Pop goes the Oscars — nominations were announced on Thursday morning, and among the music-related categories are a few Top 40 boldfaces, scoring their first nod from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
U2 earned an original song nomination for the band’s first track in three years — “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which sings of two people trying to stay together while dealing with personal and political struggles. Bono said that when he was writing the song, he was inspired by the love letters that Nelson Mandela sent to his wife, Winnie, while imprisoned on Robben Island.
“It didn’t feel appropriate to write an anthem for this movie,” Bono said. “We found a theme of common decency that inspired us, and it’s a plea for a common decency in a marriage.” The band was previously nominated for “The Hands That Built America” from Gangs of New York in 2003.
Competing with U2 in the category is Pharrell Williams with “Happy” from Despicable Me 2. The singer-rapper-producer, who has also served as a music consultant for the Academy Awards, also released what is described as the first-ever 24-hour music video for the track, with an online playback that corresponds to the local time of the listener. The lighthearted video features guest spots from Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, Steve Martin and Steve Carell, among others.
If Williams wins, he will be the third-ever rapper to receive an Oscar, following Eminem for “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile and Three Six Mafia for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow.
Karen O, lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is also nominated for best original song — “The Moon Song” from Her. She wrote the music for the acoustic track, and penned the lyrics with Her director-screenwriter Spike Jonze. The seasoned soundtrack songstress previously earned a Grammy songwriting nomination in 2010 for “All is Love” from Where the Wild Things Are, which was also directed by Jonze.
The other two nominations in the category are “Alone Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel, and “Let It Go” from Frozen by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Among the category’s pop-related snubs were original songs by Coldplay (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” Ed Sheeran (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), Taylor Swift (One Chance), Jay Z and Lana Del Rey (The Great Gatsby).
In the original score category, Arcade Fire’s William Butler earned a nod for his harmonious collaboration on Her with Owen Pallett, alongside the scores from Gravity, Saving Mr. Banks, The Book Thief and Philomena. Hear a snippet of their work in the trailer below.
The Academy Awards, hosted by Ellen Degeneres, will air live on Sunday, Mar. 2, on ABC.
Will pop take home the top prizes in the Oscars’ music categories? Sound off in the comments below.
Editor’s note: This article initially attributed Her’s score to Win Butler.