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Site polls best, worst 'best songs' in Oscar history

| Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, 1:54 p.m.

The best “best song” in Oscar history is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” while the worst “best song” is a tie between two songs from the 1930s and 1940s, according to an informal poll run by the FiveThirtyEight website.

Walt Hickey, FiveThirtyEight's chief culture writer, admits the poll wasn't scientific, but it is interesting and supports his own view that the popularity of the songwriter/singer matters more than the quality of the song.

“In other words, I find the best original song category fascinating because its nominees span such a wide range in quality — the most timeless songs in cinema history and songs that prove the music branch will nominate a ham sandwich if Bono or Randy Newman was involved in making it,” he writes in reporting the results.

The staff made 30-second clips from every winning song and the current nominees and then put them into a random matchup generator .

Participants listened to two clips and picked which song they preferred. The 1939 classic from “The Wizard of Oz” won 91 percent of its matchups.

No. 2 was the 1940 “When You Wish Upon a Star” from “Pinocchio,” which won 80 percent of its matchups.

No. 3 was a tie between 1994's “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King” and 1983's “Flashdance (What a Feeling)” which is from, obviously, “Flashdance.” They won 77 percent of their matchups.

Among the current nominees, “Remember Me” from “Coco” had the highest ranking in a four-way tie for 47th. It won 44 percent of its matchups.

“Mighty River” from “Mudbound” had the lowest score of any nominee at 83rd, winning 30 percent of its matchups.

The worst of the best were “Buttons and Bows” from the 1948's “The Paleface,” and “Sweet Leilani” from 1937's “Waikiki Wedding.”

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, or via Twitter @TribBrian.

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