There have been many incredible songs that have won the Best Original Song Academy Award. In fact, the Academy has been giving out this award since 1934 at the 7th Academy Awards. The Best Original Song Oscar is a songwriters award, for their specific composition for the film. The performer of the tune does not get an award. That’s unless, however, they contributed in some way to the music or lyrical composition.
The Award eligibility has changed throughout the decades. Before 1941, any song that appeared in a Motion Picture could get a nomination. But now it has to be a specific original composition that artists recorded for the film. The film needs to use the song in the motion picture. Or it could also play the music first during the end credits of the film.
For this list, I took critical acclaim, commercial success and cultural influence of the winning songs. This list consists of Best Original Song Academy Award winners from the 2000’s, 2010’s. The 00’s and 10’s Best Original Song winners feature a wide variety of styles including Hip-Hop/Rap, Indie Folk, Indi-pop, animated musical show tunes and epic pop ballads.
*Please recognize these films and songs are of their respective eras and may include negative outdated cultural depictions.
10. “Into the West” – Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Annie Lennox, Howard Shore, Fran Walsh (Music & Lyrics)
“Into the West” serves as a beautiful theme song for the final film of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The magical tune is played over the end credits of “The Return of the King”. With an ethereal sound straight out of Middle Earth, “Into the West” is a truly enchanting tune. With impeccable vocals by Annie Lennox, who also co-wrote the tune along with Fran Walsh and the film’s composer Howard Shore, “Into the West” captivated audiences worldwide.
The lovely musical theme that viewers hear during scenes in the Gray Havens and land of Valinor provides the melodic theme of the song. The tune won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards and won a GRAMMY award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. Numerous artists, most notably New Zealand singer Yulia Townsend, covered the tune. She also titled her debut album, “Into the West”.
9. “City of Stars” – La La Land (2016)
Justin Hurwitz (Music) Benj Pasek, Justin Paul (Lyrics)
“City of Stars” comes from the hugely successful movie musical, La La Land. It is a sweet, melancholy piano-driven tune that Sebastian and Mia (Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) perform. Pasek and Paul wrote “City of Stars” and it received lots of love from audiences and critics alike. The tune won almost every award including Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, and Satellite Awards.
“Stars” won Best Song at the Critics’ Choice Awards. It also received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media. “City of Stars” also reached number one on the Metro Radio chart in Hong Kong and number one on Billboard’s Japan Radio Songs chart. The tune has also become a popular cover song choice for contestants on reality television singing competitions like The Voice, The X Factor UK and for various musical artists around the globe.
8. “Remember Me” – Coco (2017)
Kristen Andersen- Lopez, Robert Lopez (Music & Lyrics)
“Remember Me” is performed in different styles and contexts throughout the fantastic Disney-Pixar animated film, Coco. It is performed in the film with a mariachi arrangement, as a sweet lullaby and an emotional acoustic rendition. A pop version of “Remember Me” also plays during the end credits and is sung by Miguel and Natalia Lafourcade. Written by the award-winning songwriting duo Kristen Andersen-Lopez and Robert Lopez, “Remember Me” showcases the power of music and how one song with a sweet melody and sentiment can bring people together from all walks of life. The song won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and also won Best Song at the Critics’ Choice Awards. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe and GRAMMY. “Remember Me” is a beloved song that will continue to live on.
7. “Falling Slowly” – Once (2008)
Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova (Music & Lyrics)
“Falling Slowly” is a poignant romantic indie folk duet that was performed in the 2007 film, “Once”. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova wrote and performed “Falling Slowly” in the film. “Falling Slowly” won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and was also nominated for a GRAMMY award. It hit number two on the Irish Singles Chart, which was the setting for the film and number eight on the Canadian Hot 100 Billboard Chart. “Once” was turned into a Tony award-winning Musical of the same name which prominently features “Falling Slowly”.
