February 22, 2008 / 8:51 AM / 9 years ago

"Enchanted" tunes dominate Oscar contenders

<p>Amy Adams, star of the film "Enchanted", poses at the film's premiere in Hollywood, California November 17, 2007.Fred Prouser</p>

NEW YORK (Billboard) - As was the case last year, three tunes from one movie will compete for the best original song Oscar at the Academy Awards on Sunday.

But it's not a given that one of the "Enchanted" entries will win. Last year, the three contenders from "Dreamgirls" were beaten by Melissa Etheridge's "I Need To Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth."

Rounding out this year's field are "Falling Slowly" from the surprise hit "Once," and "Raise It Up" from "August Rush." Here is a look at the nominees.

NOMINATED SONG: "Falling Slowly"

FILM: "Once" (Fox Searchlight)

ARTIST(S): Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

SOUNDTRACK CHART PEAK: No. 2 on Top Soundtracks chart; No. 27 on the Billboard 200

SOUNDTRACK COPIES SOLD: 363,000

(Sales through the week ending February 17, 2008 according to Nielsen SoundScan)

"Once," the little film that could, was released last May and earned more than $9 million at the box office. But its male star, Glen Hansard of veteran Irish band the Frames, almost didn't appear in the movie at all.

Director John Carney had already opted to use Hansard's songs in "Once" before casting, but after the intended star dropped out, he turned to the singer/songwriter, who previously appeared in the film "The Commitments," to fill the role.

"I actually recommended Damien Rice," Hansard recalls. "But John said, 'Then I'd have to use his songs, and I really like these ones I've already chosen."' A few days later, Carney had an epiphany. "It's as plain as the nose on my face that you should be the guy in this film," he told Hansard, who reluctantly agreed.

Hansard plays a busker in the movie, which also stars his bandmate in the Swell Season, Czech singer/pianist Marketa Irglova. The Frames are superstars at home but little-known in the United States. Thanks to strong word-of-mouth, Columbia's "Once" soundtrack has sold over 350,000 copies Stateside, according to Nielsen SoundScan, many times more than that of any Frames record. "If people like the music enough to want to hear it again, they'll draw a line between me and the band," he says. "All they have to do is Google my name and the Frames come up."

Hansard often played the soundtrack's now-nominated "Falling Slowly" solo acoustic during the Frames' North American tour last year. With "Once" having exceeded everyone's expectations, could another film be in the works? "John's talking about making another one at some point, called 'Twice,"' Hansard says. "Then the third one would be called 'Three Times a Lady."'

Hansard and Irglova will be on hand at the Academy Awards ceremony to perform "Falling Slowly."

NOMINATED SONG: "Raise It Up"

FILM: "August Rush" (Warner Bros.)

ARTISTS: Music and lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas

CHART PEAKS: No. 10 on the Top Soundtracks chart; No. 99 on the Billboard 200

SOUNDTRACK COPIES SOLD: 105,000

(Sales through the week ending February 17, 2008 according to Nielsen SoundScan)

"August Rush," which stars Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Freddie Highmore and Jamia Simone Nash, unfolds as a sophisticated fairy tale in which characters are defined by the music they perform. Because the film centers on a young musical prodigy who was separated from his parents at birth, Warner Bros. hosted several in-school music programs across the United States. "The heart of the story is how we respond and connect through music," score composer Mark Mancina says. "The way the (main character) is going to find his parents is through music -- not the Internet or the Yellow Pages."

Warner Bros' marketing push was heavily supported by Sony Music, which issued the movie's soundtrack on November 6. Eleven-year-old Nash, who previously portrayed a young Fantasia Barrino in a 2006 TV movie, will perform "Raise It Up" at the Academy Awards.

NOMINATED SONGS: "Happy Working Song," "So Close" and "That's How You Know"

FILM: "Enchanted" (Walt Disney Pictures)

ARTIST(S): Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

SOUNDTRACK CHART PEAK: No. 5 on Top Soundtracks chart; No. 39 on the Billboard 200

SOUNDTRACK COPIES SOLD: 199,000 (Sales through the week ending February 17, 2008 according to Nielsen SoundScan)

"Enchanted" used 2-D animation, live action and CGI to tell the story of a princess (Amy Adams) who is pushed down a well, comes up through a manhole in modern-day New York and falls in love with a single father (Patrick Dempsey).

And who better to sell a fairy tale than Carrie Underwood? The "American Idol" champ sings the Alan Menken/Stephen Schwartz song "Ever After" at the end of the movie. However, it was not one of the nominated songs. The three numbers nominated, which have collectively sold 177,00 digital downloads, were also written by Menken and Schwartz. "Happy Working Song" will be performed at the ceremony by Adams, "That's How You Know" by Kristin Chenoweth and Marlon Saunders, and "So Close" by Jon McLaughlin.

Reuters/Billboard

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