A chart-topper from “The Greatest Showman” composed by last year’s Oscar winners will compete with tunes sung by Mary J. Blige, Andra Day, Miguel and Sufjan Stevens for the Academy Award for best song.
Golden Globe winner “This is Me,” an emotional high point when sung by cast member Keala Settle in “Barnum,” is the immediate favorite. A sweeping song of affirmation with state-of-the-art pop production, it has recently been covered by Kesha. “This is Me” helped the soundtrack vault to No. 1.
If it wins, it would be the second Oscar in a row for the songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, whose “City of Stars” from “La La Land” is the reigning champ. Pasek and Paul also won a Tony best score for “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Another emotion-laden song with a big pop production, nominee “Stand Up for Something” is sung by Day with a rap cameo by Common. From the film “Marshall” about young lawyer Thurgood Marshall, Day sings, “it all means nothing if you don’t stand for something.”
Common, who won the 2015 Academy Award with John Legend for the song “Glory,” co-wrote “Stand Up for Something” with veteran Los Angeles songwriter Dianne Warren. She’s looking to break a jinx: Warren has received eight previous Academy Award nominations without a win. It’s her third straight year with an Oscar-nominated song.
Blige was nominated for best supporting actress for her role in “Mudbound,” about life on a Mississippi farm post-World War II. She also sang “Mighty River” over the movie’s end credits.
A pop ballad with gospel singers, “Mighty River” is a song of perseverance. Blige co-wrote it with Raphael Saadiq.
“Remember Me” appears twice in the animated film “Coco,” once as a lullaby and the other in the lilting style of a Mexican corrido ballad. Miguel sings English lyrics, with Natalia LaFourcade singing verses in Spanish. Husband-and-wife songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez wrote it: Robert Lopez said in an interview it has emotional resonance because it was sung at his mother’s funeral this year.
The nomination is big news for their daughters, ages 12 and 8.
“They want to go to the Oscars and take selfies with famous people,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez said from her New York home Tuesday.
A lovely, ethereal ballad with gentle guitar picking, Brooklyn-based songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ “Mystery of Love” is the outlier among the nominees, at least stylistically. One of two songs Stevens wrote for “Call Me By Your Name,” the song plays in the background as two young men fall in love in the film, set in Italy in the 1980s.
“Blessed be the mystery of love,” Stevens sings. Upon a request from filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, this was the first time he had written material specifically for a movie.