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Hear 5 Oscar nominees for Best Original Song

NEW YORK - Five songs of very different styles and narrative intent were nominated this week for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Performed on-screen by Adele, Norah Jones, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson and Bombay Jayashri, the five songs can be heard by clicking on the embedded video players below. Be sure to vote in our poll on which you think should win!

"Before My Time" (from "Chasing Ice")

Written and produced by J. Ralph, "Before My Time" was played under the credits of the documentary "Chasing Ice," which documents the melting of glaciers and the Earth's changing climate.

Performed by Scarlett Johansson, accompanied by violinist Joshua Bell (who played on the Oscar-winning soundtrack of "The Red Violin"), the song is haunting in its simplicity - and smartly is not specific to climate change, but rather to the limitations of time.

Cold feet, don't fail me now
So much left to do
If I should run ten thousand miles home
Would you be there?

Just a taste of things to come
I still smile

But I don't want to die alone
I don't want to die alone
Way before my time

Keep calm and carry on
No worse for the wear

I don't want to die alone
I don't want to die alone
Way before my time

Is it any wonder
All this empty air
I'm drowning in the laughter
Way before my time has come

"Skyfall"

Bond theme songs are as inseparable from the film franchise's brand as Bond Girls, gadgets, and villains who think they can get the better of 007. But Bond theme songs have never gotten the better of Oscar voters - only three Bond themes ("Live and Let Die," by Paul McCartney & Wings; Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager's "Nobody Does It Better," from "The Spy Who Loved Me"; and Bill Conti & Mick Leeson's "For Your Eyes Only"), and Burt Bacharach/Hal David's "The Look of Love," from the 1967 Bond parody "Casino Royale," have been nominated for an Academy Award, and none has won. (Even Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger" was totally ignored, go figure.)

If there is an artist today who can match Bassey's bravura performance it is Grammy-winner Adele, who composed the theme from "Skyfall" with Paul Epworth. There was some concern that the song, arranged by J. A. C. Redford, couches its sound too heavily in chords borrowed from the classic Monty Norman/John Barry Bond theme and be ruled ineligible, but cooler heads prevailed over this very cool tune.

Daniel Kleinman, who designed "Skyfall"'s mesmerizing opening credit sequence, has released this video, sans titles, of the piece. (Dive in by clicking the player above.)

Following the announcement of Oscar nominations Thursday Adele tweeted:

To hear more nominees, and to take our poll, turn to page 2.


"Everybody Needs A Best Friend" (from "Ted")

This brassy tune (music by Walter Murphy, lyrics by Seth MacFarlane) is light and airy, and exudes none of the crassness of the talking stuffed bear that is Mark Wahlberg's pal in MacFarlane's potty-mouthed comedy.

No matter, when the sentiments are voiced by Norah Jones (who also appears in a concert scene in the film), even the most disingenuous character traits can sound desirable.

Oh you got a head full of someone dreadful
But how that someone adores you
Everybody needs a best friend
I'm happy I'm yours

A fool could see decidedly
That you're a ten and I'm a three
A royal breed is what you need
So how did you come to be stuck with a bummer like me

I'm just a clown
And I'll bring you down
But you just don't care
'Cause your best friend is me

After his nomination was announced Thursday, MacFarlane (who is hosting the Academy Awards broadcast on February 24) quipped, "That's kind of cool I got nominated. I get to go to the Oscars!"

"Suddenly" (from "Les Miserables")

It is typical that when Hollywood translates a stage musical to the screen, a new song or two is added, in the hope that an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song can be wrung from recycled music. Hey, it worked for "Grease" ("Hopelessly Devoted to You"), "A Chorus Line" ("Surprise, Surprise"), "Little Shop of Horrors" ("Mean Green Mother From Outer Space"), "Evita" ("You Must Love Me"), "Chicago" ("I Move On"), "The Phantom of the Opera" ("Learn to Be Lonely"), "Nine" (Take It All"), and THREE times for "Dreamgirls" ("Listen," "Love You I Do" and "Patience").

Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil, the team behind the smash hit musical "Les Miserables," penned this new song, performed in the film by Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), which underscores Valjean's love for the young Cosette.

Suddenly I see
Suddenly it starts
When two anxious hearts
Beat as one.

Yesterday I was alone
Today you walk beside me
Something still unclear
Something not yet here
Has begun.

"Pi's Lullaby" (from "Life of Pi")

For Ang Lee's fable, told as a remembrance bathed in memories of childhood and home, composer Mychael Danna and singer/lyricist Bombay Jayashri collaborated on this opening credits lullaby (as if sung by the narrator's mother to her child).

Danna, whose credits include films by Atom Egoyan, Mira Nair and Terry Gilliam, and who has recorded much music in India, typically blurs the boundaries of Western and Eastern music in his work. Mirroring the juxtaposition of different cultures and faiths that the central character explores in his home country, the music in "Life of Pi" combines Indian and Western instruments with Tamil lyrics, reverting from major to minor chords and back again.

The result is beguiling and wistful - a perfect accompaniment for a young soul lost in a magical sea, far from home.

Correction: The lyrics of "Pi's Lullaby" are in Tamil.

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