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Oscars revise best song rules yet again

June 26, 2009 |  4:08 pm


Last year past Oscar songwriting champ Bruce Springsteen was snubbed by the academy's music branch who denied him a nod for his Golden Globe winning title track to "The Wrestler."

Springsteen had won at the Academy Awards in 1993 for the song "Streets of Philadelphia" from the film "Philadelphia." And he was nominated two years later for the title tune of "Dead Man Walking," but lost to "Colors of the Wind" from "Pocahontas."

Unlike other branches -- such as acting, which uses a preferential ballot — the music makers screen clips of all the eligible entries and then score them on a sliding scale from six to 10 with half-point increments in between. (If a branch member has a song in contention, he or she is ineligible to vote.)

Last year only those songs that scored an average of at least 8.25 out of 10 among the participating music branch members were eligible to be nominated. That criterion meant that even if Springsteen's song had scored 8/10 from everyone voting, it was not enough to merit an Oscar nomination.

Only three songs passed this litmus test of quality – eventual winner "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire" as well as "O Saya" from that best picture champ and Peter Gabriel's "Down to Earth," which played over the closing credits of "Wall-E."

This year, Springsteen would stand a slim chance of getting a nod with an average score of only 8/10. If just one song meets the minimum score of 8.25, then the next highest rated song will also get a nomination and the two will duke it out for the Oscar.

The previous rules dictated that there be at least three best song nominees. That rule has fallen by the wayside though there remains the cap of five contenders. And there is now the possibility that there will be no Oscar for best song awarded if not even one song meets the 8.25 threshold. With 10 best picture nominees now, that would be one way of finding time to screen those extra five clips.


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Photo: Columbia Records

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