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Academy Awards Change Best Original Song Rules

June 29, 2009 3:29 PM ET

The Academy Awards recently upped the amount of Best Picture nominees from five films to 10 (Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers is still wondering "Why?"), and now the Oscar rule changes have seeped into the Best Original Song category. After this year saw only three songs nominated, including two from Slumdog Millionaire, the Music Branch Executive Committee will now require that only songs that average an 8.25 score — songs are rated from 6 to 10 by Academy members — can be nominated in the category, Billboard.biz reports. If no songs average 8.25, then that Oscar year will not feature a Best Original Song category.

If only one song clears the 8.25 barrier, then the next highest-ranked track will join that song as a nominee, regardless of its score, just so there's a little suspense on Oscar night. The old Best Original Song category only called for an 8.5 required aggregated score, with a maximum of five and a minimum of three songs in the category each year. However, as the Best Picture category has doubled, that requires more screen time, and the Best Original Song was one of the casualties of the clock. Under the new rules, fewer nominees also means less performances, however the category will still have a five-song maximum if the votes warrant it.

As it stands now, Academy voters will still be shown clips of the song being used in a movie when voting on the category, a practice that has affected songs like Prince's Happy Feet contribution "Song of the Heart," Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler" and Eddie Vedder's Into the Wild track "Guaranteed" — tunes that soundtrack the end credits but lose a lot their meaning when isolated from the rest of the film. All three songs won the Golden Globes' Best Original Song category, yet none earned even an Oscar nod.

Related Stories:
Travers Take: Oscar Doubles Best Picture Nominees from 5 to 10 â€" the Question is WHY?
Oscars Snub Springsteen, Celebrate "Slumdog" As Nominations Are Announced
Oscars: Depp and Blanchett Nominated, Vedder and Greenwood Shut Out

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