It’s a foregone conclusion that Adele will add more hardware to her mantle with a Best Original Song Oscar this Sunday at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. “Skyfall” — the theme for the most recent James Bond installment of the same name, which she co-wrote with longtime collaborator Paul Epworth — is in a class of its own. (“Suddenly” from Les Misérables only has a slight chance of pandering to the crotchety Academy voters.) But it’s not Adele we’re worried about. (She’s great.) It’s the complete oversight by the Academy of other songwriters that were more deserving than, say, Seth MacFarlane for Ted’s theme song. Here are five songwriters who were unceremoniously snubbed.
1. Rick Ross “100 Black Coffins” (Django Unchained)
Three 6 Mafia won an Oscar in 2006 for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow, so we know that the Academy doesn’t hate rap music. The Django soundtrack ranges from Ross to Jim Croce, and the Bawse enlisted the movie’s main character (Jamie Foxx) to produce this track. Instead of Ross at the ceremony, the audience will hear Norah Jones’ play the aforementioned Ted theme song, “Everybody Needs A Best Friend.” Sigh.
2. The Black Keys & RZA “The Baddest Man Alive” (Man With the Iron Fists)
RZA’s directorial debut was met with mixed reviews, but the soundtrack is packed with luminaries including Kanye and none other than the RZA himself. The Black Keys are no strangers to cross-genre collaborations — their 2009 record Blackroc featured Mos Def, Raekwon, RZA, and more. Here, the Ohio blues band trade guitar licks with RZA’s familiar argot.
3. Fiona Apple “Dull Tool” (This Is 40)
This Is 40 was positively unfunny, but we got this brand new Fiona Apple track out of it, so all’s well that ends well. The Idler Wheel…, Apple’s first studio record in seven years, may have overshadowed this single off the This Is 40 soundtrack, but it’s vintage Apple: haunting orchestral arrangements, tortured love (“You, you don’t kiss when you kiss/ You don’t fuck when you fuck/ You don’t say what you mean/ You don’t talk loud enough,” she sings), and Apple’s frenetic and fragile vocals.
4. Arcade Fire, “Abraham’s Daughter” (The Hunger Games)
We can’t think of a band better suited for an eerie Hunger Games-inspired tune than Montreal’s Arcade Fire. You can picture Jennifer Lawrence waltzing through the forest to this tune that wouldn’t be out of place in an epic Zelda movie either. It has a more Madrigal Dinner feel to it than anything they’ve done before, but the band’s DNA is still intact: squealing guitars, elegant choruses, and air-tight percussion.
5. Rodriguez “Sugar man” Searching for Sugar Man
Jonny Greenwood’s masterful score for There Will Be Blood was snubbed in 2008 because it contained elements from previous recordings. And while we realize that “Sugar Man” is off 1970’s Cold Fact, few people outside of Detroit and Cape Town knew about Rodriguez before the terrific, Oscar-nominated documentary Searching for Sugar Man came out this July. It’s got all the elements of Dylan without the faux down-and-out vibes. Rodriguez may be the last artist from the ’60s who still lives the same way he did back then.