Award Bait Song

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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:

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