That there are once again five nominees in the category that, last year, only managed two (well, effectively one plus the lamprey nod necessary to make it an actual competition) means that the music branch's restriction-crazed motion to this year only offer eligibility to songs whose lyrics are fully palindromic failed to pass muster with the Board of Governors. Instead, the size of the category is now simply dictated by the number of submissions like all the other vestigial categories, rather than by the arcane scoring system that last year revealed the music branch to be the only group whose stinginess with ratings rivals our own.
Still, how judgmentally promiscuous do you have to be to invite some of these ditties into your earholes for more than the amount of time it takes to collect up your coat and leave the theater? Specifically the one whose inclusion here reeks of sucking up to the once and hopefully never future M.C.? It's difficult to imagine either that piece of self-parodic MacFarlane smarm or the category's two foremost substitutes for Ambien scoring higher than last year's “Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” knockoff, though Scarlet Johansson's lounge-tart delivery of “Before My Time” unwittingly but intriguingly recasts the song's overt pleas for global efficacy into the spectacle of an ice queen slowly inspiring a climate change in some voters' pants.
No single element of no single film in recent memory has more shamelessly been invented for the purpose of snaring just one more Oscar nod than “Suddenly.” Unfortunately, the half-song nestles in so comfortably among the rest of Les Misérables's sound-alike dirges that even the Broadway queens primed to vote for the film straight down the line wouldn't likely be able to hum a bar from it at musket point. Which leaves the path to Oscar wide open for an artist who, lately, hardly needs one to trounce her competition. Shirley Bassey would say that Adele doesn't have the range to break 007's losing streak in this category, but everyone and their mothers know she's the only songwriter in this mix who could've passed the palindrome requirement and still have a certain demographic reaching for their smelling salts.
Will Win: “Skyfall,” Skyfall
Should Win: “Skyfall,” Skyfall