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Soundtracking: The Grammy Nominees

Chris here. Soundtracks are rarely awarded prizes as musical entities themselves, so I just had to take the opportunity to dive into this year's Grammy nominees. The Grammy's have an eligibility calendar that is off-kilter to the Oscars, so you will find overlap between last year and the current year. Like Oscar past, La La Land dominates, but I suspect won't be asweep here either. This is the music industry after all, and Grammy loves firmly established acts even more than Oscar - could this be the chance for Lin Manuel Miranda and Moana to finally get a prize, or even Pharrell Williams for Hidden Figures?


  • "City of Stars" - La La Land - Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
  • "How Far I'll Go" - Moana - Lin Manuel Miranda
  • "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" - Fifty Shades Darker - Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew, and Taylor Swift
  • "Never Give Up" - Lion - Sia Furler and Greg Kurstin
  • "Stand Up for Something" - Marshall - Common and Diane Warren

Like Oscar, the Grammys foolishly omit "Runnin'" from Hidden Figures.

This category is far more friendly to final credits songs than Oscar's recent past, and to megastars in general. Marshall and Fifty Shades Darker could be contenders this year for Oscar, but when will Sia, Queen of the Final Credits Song, ever land an Oscar nomination. "Never Give Up" played over footage of Lion's real life subjects and reflected the film's triumphant spirit, but like her several other eligible songs last year (Zootopia, The Neon Demon, The Eagle Huntress) it missed a nomination. This year she'll have Wonder Woman's "To Be Human" in the hunt.

The Grammy's are clearly more focused on the music itself than its narrative context here, which is what the Academy aims for with its correlative Original Song category. The category is one that plenty complain should be eliminated, but doesn't this distinction between the two awards bodies reveal its purpose in the Oscar lineup. Music is an equally valid piece in storytelling as any other craft, and its inclusion isn't about "and now here's a song" but to acknowledge a certain type of storytelling. Sure, we have gotten some questionable lineups but it's not about an arbitrary award. Even with greats like "How Far I'll Go", the Grammys Original Song counterpart feels like just that.


  • Arrival - Johann Jóhannsson
  • Dunkirk - Hans Zimmer
  • Game of Thrones - Ramin Djawadi
  • Hidden Figures - Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams, and Hans Zimmer
  • La La Land - Justin Hurwitz

Soundtracking is meant more as an examination of songs in film rather than orchestral scores, but not including this category felt like an omission. And Jóhannsson's masterful Arrival work was Oscar ineligible, so it's good to see him listed here. I'm not a Game of Thrones watcher, but it is interesting to see what happens when television and film are eligible in the same category here. Do we talk enough about original music in television? One composer worth using to support great music in television: Michael Giacchino, who made gorgeous, emotional music for the likes of Lost well before his Oscar winning work for Up.


  • Baby Driver
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol.2
  • Hidden Figures: The Album
  • La La Land
  • Moana: The Songs

This category goes to the overall soundtrack, the full assemblage of songs and bits of original score included in the package. In terms of what film or TV one might remember for their music over the past year, I think it's a pretty solid lineup. And each have an interesting relationship with how the music is used in their films, rather than existing as a hip collection of disassociated tracks, so I won't complain. For a distillation of the respective films' themes and textures, it's somewhat of a can't-lose category (even if I wasn't a fan of Baby Driver's musicality).

But ACK, none of these nominees have been featured on Soundtracking! Tell me in the comments which soundtrack you would want featured in a column to come!

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Reader Comments (7)

My favorite soundtracks of the past year have been Wonderstruck (Carter Burwell) and Good Time (Oneohtrix Point Never). Needless to say, neither are nominated. Dunkirk's score I found obstreperous and overbearing.

November 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterken s

I should probably also add Mica Levi's score for Jackie, which was late 2016, so therefore probably eligible for this year's Grammys

November 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterken s

All I know is that Taylor Swift better not win.

November 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

"Baby Driver" didn't break any ground, but I did love it's use of music connected to editing and thematic drive of the movie. Do that one!

November 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

i mean knowing you're not a fan of Baby Driver makes me want to hear your take on it ;)

November 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Baby Driver AND its soundtrack were so disappointing. Overly self-conscious and just really narrow in its choices.

November 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Nathaniel - what Glenn said, plus my original sentiments when I reviewed it. The music was like different gowns it kept draping over itself rather than an organic part of itself. I think it gets over-appreciated simply because the film is edited to the music's rhythms.

November 30, 2017 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

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