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Best Oscar songs live on and on

  • George Peppard, Audrey Hepburn and Cat embrace in the rain as "Moon River" swells over the scene from "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

    Paramount Pictures

    George Peppard, Audrey Hepburn and Cat embrace in the rain as "Moon River" swells over the scene from "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

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By Christy Lemire
Associated Press
Published:
  • George Peppard, Audrey Hepburn and Cat embrace in the rain as "Moon River" swells over the scene from "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

    Paramount Pictures

    George Peppard, Audrey Hepburn and Cat embrace in the rain as "Moon River" swells over the scene from "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

It's been stuck in my head for weeks like a psychotic episode: "My Heart Will Go On," Celine Dion's big, bombastic ballad from "Titanic."
Now that James Cameron has released the 3-D redo of his 1997 shipwreck epic, the winner of 11 Academy Awards, including best original song -- it still won't go away. It goes on ... and on ...
So to erase this Oscar "winner" from the loop, here are five real winners of the best original song Oscar:
"Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz" (1939): One of the greatest songs ever from one of the greatest movies ever. A favorite from childhood that's just as moving for grown-ups, it's full of girlish innocence and melancholy longing.
Written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, it's been copied and covered endlessly by singers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Kylie Minogue.
Sam Harris became a minor star by belting out a soaring version of it on "Star Search" in the mid-'80s, and Katharine McPhee made it one of her signature tunes on "American Idol."
But of course it will always belong to Judy Garland.
"Moon River" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961): When Audrey Hepburn sings the Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer song on the fire escape of her Manhattan apartment, it's intimate, sweet and plaintive.
When it swells during the film's climactic conclusion -- in an alley in the pouring rain, as Hepburn finds the cat she cast aside and clutches it to her chest while giving George Peppard a passionate kiss -- it's heartbreaking. I cry every time in a matter of seconds.
"When You Wish Upon a Star" from "Pinocchio" (1940): A personal choice, since this is the song my mother supposedly sang to me when I was a baby. Written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington and sung by Cliff Edwards in the voice of perky sidekick Jiminy Cricket, this is probably the greatest song ever to come from a Disney animated movie. It's hopeful and earnest and unabashedly sentimental.
"Theme From 'Shaft"' (1971): He's a bad mother ... so how do you not choose this song among the top five? It has such great energy and is such a fabulously funky reflection of its time: the horns, the driving chicka-chicka, the staccato strings. Isaac Hayes is at his smooth, soulful best here, crooning lyrics that seemed so racy in their day. This was a bold pick from the Academy, and it made Hayes the first black person to win an Academy Award outside of the acting categories.
"Lose Yourself" from "8 Mile" (2002): So damn catchy. Such vivid visuals. And so crucial to the story as an exploration of the main character's fears and ambitions. Who knows whether Eminem can actually act, but he did a great job of playing a version of himself here in Curtis Hanson's drama about an aspiring rapper battling his demons as he struggles to make it out of his working-class Detroit neighborhood. I think it's hilarious that forever more, we can describe Eminem as Academy Award winner Marshall Mathers.
Story tags » MoviesMusic

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