I'll share our twelve favorite songs first (each of us picked our 5 favorites, but there was lots of overlap), and then the rest alphabetically. These were the best of the bunch:
“Gone 2015” from Miles AheadJustin: Really liked it. Reminded me of Digable Planets and other ’90s jazz-influenced hip-hop. Also nice to see young jazz guys like Robert Glasper pushing the genre forward.
Aaron: This is a great song. It would be awesome if it got nominated.
Alex: I love Robert Glasper. A+++++.
"Take Me Down" from Deepwater HorizonRyan: As someone from the Gulf Coast, who obsessively watched all the coverage of Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent ecological and cultural catastrophe, I don’t know what on earth this song is meant to evoke from that except the most generalized “down home” vibe.
Aaron: This song is by Gary Clark Jr. and starts off with a harmonica and a guitar. I loved it from start to finish. This is one of my favorites of the eligible songs.
Justin: Gary Clark Jr. is the truth. Loved the song. Hopefully he’ll get to perform it at the Oscars.
Alex: It’s fine.
“I See a Victory” from Hidden FiguresAaron: Ok I love this. It has a gospel, soul feel to it and I am all about it.
Justin: Watched this last night. A perfect movie for a substitute teacher to play during fourth period. Song is fine, but generic.
Ryan: Did they not think to use Janelle?!?
Alex: I’m into it. But yeah, Janelle woulda been the right call.
Ryan: UGH, this was a fave, until Kim Burrell got all homophobic! Seriously, come through, Janelle!
"Runnin'" from Hidden FiguresAaron: Pharrell Williams! He is awesome. He needs another nomination, but I don’t think this song is very good. But who knows what the Academy will do. Also, I don’t think I realized before that Pharrell can’t really sing.
Justin: Pharrell can make a hit in his sleep, which exactly sounds like what happened here.
Ryan: See above.
Alex: YASSSSS. Hidden Figures soundtrack, werk.
“City of Stars” from La La LandAaron: Catchy. Plus this is the movie’s central song. It is getting nominated. It’s the movie’s most hummable, singable song.
Ryan: There was more poetry in every line of Moonlight. Sadly, I fear this movie is going to stomp all over Moonlight. #OscarsSoWhite
Alex: Is Ryan Gosling singing?? No me gusta. Song is Ok-ish.
"Still Falling for You" from Bridget Jones's BabyAaron: The song is sung by Ellie Goulding, and actually I think this might be one of the best of the bunch. I do not care about Bridget Jones or her baby, but the song is a winner.
Justin: “Ellie Goulding” is such a Muggle name.
Alex: I wanted to like this so badly – I have a weakness for the B. Jones stories and, like most women, love P. Dempsey and C. Firth. (I’m enjoying these initials.) But I can’t support a song whose single line refrain IS THE SAME NOTE 5 TIMES. Also for the remainder of the list, I’m only listening to songs that either pique my interest or whose comments by A./J./R. Intrigue me.
"I'm Still Here" from Miss Sharon Jones!Aaron: It would have been totally cool for them to nominate Sharon Jones for this. But Miss Jones died in November 2016. It’s a real missed opportunity, and who would sing this song now?
Justin: Best song on the list hands down. Janelle Monáe could sing it?
Alex: Janelle for Pres 2020!
“How Far I'll Go” from MoanaRyan: This may just be that sweet, naive anthem we need to delude ourselves that somehow we'll manage 2017 better than we did 2016.
Aaron: Pretty hard not to love this song. And it is the centerpiece of this musical film, which everyone loves. The song comes back again and again throughout Moana.
Alex: GOD I LOVE ALESSIA CARA SO MUCH I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT MOANA BUT I HAVE LISTENED TO THIS SONG BILLIONS OF TIMES.
“Blind Pig” from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemAaron: This is a jazzy number that I loved.
Justin: Cool little song. I wouldn’t nominate it, but a cool song, still.
Ryan: I really enjoyed imagining this tune with a light, gay BDSM-themed music video, per the title.
Alex: BAHAHAH RYAN.
“Never Give Up” from LionAaron: This is one of two Sia songs this year. This one is better than the one from The Eagle Huntress. If you’re into Sia you will probably like this. The lyrics are actually related to this movie in some way, unlike some of these songs.
Justin: It’s like the underdog team just won the championship! Tell me I’m wrong.
Alex: Justin is right. And I feel like I could totally go to the Olympics when I listen to this. I love Sia and I really like this. Indian music in beginning is slightly corny though.
“Drive It Like You Stole It” from Sing StreetJustin: This movie was great and so is the song.
Aaron: I love this. It sounds like an upbeat Spandau Ballet song. I need them to nominate this. And all of the images from this video make me want to see this movie.
