There are years where the outcome of the Oscar race for best original song is so obvious that the idea of setting up a contest for it is faintly ridiculous.
There are also years where the pickings are so slim, the Oscar producers could almost skip the award that year and few would notice.
And then there are years like the 51st Annual Academy Awards, where there were multiple strong contenders vying for the award. Three of the five nominees had been major hits on the Billboard Hot 100, performed by three of the hottest stars of the era, Olivia Newton-John, Donna Summer and Barry Manilow.
The show was held April 9, 1979 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Johnny Carson, host of The Tonight Show, hosted for the first time. Carson, 53 at the time, would serve as Oscar host four more times. He was a perfect Oscar host (as he was a perfect talk show host) — sharp, funny and always classy.
Marty Pasetta directed the show. Jack Elliott and Allyn Ferguson served as musical directors.
For four of the five nominated songs, this was the film’s one and only nomination. Can you guess what the exception was? (We won’t leave you hanging!)
Here are nominees in the order they were performed on the Oscar telecast.