Oscars: 'Lego Movie' Song 'Everything Is Awesome' Created During Bitter Divorce
And that's just one of the interesting backstories behind each of this year's nominated songs.
This story first appeared in the Feb. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Every song — even the ones that get nominated for an Oscar — begins with a single note. Sometimes the rest of the tune floods into a musician's head in a tidal wave of creativity; other times it's more like a trickle. Below, THR talks to the nominees for best original song about how they wrote their numbers, what inspired them and the sometimes-painful process of recording the songs.
Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois, "Lost Stars" from Begin Again
"Danielle and I [members of the '90s band The New Radicals] always wanted to make a segue into film, but we wanted it to be something that was different and had something to say. I got a call from John Carney, the director — he got my number from Bono — and he started telling me about this film that he wanted to make about how important music is to our lives but how it seems to be changing and moving to a place we don't recognize. I said, 'Will music be important in it?' He said, 'Yes, it'll be the heart and soul of the film.' "
Common, with John Legend, "Glory" from Selma
"Ava DuVernay is someone I got to meet at Sundance in 2012, and she eventually cast me in Selma, which is how I first came to be a part of it. But as I went through the process as an actor, the film really touched me, so Ava said, 'Do you want to do some music for it?' And I said, 'Yes!' I'm a hip-hop artist, [but] I didn't think it would be appropriate for a film that's about Dr. King and the civil rights movement to have a rap — it just didn't feel like during the film I would want to hear rap. That's how I felt. Once I laid my vocals, we sent it over. At that point, Ava said, 'I like this, but we still need more. We need something like "We Are the World." ' I was like, 'Oh man, that's depressing. "We Are the World"? Like, do you understand what you just asked for?' But she was talking about just a song that had some type of spirit to it but still could feel worldly."
Shawn Patterson, "Everything Is Awesome" from The Lego Movie
"I was going through a very ugly divorce when I wrote that song. All of us, I'm assuming, have gone through horrible breakups at some point. So part of what we do, I guess, with our tools and what we feel and have studied, is we create. I wrote pages and pages and pages of lyrics, trying different concepts. There were definitely elements of darkness seeping into my lyrics — sarcasm, heavy f—ing sarcasm. And I'm like, 'Hold on. Don't get too sarcastic in this part.' That's why I had pages and pages. It was very therapeutic, in many ways."
Julian Raymond, with Glen Campbell, "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
"During the making of the film [a documentary about Campbell's battle with Alzheimer's], Glen had a particularly bad day, and he said to me: 'I wish everybody would quit talking about this Alzheimer's thing. I don't know what they're making such a big deal about. It's not like I'm going to miss anybody anyway.' So I thought, 'I'm not going to miss you.' It triggered something in me. It just takes that spark. Recording the song had to be very simple because of Glen's condition. [I fed him the song] a couple of words at a time, holding a sign in front of him. It took four and a half hours to get a two-and-a-half-minute song."
Diane Warren, "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights
"A friend of mine [and I] were having dinner last year, and she said, 'I have the movie that you're going to win an Oscar for.' I go, 'I'm a six-time loser [the last time was in 2002 for Pearl Harbor]. I don't know if I could win one of these things.' She arranged for me to see the movie and I loved it, and I just kind of came up with something. I came up with the chorus. This movie is really about someone finding her own voice, and I wanted to write a song that really spoke of that."