Snubs & Surprises in the 2024 Oscar Music Shortlists


Bruce Springsteen, Jack Black and Justin Timberlake: Don’t feel bad. It happens.

Bruce Springsteen onstage at the DARLENE LOVE: Love for the Holidays event at The Town Hall on November 30, 2023 in New York, New York.

John Nacion for Billboard

When Bruce Springsteen’s “Addicted to Romance” from She Came to Me and Jack Black’s “Peaches” from The Super Mario Bros. Movie were nominated for Golden Globe Awards for best original song 10 days ago, many expected them to be nominated for Oscars in that category too – or at least make the shortlist of 15 contenders from which the nominees are selected. But when the shortlist was announced on Thursday (Dec. 21), both songs were nowhere to be found.

For the most part, though, the pundits got it right. Many of this year’s highly touted songs and scores were shortlisted for Oscars, as predicted.

Three songs from Barbie are shortlisted for best original song. No surprise there. The movie has been a phenomenal hit.

The shortlisting of Lenny Kravitz’s “Road to Freedom” from Rustin and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Can’t Catch Me Now” from The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes were also expected.

In terms of best original scores, the late Robbie Robertson was shortlisted, as expected, for Killers of the Flower Moon, the 12th and last Martin Scorsese film that Robertson worked on. Robertson, who died in June at age 80, is vying to become the first composer to be nominated in this category posthumously since Bernard Herrmann was cited in 1976 for both Obsession and Taxi Driver.

Also expected were the shortlisting of John Williams’ score for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Ludwig Göransson’s score for Oppenheimer, Mica Levi’s score for The Zone of Interest and Daniel Pemberton’s score for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

But there were plenty of snubs and surprises, too. Take a look.

Snub: Bruce Springsteen

The failure of “Addicted to Romance” from She Came to Me to make the shortlist is especially surprising given Springsteen’s Oscar history. He won best original song in 1994 for “Streets of Philadelphia” and was nominated again two years later for “Dead Man Walkin’.” This would have been his first nomination with a collaborator — his wife, Patti Scialfa.

Surprise: Jon Batiste

Batiste has won an Oscar (for Soul) and five Grammys in the past three years, and he’s nominated for six more Grammys at the Feb. 4 ceremony, so we know he is highly regarded. But American Symphony, a Netflix documentary about a year in his life, did unexpectedly well. It was shortlisted for best documentary feature, while Batiste was shortlisted for both best original score and best original song (for co-writing “It Never Went Away” with Dan Wilson).

Snub: Alan Menken, Lin-Manuel Miranda

Menken and Miranda are both awards show royalty. Menken is an EGOT. Miranda will become one as soon as he wins an Oscar (which is proving to be surprisingly difficult). “For the First Time” from The Little Mermaid, which they co-wrote, was passed over for the shortlist for best original song. Halle Bailey sings “For the First Time” onscreen in the film. Menken won his first of four Oscars in this category for “Under the Sea” from the original 1989 iteration of The Little Mermaid.

Snub: Jack Black

Black co-wrote “Peaches” for The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which was the year’s second-biggest hit at the box office, behind only the world-dominating Barbie. In addition to co-writing and performing the song, Black was in the animated film’s voice cast as Bowser. This would have been the first Oscar nomination for Black, who won a Grammy for best metal performance nine years ago for a track he recorded with Tenacious D for a Ronnie James Dio tribute album. Black co-wrote “Peaches” with Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic, Eric Osmond and John Spiker.

Surprises: The Color Purple, Flora and Son

Everybody expected these films to generate a best original song contender. But few expected them both to generate two best original song contenders, just one shy of Barbie. The two songs from The Color Purple that are shortlisted are widely expected “Keep It Movin’” and the more surprising “Superpower (I).” The two songs from Flora and Son that made the list are the widely expected “High Life” and the more surprising “Meet in the Middle.”

Snub: Justin Timberlake

Timberlake was nominated for best original song seven years ago for co-writing “Can’t Fight the Feeling!” from the first Trolls, but he wasn’t as lucky with “Better Place” from Trolls Band Together, which he co-wrote with Karl Schuster (Shellback) and Amy Allen. The *NSYNC single reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100, whereas Timberlake’s earlier hit debuted at No. 1. Animated characters perform “Better Place” onscreen in the movie. Timberlake and the other members of *NSYNC are in the voice cast, along with Anna Kendrick, Kid Cudi, Troye Sivan, Camila Cabello and Anderson .Paak, among others.

Snub: Little Richard

Little Richard: I Am Everything was passed over for a nod for best documentary feature. Paul McCartney, Billy Porter and John Waters appear in this doc about the rock ‘n’ roll icon who had a profound impact on music and culture. He was a flamboyant gender-bender in the 1950s, when “Don’t Say Gay” wasn’t just a political slogan, it was an unwritten rule. Little Richard was one of the inaugural inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in 1993. He died in 2020 at age 87.

Surprise: Wes Anderson

No one should be surprised when Wes Anderson does well at the Oscars. He has received seven nominations in four categories – best picture, best directing, best animated feature film (twice) and best original screenplay (three times). Now, he has a chance to land a nomination in a fifth category as “Dear Alien (Who Art in Heaven)” from Asteroid City made the best original song shortlist. Anderson co-wrote the song with Richard Hawley and Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker.

Snub: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

The two-time Oscar winners were passed over for their score for The Killer. This would have been the fourth nod in this category for Reznor and Ross following The Social Network, Mank and Soul (a collaboration with Jon Batiste). David Fincher, who directed The Social Network and Mank, also directed The Killer.

Snub: Alexandre Desplat

The French composer, an Oscar perennial, was passed over for his score for Nyad. This would have been his 12th nomination in this category, all since 2006. That’s more than anyone else has accumulated in that period. Desplat has won twice, for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shape of Water. This would have been Desplat’s first nod in the 2020s, following three in the 2000s and eight in the 2010s.

Snub: Branford Marsalis

This would be the first Oscar nomination for the jazz saxophonist. That film has a shortlisted song (Lenny Kravitz’s “Road to Freedom”), but Marsalis’ score was not acknowledged. Marsalis is a three-time Grammy winner. He received a Primetime Emmy nod two years ago for outstanding music composition for a documentary series or special for Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre.

Surprise: Mark Orton

The composer was shortlisted for his score for the latest Alexander Payne film, The Holdovers. That means Orton got more votes this go-round than such past Oscar winners in this category as Alexandre Desplat (Nyad), Hanz Zimmer (The Creator) and Hildur Guðnadóttir (A Haunting in Venice).

Snubs: Julia Michaels and Linda Perry

Both of these songwriters have received two Grammy nods for song of the year, but they missed the shortlist with songs they wrote separately for films this year. Michaels missed out with “This Wish,” which she co-wrote with Benjamin Rice and JP Saxe for the Disney film, Wish. Perry was passed over for “Find a Way” from Nyad.

Michaels and Saxe received a Grammy nod for song of the year three years ago for their collaboration “If the World Was Ending.” Michaels’ first nod in that category was for co-writing her breakthrough hit, “Issues.” Ariana DeBose, an Oscar winner for the West Side Story remake, sings “This Wish.” She’s also in the voice cast, along with Chris Pine and Victor Garber.

Snub: Christopher Bear & Daniel Rossen

The musicians were expected to make the shortlist with their score for Celine Song’s feature directorial debut Past Lives. Bear and Rossen are members of veteran indie rock band Grizzly Bear, which has landed two top 10 albums on the Billboard 200.

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