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Test Your Oscar IQ: 25 Fun Facts About Oscar-Winning Songs

From left: Barbra Streisand, Alan Menken, Melissa Etheridge and Isaac Hayes
Getty Images; Design by Jessica Xie

From left: Barbra Streisand, Alan Menken, Melissa Etheridge and Isaac Hayes

As we look ahead to the 92nd annual Academy Awards on Feb. 9, let's take a look back at record-setters in the best original song category, which originated in 1934.

Most best song Oscar wins: Sammy Cahn, Alan Menken, Johnny Mercer and James Van Heusen (four each).

Most best song Oscar nominations: Cahn (26). Cahn is also the songwriter with the most consecutive years with a best song nod: eight (1954-61). That streak included three best song winners: "Three Coins in the Fountain" (1954), "All the Way" (1957) and "High Hopes" (1959).

Most best song Oscar nominations without a win: Diane Warren (11). Warren is back in the running this year for "I'm Standing with You" from Breakthrough.

Youngest winner of a best song Oscar: Markéta Irglová, who was four days shy of turning 20 when she won for co-writing "Falling Slowly" from Once (2007).

Oldest winner of a best song Oscar: Gulzar, who was 74 when he won for writing the lyric to "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

First songwriter to win for a song that he or she performed in the film: Keith Carradine for writing "Easy" for Nashville (1975). Carradine sang the ballad in his role as Tom Frank.

Only person to win Oscars, over the course of his or her career, in both acting and music categories: Barbra Streisand. She won best actress for Funny Girl (1968), eight years before winning best song for "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" (1976).

First person to receive nominations for acting and songwriting in the same year: Mary J. Blige for Mudbound (2017). She was nominated for best supporting actress and co-wrote a nominated song, "Mighty River." Lady Gaga and Cynthia Erivo have equaled the feat in the past two years.

Only songwriters who won back-to-back awards for best original song: Composer Henry Mancini and lyricist Mercer for "Moon River" (1961) and "Days of Wine and Roses" (1962) and composer Menken for "Beauty and the Beast" (1991) and "A Whole New World" (1992).

Only performer to introduce (in the original films) four best song winners: Bing Crosby. The crooner introduced "Sweet Leilani" (1937), "White Christmas" (1942), "Swinging on a Star" (1944) and "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" (1951).

First female best song winner: Dorothy Fields, who wrote the lyric for the timeless ballad "The Way You Look Tonight" from Swing Time (1936).

First woman to win best song as a composer rather than a lyricist: Streisand for "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" for A Star Is Born (1976).

First African-American best song winner: Isaac Hayes for the electrifying "Theme From Shaft" (1971). Moreover, Hayes was the first African-American winner in any category other than acting.

Only posthumous best song winner: Howard Ashman for the title song from Beauty and the Beast (1991). Ashman died of AIDS on March 14, 1991, a little more than a year before his song won an Oscar. Ashman is also the person with the most posthumous Oscar noms: four.

First song introduced in a language other than English to win best song: "Mona Lisa" from Captain Carey U.S.A. (1950). The song was sung in Spanish by a troubadour.

First film with two best song nominees: Fame (1980). The rousing title song won; "Out Here on My Own" was also nominated.

First film with three best song nominees: Beauty and the Beast (1991). The elegant title song won; "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" were also nominated.

Most best song wins by a songwriting team: Jay Livingston & Ray Evans and Cahn & Van Heusen (three each). Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez, nominated for "Into the Unknown" from Frozen II, have a chance to win for a third time this year.

Songwriter with the longest span of best song wins: Van Heusen. His wins spanned 20 years, from "Swinging on a Star" (1944) through "Call Me Irresponsible" (1963). Elton John has a chance to surpass that record this year. If he takes it, his wins will span 26 years, from "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (1994) to current nominee  "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again."

Songwriting team with the most nominations: Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman (15). The lyricists are also the first married couple to win for best song, for co-writing "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).

Only song written for the film adaptation of a stage musical to win an Oscar: "You Must Love Me" from Evita (1996). Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, who wrote the musical, re-teamed to write this new song.

Most best song Oscar wins with different collaborators: Menken, Mercer, Rice and Harry Warren (each won with three different collaborators).

Only songwriter to win twice for songs written without a collaborator: Randy Newman for "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. (2001) and "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3 (2010). Newman is also the songwriter with the most nominated songs written without a collaborator (13).

First best song winner from an animated film: "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio (1940). Music by Leigh Harline; lyrics by Ned Washington.

Only best song winner from a documentary: "I Need to Wake Up" from the climate change doc An Inconvenient Truth (2006). Music and lyric by Melissa Etheridge.

2020 Academy Awards


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