Sure, the last time the majority of nominations in this category belonged to a single film, said film actually won. But don’t call this category for Dreamgirls just yet. When, in 1991, Beauty and the Beast’s title song triumphed over “Belle” and “Be Our Guest” (in addition to a forgettable song from Hook and a song everyone wished they could forget from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), it was easy since all three songs covered notably different musical bases, allowing “Beauty And The Beast” to coast to its win on the ballad ticket over the curtain-raising overture of “Belle” and the “do not forget, eh, zees movie…she is eh set in Fruhnce” obviousness of “Be Our Guest.” The three songs from Dreamgirls, however, are almost indistinguishable from each other; it’s appropriate that our graphic above with the songs’ odds makes no attempt to differentiate. You could play them all now and I couldn’t tell you which song goes with which scene, which is unfortunate as they’re all supposed to play extremely different functions within the film. All right, that’s not entirely true: one does sound different from the other two. I’d forgotten that “Love You I Do” is Jennifer Hudson’s bouncy ditty before her fall; I’d falsely remembered it as the song Jaime Foxx snores through in front of the blowup of Beyoncé’s monstrous lips (the title just seemed appropriate for a song that was basically all “Get down on your knees and suck Berry Gordy off, woman!”). “Patience” is supposed to be an anthem on behalf of the collective conscience, like Motown hitching up to the Joan Baez Express (or, at any rate, a pastiche of one of Stevie Wonder’s early-’70s protest songs a la “Look Around” or “Evil”), and “Listen” is supposed to be an isolated ode to self-entitlement as personal fulfillment (Beyoncé is framed against a black background like Diana Ross at the climax of The Wiz). But they sure as hell sound interchangeable to me, and taking Beyoncé’s name off the credits for “Listen” sure knocked the wind out of its sails as the ersatz frontrunner of the trio, unless voters are seriously lazier than we give them credit for. If the award were actually being voted on by songwriters, than Siedah Garrett’s name recognition would almost be enough of a factor to push “Love You I Do” to a win, but most voters are not songwriters and the peppy number probably has as much chance as “That Thing You Do” did (or, rather, didn’t). Count Cars out for stealing Prince’s nomination for Happy Feet, and we’re left with only one nominee with the sort of Grammy-bait crossover appeal that’s proven so powerful in this category lately. If the Dixie Chicks are likely headed to Album of the Year honors tonight, Melissa Etheridge’s An Inconvenient Truth power ballad “It’s Hot Out There For A Pimp” stands a reasonable shot to complete the circle. A win for her is almost like a win for the non-nominated Chicks over in the Documentary Feature category…somehow.
Will Win: “I Need To Wake Up,” An Inconvenient Truth
Should Win: “Love You I Do,” Dreamgirls