It’s that time again! Forget the intro paragraph; let’s have a listen to this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Original Song (all song titles clickable!):
If you told us that this song had been written by a machine, we wouldn’t believe you. Because a machine would write something better. Absolutely every aspect of “Applause” is as lazy as can possibly be: the vocal style, the arrangement, the melody, the chord progression, the form, EVERYTHING. You can’t hand us a bowl full of confectioner’s sugar and call it “dessert”. It’s not dessert; it’s not even edible.
In the words of JENNIFER HUMMLER: “I actually really liked it. At first, I thought, ‘this is too cheesy, too superficial’, but then I thought, ‘this is actually just right for this sort of movie’. It was very ’80s but made a little bit modern, which is what the movie did as well.”
Out of context, this song is lovely to listen to. Rihanna’s voice goes from woodwind to brass against a soft texture of strings and choir. Having said that, it is totally ridiculous that they wrote this song without even a hint of African music tradition.
This is clearly club music with an Indian flavor. The beat drives hard and never lets up, the volume starts at 10 and never dips below 8. It’s energetic music that’s meant for dancing. Listening to the music without visuals was sometimes grating (club music is not meant for sitting on the couch, next to the fireplace, after all), but re-listening while watching the music video was much more entertaining.
This is the least energetic, least head-boppable song on the list of nominees, and yet it is by far the most creative and interesting contender for the award. Everything that was so thoughtless in “Applause” is presented here saturated in careful attention, from the instruments to the harmony, from the form right down to the tempo. Additionally, the lyrics are incredibly powerful, even moreso if you’ve seen Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Our pick to win the award: “This Is a Life” (duh). But what’s your take?