It's safe to say that when looking at the music nominations for the Academy Awards this morning, literally thousands of people thought, "That's IT?" While the Academy's rules for the Best Original Song and Best Original Score categories are surely very thoroughly thought through, it's difficult to imagine the thinking that deemed only two songs worthy of 2012 Oscar consideration.
A look at the 39 songs and - wow - 97 scores officially in contention for the Oscars demonstrates just how thorough the initial vetting process is. A deeper dive on the songs list - which doesn't name songwriters or singers on the Oscars site - gives an idea of the artists who didn't pass muster: Elton John (two songs from "Gnomeo & Juliet"), Mary J. Blige ("The Living Proof" from "The Help"), Pink ("Bridge of Light" from "Happy Feet Two"), She & Him ("So Long" from "Winnie the Pooh"), the National ("Think You Can Wait" from "Win Win"), Elvis Costello ("Sparkling Day" from "One Day"), She & Him featuring Zoey Deschanel ("Winnie the Pooh"), Chris Cornell ("The Keeper" from "Machine Gun Preacher"), Willie Nelson ("Hell and Back" from "Hell and Back Again"), even Jordin Sparks ("The World I Knew" from "African Cats") and Sinead O'Connor ("Lay Your Head Down" from "Albert Nobbs").
We're not advocating any of these songs for Oscars, but was it really that bad a year for original songs in films? Mary J. Blige wonders the same thing, tweeting this afternoon: "I'm so thankful for true fans like you all. It saddens me & feels like the Academy is being mean. 2 only nominate 2 of the 5 slots is......."
And while some eyebrow-raising names were excluded from the Best Original Score list - last year's winners, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" along with perennial nominees like Danny Elfman, Mark Isham, Thomas Newman and Alan Silvestri - at least weren't passed over for, well, no one.
While there's hardly been the kind of outcry and calls for reform that greeted, say, Jethro Tull winning a Grammy for Best Heavy Metal Album, it is hard to believe that the esteemed ears of the Academy could only find two original songs worth nominating for this year's awards.