Award Bait Song

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Or, Big Damn Bronze Age Disney Style Award Baiting End Credits Power Ballad.

You Tropers who grew up in the early 1990s know what we're talking about, right? It's the kind of song which plays over the end credits (usually) of an animated (usually) Disney (usually) movie (usually) from the 90s (usually). They each share a distinctive style and, as per the title, once you hear it you just know it's going to get nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song.

They generally have at least four of the following distinctive traits:

  • Tends to start out soothing and mellow.
  • Instead of describing events that happen directly in the movie (as the songs in animated musicals tend to), they cover the more sweeping themes of The Power of Love, The Power of Friendship, and so on.
  • Extremely feel-good and/or touching; may be a Tear Jerker.
  • Tend to have a lot of "sparkly" synth.
  • Towards the middle, it gets more and more triumphant and builds to a big, epic finish.
  • For some reason, they are often penned by past-their-prime pop/rock stars, especially if the film isn't actually a musical. If the song is a hit, it may prompt a comeback.
  • If it's a musical, it may appear in the film, but it's occasionally a Cut Song, as in the Pocahontas and Hunchback examples.
  • A "Falling in Love" Montage is a likely context for the song. Bonus points if it's also a ballroom dance.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change

The distinguishing trademark, however, is when the song has a reprise, frequently a duet, done over the end credits. Bonus points if you can get Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion (or someone who sounds like her), Whitney Houston, Peabo Bryson, or Bryan Adams to sing it.

Sounds like the kind of song popularized by nineties Disney films, yes? The funny thing is that the film that probably helped to make this sort of thing popular during this particular part of movie history would be "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail.

Award Bait Songs are also found in many live-action films, notably "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. Many, many films from the late-70's through late-90's had a song like this, leading some critics to call this period the last really amazing time for movie songs. This has been exchanged for "hip" pop songs from the popular artists at the time, and/or more commonly the movie soundtrack.

Note that not every end-credit song is one of these! Movie Bonus Songs in film adaptations of stage musicals are often not these, though they're often accused of being Oscar bids since pre-existing music isn't eligible for Best Original Song. Furthermore, the "Award-Baiting" part isn't the important part, nor is the "End Credits" part. The important part is that the song is strongly associated with a film (or whatever), serves as a fitting capstone, and is in the style described above.

One tactic when trying for an Award Bait Song is to take an existing, usually famous, song and record a Softer and Slower Cover.

For other kinds of popular and/or Award-winning movie songs, see Breakaway Pop Hit and "I Want" Song. Compare The Power of Rock.

Examples of Award Bait Song include:

Anime & Manga


Fan Works

"Now that we're finished that four-part harmony..."

Live-Action TV


Professional Wrestling

  • WWE wrestler Goldust's theme, true to his film-obsessed gimmick, sounds like an instrumental mashup between an Award Bait Song and a more traditional symphonic score.
  • After Shawn Michaels left the WWF for a number of reasons (Shawn said it was due to a knee injury, and famously gave a promo on one of the WWF's programs saying that he had also "lost [his] smile", while the Smart Marks insist it was really because he didn't want to lose to Bret Hart), they aired a special tribute video set to an Award Bait Song, "Tell Me a Lie".


Video Games

Visual Novel

  • All the Yarudora games have memorable Ending Songs, but the one that fits the trope out them all is "Kisetsu o Dakishimete", from the game of the same name. A love ballad sung by Oto Fumi in 1998, it's the only song in the Yarudora games to have entered the Japanese weekly Oricon charts, reaching the #64 rank and being charted for four weeks.

Western Animation

Robin Williams: Because when Canada is gone, there'll be no more Celine Dion!


  • Disney loves this trope soooooo much, that they finish EPCOTs Big Damn Pyrotechnics Show Illuminations: Reflections of Earth with one of these.
    • This trope extends into the other parks, at the Magic Kindgom its in the form of a duet reprise of the song Wishes played after the fireworks show of the same name, and at the Beauty and the Beast Show at Disneys Hollywood Studios guests exit the show while the Celine Dion version plays.
    • If you visit a Disney Theme Park during a Milestone Celebration, and decide to buy one of the soundtracks the gift shops are selling, expect it to include a brand-new Award Bait Song. One example includes "Remember the Magic", sung by Brian McKnight and written for Walt Disney World's 25th anniversary. A rewritten version now plays during the " Holiday Magic" fireworks show. Disneyland's 50th brought "Remember When", sung by Le Ann Rimes and written by Richard Marx. The latter song plays after the "Remember...Dreams Come True" fireworks show, and was sung live at the park by Rimes on May 5, 2005.
    • Naturally, World of Color has it's own song with all sugary-sweetness we expect and love from Disney. (Although, the portion played during the finale sounds less like an Award Bait Song.)
    • Hell, Disney is so in love with this trope that for a whole Space Mountain' had it's own Big Damn Bronze-Age Disney Style Award-Baiting Exit Tunnel Power Ballad. Something surprisingly moving about believing in dreams and reaching for the stars. Not to be outdone, Mission: Space has a similar theme song, entitled "Destiny", about courage and hope and whatnot.
  • Award Bait Songs were so pervasive that in 2003, the Academy revised the rules. Nominees must be written specifically for the film and occur during the main action or as the first song in the credits. A later revision is that only two songs are eligible per movie (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Dreamgirls, and Enchanted had hogged the categories with three nominations each prior to this; the last two actually lost the category presumably due to vote splitting).
  • In the '90s, a pair of artists and a composer created an internet poll to gauge people's opinions of various musical elements. Then, based on the data gathered, they created "The Most Unwanted Song", filled with the most unpopular elements on the survey, and "The Most Wanted Song", filled with the most popular. The latter is total award bait.
  1. although Kermit and Piggy do sing the regular version of the song during the movie itself
  2. Or at least a parody.