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From Bob Dylan to Elton John: Every winner of 'Best Original Song' at the Oscars

The right piece of music can turn a good film into a spectacular one, adding a level of unavoidable poignancy to pictures that can only be achieved through the medium of sound. Nobody knows this importance more so than filmmakers, and the list of acclaimed winners of ‘Best Original Song’ at the Academy Awards speaks for itself.

The last twelve months have been the most peculiar in recent memory, with the pandemic affecting almost every industry on the planet. When the previous Oscars ceremony took place in February 2020, it provided one of the final glimpses of the world as we once knew it. Fourteen months later, cinemas have been closed for the majority of the interim period, and the films which have made their way to screens have largely arrived through streaming services.

Throughout all the uncertainty, the film industry has found a way to continue despite the adversity, and this year’s Academy Awards will be a celebratory night. The ‘Best Original Song’ category features tracks from the likes of Celeste and H.E.R., who are both looking at writing their names into Oscars history.

Ever since the Academy introduced the category in 1934, it has become one of the most talked-about parts of the annual event. The first winner was Herb Magidson & Con Conrad’s piece ‘The Continental’, which the duo created for the film The Gay Divorcee.

Acclaimed winners of the award include Bruce Springsteen, who took home the gong in 1993 for ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’, which appeared in Philadelphia. The track was the first that The Boss ever wrote specifically for a movie, after previously giving Paul Schrader’ Light Of Day’ in 1987, but he had already written it before Schrader asked for a song.

Bob Dylan is another artist with a ‘Best Orignal Song’ award to his name after his track, ‘Things Have Changed’ from The Wonder Boys, beat off fellow nominees in 2000. In his speech, a proud Dylan said: “I want to thank the members of the Academy who were bold enough to give me this award for this song, which obviously is a song that doesn’t pussyfoot around nor turn a blind eye to human nature.”

Meanwhile, Elton John has won the award on two occasions. The iconic singer won in 1994 for the powerful ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ in 1994 from The Lion King. Later, Elton again won the revered prize in 2020 for ‘(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again’. The latter was a special award for him as it featured in the biopic of his own life, Rocketman.

Elton was visibly emotional during his speech during last year’s event, as he told the crowd: “Thank you to Bernie (Taupin), who has been the constant thing in my life when I was screwed up, when I was normal. To my beautiful boys who are watching this in Sydney, how much do I love you? Daddy loves you.”

Check out the list below, which compiles all the previous winners in this category and a handy Spotify playlist to get you in the mood for Sunday. However, some of the songs aren’t available on the streaming service or are different versions of the original track. 

Every ‘Best Original Song’ Oscar winner:

  • 2019 ‘(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again’ – Elton John & Taron Egerton
  • 2018 ‘Shallow’ – Lady Gaga feat. Bradley Cooper
  • 2017 ‘Remember Me’ – Miguel
  • 2016 ‘City of Stars’ – Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
  • 2015 ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ – Sam Smith
  • 2014 ‘Glory’ – Common & John Legend
  • 2013 ‘Let It Go’ – Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
  • 2012 ‘Skyfall’ – Adele
  • 2011 ‘Man or Muppet’ – Bret McKenzie
  • 2010 ‘We Belong Together’ – Randy Newman
  • 2009 ‘The Weary Kind’ – Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett
  • 2008 ‘Jai Ho’ – A. R. Rahman
  • 2007 ‘Falling Slowly’ – Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
  • 2006 ‘I Need to Wake Up’ – Melissa Etheridge
  • 2005 ‘It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp’ – Juicy J, Frayser Boy, and DJ Paul
  • 2004 ‘Al Otro Lado del río’ – Jorge Drexler
  • 2003 ‘Into the West’ – Fran Walsh, Howard Shore, and Annie Lennox
  • 2002 ‘Lose Yourself’ – Eminem, Jeff Bass, and Luis Resto
  • 2001 ‘If I Didn’t Have You’ – Randy Newman
  • 2000 ‘Things Have Changed’ – Bob Dylan
  • 1999 ‘You’ll Be in My Heart’ – Phil Collins
  • 1998 ‘When You Believe’ – Stephen Schwartz
  • 1997 ‘My Heart Will Go On’ – James Horner
  • 1996 ‘You Must Love Me’ – Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • 1995 ‘Colors of the Wind’ – Alan Menken
  • 1994 ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ – Elton John
  • 1993 ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ – Bruce Springsteen
  • 1992 ‘A Whole New World’ – Brad Kane and Lea Salonga
  • 1991 ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – Angela Lansbury
  • 1990 ‘Sooner or Later’ – Madonna
  • 1989 ‘Under the Sea’ by Samuel E. Wright
  • 1988 ‘Let the River Run’ by Carly Simon
  • 1987 ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
  • 1986 ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin
  • 1985 ‘Say You, Say Me’ by Lionel Richie
  • 1984 ‘I Just Called to Say’ I Love You by Stevie Wonder
  • 1983 ‘Flashdance… What a Feeling’ by Irene Cara
  • 1982 ‘Up Where We Belong’ by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
  • 1981 ‘Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)’ by Christopher Cross
  • 1980 ‘Fame’ by Irene Cara
  • 1979 ‘It Goes Like It Goes’ by Jennifer Warnes
  • 1978 ‘Last Dance’ by Donna Summer
  • 1977 ‘You Light Up My Life’ by Kasey Cisyk
  • 1976 ‘Evergreen’ by Barbra Streisand
  • 1975 ‘I’m Easy’ by Keith Carradine
  • 1974 ‘We May Never Love Like This Again’ by Maureen McGovern
  • 1973 ‘The Way We Were’ by Barbra Streisand
  • 1972 ‘The Morning After’ by Maureen McGovern
  • 1971 ‘Theme from Shaft’ by Isaac Hayes
  • 1970 ‘For All We Know’ by Larry Meredith
  • 1969 ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’ by B. J. Thomas
  • 1968 ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’ by Noel Harrison
  • 1967 ‘Talk to the Animals’ by Rex Harrison
  • 1966 ‘Born Free’ by Matt Monro
  • 1965 The Shadow of Your Smile’ by Jack Sheldon
  • 1964 ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’ by Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews
  • 1963 ‘Call Me Irresponsible’ by Jackie Gleason
  • 1962 ‘Days of Wine and Roses’ by Andy Williams
  • 1961 ‘Moon River’ by Henry Mancini & Orchestra
  • 1960 ‘Never on Sunday’ by Melina Mercouri
  • 1959 ‘High Hopes’ by Frank Sinatra
  • 1958 ‘Gigi’ by Louis Jourdan
  • 1957 ‘All the Way’ by Frank Sinatra
  • 1956 ‘Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)’ by Doris Day
  • 1955 ‘Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing’ by The Four Aces
  • 1954 ‘Three Coins in the Fountain’ by Frank Sinatra
  • 1953 ‘Secret Love’ by Doris Day
  • 1952 ‘The Ballad of High Noon’ by Dimitri Tiomkin
  • 1951 ‘In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening’ by Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman with Matty Matlock’s All-Stars and the Four Hits and a Miss
  • 1950 ‘Mona Lisa’ by Nat King Cole, Captain Carey, U.S.A.
  • 1949 ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, Dean Martin and Marilyn Maxwell, Bing Crosby and James Stewart, Neptune’s Daughter
  • 1948 ‘Buttons, and Bows’ by Bob Hope and Jane Russell
  • 1947 ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’ by James Baskett
  • 1946 ‘On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe’ by Johnny Mercer
  • 1945 ‘It Might as Well Be Spring’ by Dick Haymes
  • 1944 ‘Swinging on a Star’ by Bing Crosby
  • 1943 ‘You’ll Never Know’ by Alice Faye
  • 1942 ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby
  • 1941 ‘The Last Time I Saw Paris by Ann Southern
  • 1940 ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ by Cliff Edwards
  • 1939 ‘Over the Rainbow’ by Judy Garland
  • 1938 ‘Thanks for the Memory’ by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross
  • 1937 ‘Sweet Leilani’ by Bing Crosby with Lani McIntyre and His Hawaiians
  • 1936 ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ by Fred Astaire
  • 1935 ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ by Wini Shaw
  • 1934 ‘The Continental’ by Ginger Rogers