Talking Points

Give Eurovision Song Contest the Oscar for Best Original Song

It's official: The songs in Eurovision Song Contest are good.

And one of them, anyway, is now Oscar shortlisted for Best Original Song. "Húsavík" — the soaring climactic number performed by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams (whose vocals are voiced by Swedish pop singer Molly Sandén) in Netflix's Eurovision parody — ought to have no business competing alongside serious heavyweights like Leslie Odom, Jr.'s "Speak Now," John Legend's "Never Break," or Janelle Monáe's "Turntables." I wasn't even sure, when I heard it the first time, if it was intended to be a good song. But the truth is, "Húsavík" is a bilingual banger, and it absolutely deserves to go all the way.

Best Original Song tends to be one of the worst categories of the Oscar ceremony, a gimme either for EGOT-bound celebrities whose forgettable ballads played over the closing credits as you were filing out of the theater, or for whatever Disney movie came out that year. Because of the tight specifications it takes for a song to qualify — the track must have been written specifically for the movie, and be "important" to its film — quality runs the gamut from "Over the Rainbow" to "Coming Home," which unforgivably made Country Strong an Oscar-nominated film. Some years, like 2011, are so weak, that only two songs were even nominated; in other years, the winner is so preordained — "Shallow," from A Star is Born, for example — that you barely needed to bother reading off the other nominees.

To be sure, "Húsavík" is not a 2020 frontrunner ("Speak Now" is the heavy favorite). In fact, it's considered less of a contender than "Wuhan Flu," from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm — and neither truly has much of a shot, since the Academy historically does not like songs from comedies. But "Húsavík" is not only charmingly earnest, it has the markings of an Oscar classic, with Sandén's uplifting vocals in both English and Icelandic, and her "absolute whopper of a high note" at the end, that, "like the scream in 'Shallow,' … makes your hair stand on end," Vulture wrote. Plus people seem to genuinely like "Húsavík"; the song hit the top-10 of the worldwide iTunes chart, and peaked at no. 2 on the Icelandic charts. Rewarding this success would illustrate the category can embrace a sense of humor, and that it takes a little more creativity than writing a song with the title of the latest James Bond film in the lyrics to win.

Besides, it's the least the Academy can do for snubbing "Ja Ja Ding Dong."