“Moonshine” from Live by NightAaron: Foy Vance singing about moonshine and bootlegging? I like this kind of country music. In fact, I pretty much love this song. But while we’re talking about Live by Night… this got released on Christmas Day, clearly aiming for end-of-year awards, but it has appeared on no one’s lists. In fact, no one is even talking about this movie.
Justin: I like it, but it’s no Gary Clark Jr.
And now for the rest (i.e. the other 79 songs...):
Aaron: Girl power! Pink’s song for Alice through the Looking Glass is about going through glass ceilings. “We came here to run it!” the chorus says, and she has a group of singers behind her. I am not into this kind of music, but it has a great pop beat and will connect with lots of folks.
Justin: OMG the video starts off with a Corey Hart cameo. Anyway, the song is fine in that generic, written-by-a-Scandanavian-pop-savant way. I didn’t watch the movie, but I doubt it has as many practical effects as the music video. Also, has P!nk always had that exclamation in her name?
“Rise” from American Wrestler: the WizardAaron: I cannot seem to find this song anywhere, but it is fittingly performed by Andy Madadian, the Armenian-Iranian singer who now lives in Los Angeles.
Justin: This movie isn’t about The Grand Wizard from the WWE, so it is invalid.
Aaron: This is a Blake Shelton – i.e. country – song. I don’t get it.
Justin: Just like the movie, I quit after a few minutes.
Alex: I watched a little just to see who this guy was because he is Gwyneth Paltrow’s new husband. I tried to think about some funny comparison to her former husband, who heads Coldplay but mostly I just think they are both mediocre musicians. Also, the song – at least the first 30 seconds – was terribly annoying.
Aaron: “Flicker” is by Tori Amos, the singer I was most obsessed with in high school and college. This is a weird song. Maybe I needed to have seen Audrie & Daisy to get it, but I have never heard of this documentary. The song is pretty enough, and I guess the Academy has been interested in songs from documentaries lately.
Alex: Something about attaching Tori Amos to a Netflix documentary about cyberbullying and high school rape makes her seems cliché in a way I don’t think she deserves. (Even if the doc is important and good, which it may well be.) I do like the song but I have to actively detach it from thinking about it as backdrop to dramatic moments.
Aaron: This movie looks like it might be good. This song is not.
Alex: I’m so excited that this strange letter ð is in the singer’s first name. That’s all I’m really excited about here. Besides the fact that the Wikipedia entry defines the movie in a highly hyphenated way: “an American-Icelandic-French mystery-drama film”.
Alex: This is fine. I mean, it sounds like the right song to musically illustrate the slow demise of humankind.
Justin: This would’ve been better as a Johnny Cash cover.
Alex: The invocation of God combined with the catchiness of the song just makes me uncomfortable.
Justin: “Hey, it’s me, Pastor Nick. I know some people think Christians can be square, but what they don’t know is that we rock! Now join me in singing this tastefully rocking but still praise-worthy song! Also, gays are still bad and life starts at conception. 1-2-3-4!!!”
Aaron: More about the god. “I call you mine but you’re truly his”, the first line of the song says, “He’s the reason we exist…”
Justin: “Pastor Nick here. Remember, the bus is leaving at 10 am sharp for the retreat. We will leave your booties behind. I’m not joking. BTW, has anybody seen my car keys? They were on the piano.”
Alex: I ignored the lyrics so I didn’t fall into the trap Aaron did. And lo and behold, it was quite pleasurable.
Justin: “Haha, very funny. Found my keys in the men’s toilet. I know it was you,Toby. Have fun walking to the retreat, buddy.”
Justin: Haven’t we Ben-Hur before? LOLOLOL But seriously... why?
Ryan: Rihanna for the History Channel.
Justin: If the song is as funny as the movie, then I’ll pass.
Justin: Forgot this movie even came out. The song is whatever.
Justin: I liked it in that True Detective-theme song way. Strange this is from that border-crossing horror movie.
Justin: The trailer for this movie is cut like it’s Drive, or something, which I feel it is nothing like. The song also seems like it’s for another movie, a movie I still wouldn’t watch, but another movie, nonetheless.
Justin: I like that most of Sia’s songs sound like the final song in an ’80s sports movie.
Alex: I love Sia’s voice but am not inspired by this song.
Justin: I started watching this doc the other day. Interesting subject, uninteresting song.
Aaron: This is a country tune from Lucinda Williams that is basically terrible.
Justin: I’m guessing they couldn’t get Tom Waits?
Justin: Didn’t Matty McConaughey already do a movie called Fool’s Gold? Also, the song is basically what they filter in when you’re trying on skinny jeans at Urban Outfitters.
