Songs performed by Metric, Randy Newman, Justin Bieber and Eddie Vedder have made the 41-track shortlist for the Best Original Song award at the 83rd Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this morning. Coldplay's Chris Martin wrote the shortlisted "Me and Tennessee" for Country Strong, the forthcoming movie starring his wife Gwyneth Paltrow as a fallen Nashville star on the comeback trail.
The 41 songs run the gamut stylistically, with the fiery Canadian outfit Metric's contribution to the Twilight soundtrack "Eclipse (All Yours)" facing off against a Diane Warren-penned ballad sung by Cher in Burlesque, Neptunes leader Pharrell's theme from Despicable Me, Oscar stalwart Randy Newman's lighthearted ode to friendship from Toy Story 3 "We Belong Together" and Martin's foray into country music.
Justin Bieber's contribution to The Karate Kid soundtrack, "Never Say Never," and Eddie Vedder's original song for Eat Pray Love are also on the shortlist, as are songs performed by Avril Lavigne and Janet Jackson.
The final nominees will be announced on January 25 at 8:30 a.m. ET — although the process by which these 41 songs will turn into a nominees list might result in there being no category at all. Next month, the Academy will hold a session in Los Angeles where voting members of the Music Branch will hear clips featuring each of the songs on the shortlist; there will also be DVD screeners made available for voting members who can't make the event. Members will then vote on the songs from a scale of 1 to 10, and the scores will be averaged.
This is where the fun begins. If no song pulls in an average above 8.25, the category will have zero nominees and no award will be given. If one song gets that score, it and the next-highest-scoring song will be the category's lone nominees. If two to five songs pull that score, they will fill out the category. Only two songs from a single film can make the final nominees list; Burlesque is the only film with more than two songs on the shortlist. (Black Tulip, Country Strong and Despicable Me each have two shortlisted songs.)
Last year, "The Weary Heart" from Crazy Heart won the Best Song Oscar; the TV broadcast of the awards show dispensed with live performances of the nominated songs, and instead had dancers perform while clips of the tracks played.
The 2011 Oscars will be held February 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
41 Original Songs Queue for 2010 Oscar® [OSCARS.org]