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Oscars’ Best Song Short List: The National, She & Him (But No Madonna)


The Academy Awards ceremony occasionally makes for some unlikely musical pairings, whether that’s Elliott Smith and Celine Dion sharing a stage or Three 6 Mafia beating out Dolly Parton. The 39 songs shortlisted for next year’s Original Song Oscar hold potential for a similarly fascinating juxtaposition, with inclusions of everyone from Brooklyn indie-rockers the National, Icelandic falsetto-monger Jónsi, and indie-folk duo She & Him to world-conquering diva Lady Gaga, R&B queen Mary J. Blige, and Black Eyed Peas pop-rapper Also: the Muppets. But what the Oscar shortlist doesn’t have is Super Bowl XLVI halftime show headliner and recent Interscope signing Madonna.

Four of the five songs that received Golden Globes nods last week also made the Oscars’ shortlist: Gaga and Elton John’s “Hello Hello,” from Gnomeo and Juliet; Chris Cornell’s “The Keeper,” from Machine Gun Preacher; Sinead O’Connor’s “Lay Your Head Down,” from Albert Nobbs; and Blige’s “The Living Proof,” from The Help. As Reuters explains, however, Madonna’s Golden Globe-nominated “Masterpiece,” from W.E., missed the cut due to Oscar qualification requirements that a song appear in a movie no later than the start of the final credits (“Masterpiece” doesn’t show up until more than one minute into the credits).

Madonna snub notwithstanding, the not-so-short Oscar shortlist opens up a scintillating range of possibilities. Will the National, which recently capped off its tour for last year’s High Violet with a guest appearance by Phish’s Trey Anastasio, chalk up another win for Win Win brooder “Think You Can Wait,” — thus accidentally promoting White House hopeful Michele Bachmann’s win-win-win plan? Will indie sweetheart Zooey Deschanel get to sing “So Long,” from Winnie the Pooh, on the same stage from which eager corporate collaborator performs “Hot Wings,” from Rio? How would flighty-voiced Sigur Ros frontman Jónsi’s “Gathering Stories,” from We Bought a Zoo, sound on national TV? And what would Brazilian icon Sergio Mendes (“Real in Rio”, from Rio) and/or English icon Elvis Costello (“Sparkling Day,” from One Day — previously nominated for Cold Mountain), have to say about it all?

Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will vote on the songs after hearing them in a screening on January 5, according to Billboard. The Academy won’t announce the final three to five nominees until January 24, with the actual ceremony to follow on February 26. Check out the full list, which also includes two voter-friendly Muppets tunes written by Flight of the Conchords half Bret McKenzie:

• “The World I Knew” from African Cats
• “Lay Your Head Down” from Albert Nobbs
• “Star Spangled Man” from Captain America: The First Avenger
• “Collision of Worlds” from Cars 2
• “Dakkanaga Dugu Dugu” from DAM999
• “DAM999 Theme Song” from DAM999
• “Mujhe Chod Ke” from DAM999
• “Rainbird” from Dirty Girl
• “Keep On Walking” from The First Grader
• “Where the River Goes” from Footloose
• “Hello Hello” from Gnomeo & Juliet
• “Love Builds a Garden” from Gnomeo & Juliet
• “Bridge of Light” from Happy Feet Two
• “The Mighty Sven” from Happy Feet Two
• “Never Be Daunted” from happythankyoumoreplease
• “Hell and Back” from Hell and Back Again
• “The Living Proof” from The Help
• “Coeur Volant” from Hugo
• “It’s How We Play” from I Don’t Know How She Does It
• “When the Heart Dies” from In the Land of Blood and Honey
• “Ja Nao Estar” from José and Pilar
• “The Keeper” from Machine Gun Preacher
• “Life’s a Happy Song” from The Muppets
• “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets
• “Pictures in My Head” from The Muppets
• “Summer Song” from The Music Never Stopped
• “Imaginary Friends” from Olive
• “Sparkling Day” from One Day
• “Taking You with Me” from Our Idiot Brother
• “The Greatest Song I Ever Heard” from POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
• “Hot Wings” from Rio
• “Let Me Take You to Rio” from Rio
• “Real in Rio” from Rio
• “Shelter” from Take Shelter
• “Gathering Stories” from We Bought a Zoo
• “Pop” from White Irish Drinkers
• “Think You Can Wait” from Win Win
• “The Backson Song” from Winnie the Pooh
• “So Long” from Winnie the Pooh