Justin: Ugh. I hate it. Is this for a Disney channel movie?
Justin: It’s cute, but if Jack Antonoff gets nominated for this I’m going back in time and voting for Trump.
Justin: Are we on a subway? Do you have a dollar I could give this guy so he’ll get off at the next stop?
Ryan: The title alone should have warned us from listening. Also, can things never again feat. Josh Fox, whoever the fuck that is.
Alex: I want to know what charisma smells like. But I’m not going to listen to this song.
Justin: This song is a Collision Course of awfulness, amirite?
Ryan: Never have I ever seen an Ice Age movie. (Smugly doesn’t take a drink.)
Alex: Me neither.
Justin: It’s the Mr. Belvedere guy!
Aaron: Oh, I was into this. I like it.
Ryan: Is it terrible that before researching this I thought it was about Mark Foley, the Republican congressman who sexted underage boys?
Justin: I’ll watch this doc and cry because that is what I do these days.
Justin: Errbody ripping off Antony and the Johnsons nowadays.
Justin: I liked the movie, but do not like this song.
Justin: Great montage song.
Justin: I’m not Loving this.
Justin: This sounds like the main song for the next James Bond.
Alex: Aaron has very complex and informed feelings on this song and others in this movie. All I can say is I AM INTO THIS ONE. I WANT TO EXPLORE THE WORLD ON A RAFT.
Ryan: Is Rita Wilson in MBFGW2?
Alex: According to Spotify, Rita Wilson has 4 ALBUMS OUT. OK, 2 are Xmas albums but still. Who knew that Rita was such a little songbird? I really hope she and Tom Hanks do a Hanukkah duet album next year. But because she is a Renaissance lady, yes, she IS ALSO in MBFGW2.
Justin: I think she performed this on The Today Show, right before they showed the three best ways to beat holiday weight.
Alex: I have a hard time being critical of anything Sia does. Even things by her I don’t like initially I end up playing on repeat. This is not the best but I’ll probably get hooked on it. Unsurprisingly, I know nothing about the movie.
Justin: “...and new champion, Daniel LaRusso Jr!” - From The New New Karate Kid: Just Kiddin’
Justin: If by “his own range” you mean “good,” then yes.
“Find My Victory” from Olympic Pride, American PrejudiceAaron: Here’s another one I can’t find. This is performed by Tony Hightower, but that’s all I can seem to figure out about this song.
Alex: I smell a conspiracy. WHERE ARE ALL THESE SONGS?
Justin: Is this from Moana?
Alex: I’m not even listening because I agree with Aaron.
Justin: “There’s something so predictable, and in the end it’s rife, this song is just a ripoff of Time of Your Life.”
Justin: Half the songs on this list are this Portlandia sketch.
Justin: Imagine if this was a good song.
Justin: This would sound better with Sia singing it.
Alex: TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK, AARON.
Aaron: Songs with "a message" like this one, Alex, make me want to die. How's that for honesty?
Ryan: Alan Menken? I’m in.
Justin: GET OUT OF HERE, ADAM LEVINE! LEAVE YOUR STINK OFF THIS MOVIE!!!
Alex: That’s right, boy, observe that accent! I was also weirdly excited to listen to Céline. I really do find it funny when a singer is singing about really emotional topics and the music video cuts to really emotional Pixar characters. “Don’t give up, little computer generated boy!!!”
“Kiss Me Goodnight” from Southwest of Salem: the Story of the San Antonio FourAaron: Another one I can’t find. But this movie is about a witch trial! In Texas!
Alex: I feel like he is in a cabin in the Adirondacks. But anyway, it’s an OK song.
Justin: It’s like KROQ made an algorithm of successful current songs, fed it into a computer, and this is what was spit out.
Alex: Yup. Bad.
Justin: This movie, like Angry Birds, is about one species wanting to eat another one. So I guess the feeling that can’t be stopped is genocide?
Alex: All of the troops seem to have abandoned Aaron in his critical crusade. Justin? Ryan? Hello?
Alex: Is she an ibex? An antelope? Plus Shakira hips + butt added, obv. I don’t know what the creature is but I am into it. And the tigers are totally A+. I’m generally fairly motivated by this song but not sure toward what. I guess everything?
Justin thinks truffles are overrated, but Ruffles are underrated. You can find him on Instagram (justinabarca) and Twitter (@thewarclub).
Alex loves to do yoga and spill food on herself. You can find her on Instagram (ripple617) and Twitter (@ripple617).
Ryan is against nostalgia in principle yet is somehow a romantic. He can be found on Twitter (@avidyarns) and Instagram (avidyarns).