Is this the Grammys or the Oscars?

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When the hip-hop trio Three 6 Mafia copped this year’s best-song Oscar for ‘‘It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,’’ from ‘‘Hustle & Flow,’’ light bulbs went off over the heads of musicians and producers across the land. If this little-known act could get the gold for a risque song from a small, gritty film — and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could only find three nominees to field — then certainly a better-known artist could score with a traditional pop song from a mainstream movie hit. Thus, in the race to the Kodak Theatre, it’s not going to be quite as easy out there for a pimp this year. Here’s a list of potential contenders who have either recently released or are about to drop their bids for Oscar glory. They join a group that already includes Melissa Etheridge (’’An Inconvenient Truth’’), Jack Johnson (’’Curious George’’), and Randy Newman and James Taylor (’’Cars’’).

Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin, ‘‘Never Gonna Break My Faith" ("Bobby’’)
This churchy, gospel-choir-assisted R&B crowd-pleaser was written by, of all people, Bryan Adams. The dueling queens do their thang, and presumably the studio the song was recorded in has since been fitted for new doors. Sadly, as Demi Moore’s version of ‘‘Louie Louie’’ from the same soundtrack is a cover of an existing song, it is ineligible. (Out now.)

Beyonce, ‘‘Listen" ("Dreamgirls’’)
Included as a hidden track on her recent sophomore album, ‘‘B’Day.’’ The former child of Destiny says she was inspired by her character in the film, Deena Jones, to co-write this big, blowsy ballad about finding yourself and reaching for your dreams. It’s tailor-made for award winning, and she sings it well, but it’s no ‘‘And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.’’ The only shoo-in for a nomination on this list. (Out on ‘‘B’Day’’ now; ‘‘Dreamgirls’’ soundtrack out on Tuesday.)

Chris Cornell, ‘‘You Know My Name" ("Casino Royale’’ )
On the grand scale of Bond themes, this slinky slice of orchestral hard rock from the former Soundgardener and current Audioslave frontman falls somewhere below Shirley Bassey but above a-ha, so right around Duran Duran territory. (Out now.)

Sheryl Crow, ‘‘Try Not to Remember’’ ("Home of the Brave’’)
In the vein of Billy Joel’s ‘‘Goodnight Saigon,’’ only quieter, ‘‘Remember’’ is keening, heartfelt, and deeply melodic. Crow weaves the conflicting emotions of the films’ veterans into an impassioned ballad. Based on musicality alone, a worthy contender. (Out now.)

Tim McGraw, ‘‘My Little Girl’’ ("Flicka’’ )
The country singer and hubby of Faith Hill does double duty by starring in this update of the classic horse movie ‘‘My Friend Flicka’’ and recording its theme song. ‘‘Girl’’ is innocuous country cornpone featuring the likable McGraw advising his baby to ‘‘chase your dreams but always know the road that will lead you home again.’’ (Out now.)

Sarah McLachlan, ‘‘Ordinary Miracle’’ ("Charlotte’s Web’’ )
Everything you’d expect from the Canadian songbird performing the theme song to a beloved children’s story. Not unlike her contribution to the ‘‘Toy Story 2’’ soundtrack, the melancholy ‘‘When She Loved Me,’’ ‘‘Miracle’’ is a gentle, ethereal, simple, and pretty piano ballad. (Out Dec. 5.)

Prince, ‘‘The Song of the Heart’’ ("Happy Feet’’ )
His royal badness already has one little golden guy on his mantle, for 1984’s ‘‘Purple Rain,’’ and this playful little ditty from the animated penguin film is the diametrical opposite of that anthem. All plinky piano, tootly muted trumpet, and lyrics about a unified world, it should give both kids and their parents the film’s title affliction. (Out now.)

Tenacious D, ‘‘POD’’ ("Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny’’)
‘‘The greatest band of all time’’ doing what it does best, singing an irresistibly loony folk-metal tribute to the movie about ‘‘the greatest band of all time.’’ Funny, raucous, and likely to be nominated just so Jack Black and Kyle Gass can liven up the proceedings, sans the naughty bits, of course. (Out now.)

The Boston Globe

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on November 29, 2006 12:41 PM.

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