The musical soundtrack that includes “Falling Slowly” won a GRAMMY award from Best Musical Theatre Album. The song has also become a popular cover tune with well known covers by artists like Kris Allen, Josh Groban, Adam Levine and The Voice duet partner Addison Agen. “Falling Slowly” was also recorded by Hansard’s band “The Frames”. The song was also heavily featured in the Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte television show, “Last Man on Earth”. “Falling Slowly” is a truly powerful tune.
6. “Jai Ho” – Slumdog Millionaire (2009)
A.R Rahman (Music) Gulzar & Tanvi Shah (Lyrics)
“Jai Ho” is a standout track from the Academy Award winning Best Picture, “Slumdog Millionaire”. Award-winning Indian Composer A.R Rahman and award-winning Indian lyricist Gulzar and Tanvi Shah wrote “Jai Ho”. The latter also performs on the track. The film version of “Jai Ho” also features performances by Sukhwinder Singh, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Vijay Prakash. Appearing at the end of “Slumdog Millionaire” in a joyful choreographed dance sequence, audiences worldwide fell in love with the feel good tune. Upon release, people around the world were uploading their own interpretations of the “Jai Ho” dance on YouTube along with various covers and remixes. Critics adored “Jai Ho” and it took home the Best Original Song Academy Award. It also won Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Visual Media.
The American musical group The Pussycat Dolls also recorded an English version with A.R Rahman called “Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)” which came out a day after the song won its Academy Award. That new version added to the global popularity of the song. Their version was credited as A.R Rahman and the Pussycat Dolls featuring Nicole Scherzinger and had additional songwriting contributions by Scherzinger, Ester Dean, Ron Fair, The Writing Camp and Brick & Lace. Their version became a number one hit in many countries including, Australia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Portugal and Romania. “Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)” was also a top ten in at least ten other countries worldwide including Canada and the United Kingdom. In the United States “Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny) peaked at number fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100.
5. “Glory” – Selma (2014)
John Legend, Common & Rhymefest (Music & Lyrics)
“Glory” is a powerful rap-sung duet performed by Common and John Legend. The song serves as the theme song to the film “Selma” about the historic Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights marches in the United States in 1965. Common who raps on the track also co-starred in the film as Civil Rights leader James Bevel. Common and Legend wrote the track alongside Rhymefest with Legend handling the production. The goose bump inducing track was critically acclaimed. “Glory” won the Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.
Common and Legend’s live performance at the Academy Award ceremony was incredibly moving and garnered a standing ovation from the audience. It also took home “Best Song” at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. “Glory” was also nominated for three GRAMMY awards including Best Rap Song, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. The song took home the GRAMMY award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. “Glory” also charted at number forty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number eighteen on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart.
4. “Let it Go” – Frozen (2013)
Kristen Anderson Lopez & Robert Lopez (Music & Lyrics)
The songwriting duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote “Let it Go” for the incredibly successful Disney animated musical, Frozen. They also produced the song alongside Christophe Beck, Chris Montan and Tom MacDougall. “Let it Go” is a big and bold anthem of liberation and empowerment. Queen Elsa performs it in a stunning animated sequence. Tony award-winning vocal powerhouse Idina Menzel voices Elsa. And her performance of the show tune is truly magical. A pop version of “Let it Go” also played over the film’s end credits by the incredible Demi Lovato.
Menzel’s version ended up becoming a huge hit reaching number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and also hit number one on the Billboard US Dance Club Songs chart. Menzel’s version hit number one in South Korea charts and Lovato’s hit number one in the Philippines. “Let it Go” sold around ten million copies in 2014 alone. “Let it Go” won the Best Original Song Academy Award and a GRAMMY award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. The song also won Best Song at the Critics’ Choice Awards.
“Let it Go” is an international phenomenon. Disney recorded it in more than forty languages for the film’s international release. There have also been numerous cover versions worldwide. Disney also released a compilation album called “Let it Go: The Complete Set” that included all forty-two foreign language versions of the song along with nine different end credit versions. They even made a remix EP featuring various dance remixes of the song. And the people behind those remixes are DJ’s Dave Aude and Armin Van Buuren. “Let it Go” quickly cemented itself as a new Disney classic that generations will be singing along to for years to come.
