'The Weary Kind," an old-fashioned country tune sung by Jeff Bridges and written by T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham for the movie "Crazy Heart," has a lock on this year's Oscar for original song. Right? Here are two words to consider: Irene Cara.
Country music has cachet among critics, but Academy voters have a taste for pop. In 1980, a strong year for the original song category, two country legends turned in massive hits that endure to this day: Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again," featured in the film "Honeysuckle Rose," and Dolly Parton's "Nine to Five," from the blockbuster comedy. Who could compete with that?
Cara, that's who. Her theme from "Fame" won the award, though the actual statues went to the songwriters. Nelson hasn't been nominated since. Parton came up again in 2005 (for a song in the indie drama "Transamerica"), but lost to the gimmick rappers Three 6 Mafia for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from "Hustle & Flow."
In 1983, the country song "Over You," performed by Broadway veteran Betty Buckley in the Robert Duvall film "Tender Mercies" got a nod. So did two songs from Barbra Streisand's "Yentl," making for another heavyweight year. Guess who won? That's right: Cara, and this time she won the Oscar as co-writer of the theme to "Flashdance."
For "The Weary Kind (Theme From 'Crazy Heart')," the toughest competition probably comes from Randy Newman's two songs for Disney's animated "The Princess and the Frog," and Maury Yeston's "Take It All," for the musical "Nine."
Luckily, Cara is nowhere to be seen.