‘Encanto,’ ‘Grease’ & More Films Where the Biggest Hit Wasn’t the Song that Vied for an Oscar Nod
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‘Encanto,’ ‘Grease’ & More Films Where the Biggest Hit Wasn’t the Song that Vied for an Oscar Nod

The zesty “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is the breakout hit from Encanto, but it’s not the song from the film that members of the music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will be considering when they vote to determine this year’s nominees for best original song.

Instead, they’ll evaluate “Dos Oruguitas,” a Spanish-language acoustic ballad that had special meaning for Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote both music and lyrics for all of the songs in the film. It’s the first song he wrote entirely in Spanish.

“I really had to go out of my comfort zone,” Miranda told The Los Angeles Times. “My task was to write a Colombian folk song that feels like it’s always existed. … It was important to me that I write it in Spanish, rather than write it in English and translate it, because you can always feel translation. … I was really proud of it. I felt like I pulled it from a deeper place within myself.”

Both songs are listed on the Billboard Hot 100, but “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is way ahead. The track, credited to Carolina Gaitan, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz & Encanto Cast, vaults from No. 50 to No. 5 in its second week. “Dos Oruguitas,” credited to Sebastian Yatra, debuts at No. 83.

Yet “Dos Oruguitas” (Spanish for “Two Caterpillars”) is the only Encanto song that Miranda and the team at Walt Disney Animation Studios submitted for Oscar consideration. It made the shortlist of 15 songs that are vying for a nomination. The five finalists will be announced on Feb. 8.

This isn’t the first time that the biggest hit from a film wasn’t the one that was submitted for Oscar consideration. Here are other times something like this happened.

Grease, 1978: Olivia Newton-John’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” which received an Oscar nomination, was a big hit, peaking at No. 3 on the Hot 100, but there were two bigger hits from the soundtrack. Newton-John and John Travolta’s “You’re the One That I Want” and Frankie Valli’s “Grease” both reached No. 1.  John Farrar wrote both “Hopelessly” and “You’re the One That I Want.” Barry Gibb wrote “Grease.” This was the second year in a row that Gibb was passed over for an Oscar nod. None of the Bee Gees’ songs from Saturday Night Fever were nominated for the 1977 award. Newton-John performed her spotlight ballad on the Oscar telecast in April 1979 — and slayed! (“Hopelessly” lost to the disco classic “Last Dance.” Donna Summer’s performance of that song on the Oscar telecast was also stellar.)

Mary Poppins, 1964: “Chim Chim Cheree” won the Oscar, but it wasn’t the biggest hit from the soundtrack. The New Christy Minstrels’ cover version of “Chim Chim” reached No. 81 following their performance of the song on the Oscar telecast in April 1965, but Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke‘s original version of the tongue-twister “Super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious” climbed 15 points higher, peaking at No. 66. Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman wrote the entire song score.  Later that year, Andrews invited The New Christy Minstrels to perform the song with her on her NBC special The Julie Andrews Show, an Emmy nominee for outstanding variety special.

In addition, there are many cases where the biggest hit from a film wasn’t eligible for an Oscar because it wasn’t written for the film. Here’s a sampling:

Country Strong, 2010: Gwyneth Paltrow’s title song from this country-themed film reached No. 81 on the Hot 100. Sara Evans’ “A Little Bit Stronger” did even better, hitting No. 34. But neither of those songs was written for the film. One that was, “Coming Home” (also performed by Paltrow), was nominated. Paltrow performed it on the Oscar telecast, but it lost to Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3.

The Bodyguard, 1992: Dolly Parton wrote and recorded “I Will Always Love You” in 1974, 18 years before Whitney Houston’s steel-belted version became a blockbuster hit in The Bodyguard. Two other songs from that film, “I Have Nothing” and “Run to You,” received Oscar nominations, but both lost to “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. Parton had been nominated for best original song for 1980’s “Nine to Five” and would be nominated again for 2005’s “Travelin’ Thru,” but this is the one that would almost certainly have won if it had been eligible.

The Rose, 1979: Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose,” a No. 3 smash for Bette Midler, wasn’t eligible because McBroom didn’t write it for the film. She had written it a year or two earlier in response to her manager’s suggestion that she write “some Bob Seger-type tunes.” Midler was the first artist to record the song, but the Academy are sticklers on this point. As a result, Midler didn’t get a chance to perform it on the Oscar telecast, though she was a best actress nominee for her performance in the film. McBroom did, however, win a Golden Globe for the song. Their rules are a little looser.


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