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Ranking the Oscar best song nominees -- Gwyneth!

Kelly (Gwyneth Paltrow) readily agrees to sing for

Kelly (Gwyneth Paltrow) readily agrees to sing for Travis (Gabe Sipos) as Travis's mom (Lisa Stewart Seals) sits beside him in Screen Gems' drama " Country Strong" directed by Shana Feste. In theatres : Limited Release December 22, 2010 / Wide Release January 7, 2011 . (Scott Garfield/Screen Gems ) Photo Credit: Screen Gems Photo/

The ever-inscrutable Oscar nominations for Best Original Song are out and they continue to confuse.

John Legend’s wonderful “Shine” from “Waiting for Superman” was robbed and Eddie Vedder should have had a chance for “Better Days” from “Eat Pray Love.” And, man, Jonsi’s “Sticks and Stones” from “How to Train Your Dragon” would’ve been a great nominee. (Also, sorry, Debbie Gibson, you didn’t make the cut.)

In any case, here are the nominees: 

“Coming Home” from “Country Strong,” performed by Gwyneth Paltrow
(Music and Lyric by Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey) (UPDATE: DiPiero's name was omitted from the initial Oscar list.)

It’s the kind of big, sappy ballad – with mentions of “double-wides” and the occasional pedal steel guitar to keep it “country” – that Oscar voters love. The soundtrack’s pop success may also help it get the win and Gwyneth’s star power may help get some performances back on the big broadcast.

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“I See the Light” from “Tangled,” performed by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi
(Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater)

Ooh, Mandy Moore gets breathy and all old-fashioned and stuff. And Zachary Levi (TV’s “Chuck”!) goes all Groban-ny. Pretty, but no.

"If I Rise" from "127 Hours," performed by Dido and A.R. Rahman
(Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong)

The combination of Dido’s haunting voice and A.R. Rahman’s yearning captures the mood of “127 Hours” almost perfectly. A dark horse, but Rahman has already won for “Slumdog Millionaire,” so it’s possible.

"We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3," performed by Randy Newman
(Music and Lyric by Randy Newman)

I so wanted this to be Randy Newman’s version of the Mariah Carey song. (Can’t you imagine him singing, “Oh baby-baby we belong together”?) This is a happy enough song, but not all that different from previous Newman nominees.


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