Lana Del Rey: Robbed of the Oscar, as her Maleficent follow-up confirms

I was astonished when Lana Del Rey’s haunting “Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby wasn’t even nominated for Best Song.

“Young and Beautiful” should have won!  Just one more reminder that awards are not the final arbiter of quality.

Now comes the new Disney film Maleficent, a backstory look at the villainess of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, starring Angelina Jolie and featuring Lana Del Rey’s fabulously spooky version of “Once Upon a Dream,”  a song from the 1959 animated movie based on Tchaikovsky’s original music for the ballet The Sleeping Beauty.

Will Ms. Del Rey win recognition for her magnificent Maleficent cover?  I hope so.  I love her voice, love her unique approach to styling a song.

Although . . . not completely unique, now that I think about it.

One of my favorite television shows ever was “SCTV,” an early ’80s late-night show out of Toronto that had an incredible all-star cast (pre-stardom): Eugene Levy, John Candy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Harold Ramis, Martin Short, Joe Flaherty, and Dave Thomas.  Every time I listen to Lana Del Rey, I can’t help but recall this SCTV skit  advertising Perry Como’s triumphant return to the concert stage in the “Still Alive” tour, featuring an almost comatose Como (Eugene Levy) surrounded by disco-era dancers and backup singers.  Mr. Relaxation, indeed 🙂

To conclude: Lana Del Rey deserved the 2013 Academy Award for Best Original Song, in my opinion.  Sadly, her complete reworking of “Once Upon a Dream” won’t qualify because the song was written for Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty.  She probably can’t even win the Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media, because that award also goes to the composer, not the performer—and although now nearly unrecognizable as the original, “Once Upon a Dream” was written by Jack Lawrence and Sammy Fain.

But maybe Del Rey could win the Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) if she is the person responsible for the dark and foreboding arrangement of this new version of the song.  I hope so.  What a talent!

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. My blog is a space for playing with ideas about creativity, innovation, lifelong learning, and the nature of "insight."
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