Skip to content

Oscars to Actually Pick Five Best Song Nominees Next Year

Bret McKenzie celebrating his Oscar win / Photo by Getty Images

Next year’s Academy Awards ceremony might be a slightly less bizarre one for music. New rules disclosed yesterday will all but guarantee the best original song category has five nominees, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Now we can all get back to complaining about why the Oscar winners for best song are so lame.

This year, due to a fluke of the Oscars’ byzantine nominating rules, only two songs were up for the award. Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie ultimately brought home best-song honors for The Muppets‘ “Man or Muppet,” defeating Rio‘s “Real in Rio,” but neither song was performed live at the awards show. And those two were the only songs nominated out of 39 eligible, including workss by Madonna, Pink, Elton John, and other people who would presumably be entertaining to watch on live TV (ratings!).

Gone are the rules where a nominated song had to receive an average vote of 8.25 or higher, on a scale of 10, from the Academy’s mysteriously hard-to-please music division. Now music branch members will simply vote for up to their their top five choices, out of shortlist of candidates, and put them in order of preference. The five songs that get the most votes get the nods. Gosh, it’s almost like an annual music critics’ poll or something.

Of course, the Academy being the Academy, the rules are still, well, academic. Forthwith, the fine print and loopholes: The music branch’s executive committee can reportedly recommend capping the nominees at three if they receive submissions for “25 or fewer qualified songs.” There don’t even technically have to be any best song nominees, if only nine or fewer qualified submissions reach the executive committee’s mailboxes.

As the Hollywood Reporter points out, though, if future years have anything like last year’s 39 eligible best song candidates, Oscar viewers should once again enjoy the satisfaction of seeing a winner chosen from among a full five nominees. The article doesn’t mention anything about whether the awards show will include live performances of the nods, as used to be a tradition, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed. Now, about that Justin Beiber cameo during this year’s opening skit…