Original songs drive the soundtracks of our favorite films and often linger in our heads long after we leave the theater. This Sunday, the 94th Academy Awards will honor success in this field through the Best Original Song award. From Beyoncé’s “Be Alive” setting the stage for King Richard’s rigorous tennis training montages to Billie Eilish’s “No Time to Die” intensifying the emotional conclusion to Daniel Craig’s portrayal of James Bond in No Time to Die, this year’s Best Original Song nominees transport listeners into the creative artistry of this year’s most celebrated films. Read on to learn more about this year’s Best Original Song nominees.
“Be Alive” from King Richard; Music and Lyric by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Beyoncé was inspired to write “Be Alive” after attending an early screening of King Richard, the biopic following Venus and Serena Williams’ father, Richard Williams, as he coached his girls to tennis stardom. The driving R&B and rock track serves as an anthem for the adolescent twin athletes as they pursue their goals with their family’s support, much like Beyoncé’s own journey to fame as a singer-songwriter.
This is Beyoncé’s first Academy Award nomination, and her latest release since her 2020 visual album, Black Is King. This nomination comes on the heels of her historic wins at the 2021 GRAMMY® Awards—which made her the Recording Academy’s most-awarded female artist and most-awarded male or female singer.
King Richard is also nominated for Best Picture.
“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto; Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda
While Disney’s Encanto was filled with songs that found viral fame including “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and “Surface Pressure,” “Dos Oruguitas”—which was featured during a flashback scene of the Madrigal family’s tragic past—was the film’s emotional standout track. The tear-jerking folk ballad was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and performed in Spanish by Sebastian Yatra.
An Oscar® win for “Dos Oruguitas” would score Miranda an EGOT, the achievement of earning all four major American entertainment awards (an Emmy®, a GRAMMY, an Oscar and a Tony Award®). Past notable EGOT winners include Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, Whoopi Goldberg and John Legend.
“Down to Joy” from Belfast; Music and Lyric by Van Morrison
“Down to Joy,” written for the Kenneth Branagh-directed semi-autobiographical motion picture Belfast, was recorded by Van Morrison during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Earning his first Academy Award nomination, Morrison combined rock, soul and blues to soundtrack Branagh’s coming-of-age story. “Down to Joy” may sound familiar to diehard fans of Morrison, as the song borrows melodies and lyrics from the singer’s 1970’s unreleased demo, “Coming Down to Joy.”
The 76-year-old Belfast-born legend contributed nine songs to the film’s soundtrack. Belfast is also nominated for Best Picture.
“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die; Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
Already collecting wins at the GRAMMY and Golden Globe® Awards, “No Time to Die” was written by sibling duo Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell. Eilish made history as the youngest artist (18-years-old) to write and perform the James Bond title track in the franchise’s 50-year history. The R&B-inspired orchestral pop ballad rose in popularity on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, peaking at #16.
Beyond their success with No Time to Die, Elilish and O’Connell are no strangers to the awards circuit, famously bringing home ten combined trophies at the 2020 GRAMMY Awards. This is Eilish and O’Connell’s first Academy Award nomination.
“Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
Four Good Days’ country track “Somehow You Do” was written by songwriter Diane Warren in collaboration with Reba McEntire, who performed the song. Warren used the song’s lyrics to convey the tension between the film’s mother and daughter duo—played by Glenn Close and Mila Kunis—driving home the message about finding resilience and strength at the hardest of times.
Warren is well-acquainted with the Best Original Song category, with “Somehow You Do” being her 13th nomination in the category. Her first nomination dates back to 1988, which she earned for her rock power ballad “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” written for Michael Gottieb’s Mannequin.
Tune in to the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday night to find out who’ll take home the Oscar for Best Original Song. The show will be broadcast live on March 27 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC (check local listings).