3. “Skyfall” – Skyfall (2012)
Adele & Paul Epworth (Music & Lyrics)
“Skyfall” was the first James Bond theme song to win Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. Alongside its Academy Award, “Skyfall” won plenty of awards, including Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards, Best Song at the Critics’ Choice Awards, Best British Single at the Brit Awards and a GRAMMY award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. “Skyfall” gained critical acclaim and success. Adele and Paul Epworth wrote it and it features orchestrations by J.A.C. Redford.
The song came out at 0:07 British Summer Time in celebration of Global James Bond day which took place on October 5th, 2012. Global James Bond Day celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the very first James Bond film, “Dr. No”, coming out. Adele’s stellar soulful performance on the orchestral pop tune certainly connected with listeners, contributing to its’ success. The song also cleverly references the iconic James Bond theme composed by Monty Norman. Cinematic and dramatic, audiences all over the world fell in love with the tune. “Skyfall” reached number one in eleven countries and was a top five and top ten hit in various others. “Skyfall” is a modern classic.
2. “Lose Yourself” – 8 Mile (2002)
Jeff Bass, Luis Resto, Eminem (Music) Eminem (Lyrics)
Eminem, Jeff Bass, Luis Resto wrote “Lose Yourself” for the film 8 Mile . As a reminder, Eminem also starred in this movie. Eminem also performs on the track. “Lose Yourself” was the first hip-hop song to win Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. It’s an empowering hip-hop song about persevering through life’s struggles and going after your dreams. “Lose Yourself” also got five Grammy Award nominations including Song and Record of the Year and ended up winning two for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Solo Performance. The music video that accompanied the song won an MTV Music Video Award for Best Video from a Film.
A huge commercial success as well, “Lose Yourself” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for an impressive twelve consecutive weeks. “Lose Yourself” also hit number one in twenty-three other countries worldwide. “Lose Yourself” has also been certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America, selling 10 million copies in the United States alone. It has been included in many impressive “best” lists. The tune placed at one hundred and sixty-six in Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time, only one of three hip-hop songs to be included.
“Lose Yourself” also featured on Rolling Stones list of the 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All-Time. VH1 placed the song at number four on their list of the Best Songs from the 2000’s. “Lose Yourself” also ranked at number ninety-three on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Songs list from 2004. It has infiltrated its way into many facets of pop culture. Various television shows, commercials, and sporting events featured the song. “Lose Yourself” also has covers from a wide variety of artists like Lupe Fiasco, Machine Gun Kelly, Taylor Swift, and “Weird Al” Yankovic and Dave Chappelle parodied it. “Lose Yourself” continues to inspire.
1. “Shallow” – A Star is Born (2018)
Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt (Music & Lyrics)
In an unforgettable performance scene between the film’s leads, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in “A Star is Born”, a modern classic was born. Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt wrote “Shallow”. And Gaga and Benjamin Rice produced the song. “Shallow” only came out into the world a few years ago. But it quickly entered the history books as a song that won a lot of awards worldwide. Some of its’ most notable awards are the Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, Best Song at the Critics’ Choice Awards and BAFTA Award for Best Film Music. “Shallow” got four GRAMMY awards including Record and Song of the Year. And it ended up winning two for Best Pop/Duo Group Performance and Best Song Written for Visual Media.
Rolling Stone listed “Shallow” as the second best song of 2018 and fourteenth best song of the 2010’s decade. “Shallow” hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, US Dance Club Songs and US Rolling Stone Top 100. “Shallow” also hit number one in twenty other countries worldwide and charted within the top five in thirteen other countries. In 2019 alone, the song received 10.2 million in sales equivalent units worldwide. There have also been various cover versions performed and recorded by many well-known artists like Faith Hill & Tim McGraw, the Pentatonix, Billy Porter, Kelly Clarkson and Lewis Capaldi. “Shallow” currently has over one billion views on YouTube. And Spotify users have streamed it 1.4 billion times.