Any way you look at it, Coolio’s ”Gangsta’s Paradise,” from Dangerous Minds, was the ultimate movie song. Not only did it help the classroom yarn attract teen audiences, it also became Billboard’s No. 1 single of the year. But thanks to a classic Oscar irony, it won’t be among the Best Song nominees on Feb. 12. By sampling Stevie Wonder’s ”Pastime Paradise,” the song violates an Oscar edict: Nominees must be original, created expressly for the movie.
For those eager to see the rapper perform in front of the staid Academy, it’s devastating news. ”This is the ’90s,” says a spokeswoman from Coolio’s Tommy Boy records. ”They ought to get with the times.” The Academy’s not likely to make an exception, but some other rules are being changed. Taking a cue from the Golden Globes, which divides awards into categories (Musical/Comedy and Drama), this year two Oscars will be awarded for Best Score. This means a serious score, like composer John Williams’ Nixon, will not go up against Pocahontas.
And even without Coolio, this year’s Best Song category will offer its share of rock glitterati. Among the contenders:
– U2’s grinding ”Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” from this summers’s Batman Forever, has a shot. (Seal’s gorgeous ”Kiss From a Rose” is ineligible because it first appeared on his 1994 CD.)
– Bruce Springsteen, who snared Oscar gold with ”Streets of Philadelphia,” could end up with bookends. Besides the title song for Tim Robbins’ Dead Man Walking, he contributed ”Missing” to Sean Penn’s The Crossing Guard.
– Whitney Houston will likely nab a nom for Waiting to Exhale’s ”Exhale (Shoop Shoop).
– Sting’s Leaving Las Vegas contributions are all pop standards, so they’re out. But the rock squire will likely get an invite because of ”Moonlight” from Sabrina, which was written by Oscar favorites John Williams and Alan and Marilyn Bergman.
–Bryan Adams, the Barry Manilow of movie songdom, could win a trophy for ”Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” from the romance Don Juan DeMarco.
– Also packing heat is Oscar winner Carole Bayer Sager for cowriting Forget Paris’ ”When You Love Someone,” and the Randy Newman-Lyle Lovett duet, ”You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” from Toy Story.
But sheer weirdness and renewed interest in all things Beatle may land Julian Lennon a nomination. he’s cowritten ”Cole’s Song,” for the upcoming Mr. Holland’s Opus, in which John Lennon’s death is a plot point. Imagine.