Film songs have been recognized at the Grammys since the first year of the awards, 1958, when “Gigi” was nominated for song of the year. But the Grammys didn’t have a category devoted exclusively to film and TV songs until 1987, when they introduced best song written specifically for a motion picture or television. The first winner: “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail.
So the two awards don’t always go hand-in-hand. This year, no songs are up for both awards. (The name of the Grammy category was changed to best song written for visual media in 2011.) Beyoncé‘s “Spirit” from The Lion King came closest this year. The song, which she co-wrote with Labrinth (Timothy McKenzie) and ILYA (Ilya Salmanazadeh), is nominated for a Grammy and was shortlisted for an Oscar, but didn’t wind up with an Oscar nomination.
In the 32 years that the Grammys have had a film/TV song category, 15 songs have won both awards. The first song to win at both awards shows was Carly Simon‘s “Let the River Run” from Working Girl. The most recent: “Shallow” from A Star Is Born, co-written by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt.
Alan Menken has won both the Oscar and the Grammy four times, more often than any other songwriter. He managed this feat with “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid and “Beauty and the Beast” from the film of the same name (both co-written with Howard Ashman); “A Whole New World” from Aladdin (co-written with Tim Rice); and “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas (co-written with Stephen Schwartz).
The other nine songs that have won both awards are “Streets of Philadelphia” from Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen), “My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from ‘Titanic’)” from Titanic (Horner, Will Jennings), “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters, Inc. (Randy Newman), “Into the West” from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Fran Walsh, Howard Shore, Annie Lennox), “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire (A.R. Rahman, Gulzar), “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from Crazy Heart (Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett), “Skyfall” from the film of the same name (Adele, Paul Epworth), “Let It Go” from Frozen (Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez) and “Glory” from Selma (Common [Lonnie Lynn], John Legend [John Stephens]).
Five songs that won an Oscar weren’t even nominated for the Grammy in the film/TV song category — “You Must Love Me” from Evita (Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rice), “Al Otro Lado Del Río” from The Motorcycle Diaries (Jorge Drexler), “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow (DJ Paul [Paul Beauregard], Juicy J [Jordan Harris], Frayser Boy [Cedric Coleman]), “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 (Newman) and “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre (Jimmy Napes, Sam Smith).
Likewise, five songs that won a Grammy in the film/TV song category weren’t even nominated for an Oscar. One was from a TV show (“Boss of Me” from Malcolm in the Middle), and thus wasn’t eligible; the other four simply didn’t get enough votes. They are “I Believe I Can Fly” from Space Jam (R. Kelly), “Beautiful Stranger” from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Madonna, William Orbit), “A Mighty Wind” from the film of the same name (Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean) and “Safe & Sound” from The Hunger Games (Burnett, Taylor Swift, The Civil Wars (John Paul White, Joy Williams). Red-hot recording stars wrote or co-wrote three of these four songs, a fact that may have meant more to Grammy voters than it did to Oscar voters.
The eligibility periods for the two awards are different. The Oscars operate on the calendar year. The eligibility period for the Grammys usually runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. (This year, the end date was pushed up a month to Aug. 31.) As a result, songs often compete in different years and against different fields of contenders at the two shows.
This has contributed to some oddities. “Beautiful Stranger,” which wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar, beat two Oscar winners (“When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt and “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan) when it won the Grammy.
The two academies don’t always even agree on songwriting credits. The Recording Academy awarded a Grammy to Tanvi Shah as a third co-writer of “Jai Ho” and to Che Smith as a third co-writer of “Glory.” The Motion Picture Academy did not award either of them an Oscar.