What is it that makes the “Best Original Song” for a motion picture?
This year is a particularly fascinating year for Best Song.
There appears to be a clear front runner in La La Land, nominated for the maximum two songs – “Audition” and “City of Stars.” Being a “movie musical” (yes, in quotations) the songs function in a very clear and direct way, allowing their effectiveness and RTDW to be more objectively quantifiable. With two nominations, however, it runs the risk of cancelling itself out.
Furthermore, historically the academy has chosen songs by famous pop artists, which gives an edge to Justin Timberlake and Sting. Although THIS year, with the massive pop appeal of Hamilton, the prize could go to Lin-Manuel Miranda. So it’s really up in the air.
There is always going to be a large amount of subjectivity when evaluating a creative endeavor. Ideally, the law of averages works it out so that the opinions of an educated sample reflect the opinions of the educated majority.
Remember, though, that while the nominations are made by Academy members who are songwriters and composers, the winners are decided by the membership as a whole. (So beware Lin Manuel Miranda – the deciding vote may come down to a tone-deaf cinematographer.)
I’ve always thought that songs in motion pictures are a difficult thing to judge, and precisely because of that they are almost always a difficult award to predict. Add to that the bizarre and ever-changing rules which govern the nominations of songs, which results in years where only two songs (???) are even nominated.
I thought it might be interesting to go through the nominations and see how to evaluate them on the principles of the Academy. According to the voting rules of the Academy: Continue reading The Anatomy of a Best Song
This Saturday, September 26th @ 5pm, come to Venice, CA to see this hilarious short film I scored. It’s an official selection of the Broad Humor Film Festival – celebrating funny films by funny women.
The festival is held at the Electric Lodge Performing Arts Center at 1416 Electric Ave, Venice CA, 90291.
Get ticket and schedule information here.
I remember in college walking down the hallways of UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall and hearing the ethnomusicology majors practicing their bizarre semi-tones. These “notes in between the notes” left me fascinated and a little unsettled. I preferred my more easily digested 12-tone scales, based comfortably around middle-A being tuned to the frequency of 440hz.
But according to an interesting article in The Daily Beast, it turns out that’s a relatively recent standardization of Western music, and – according to musical conspiracy theories (yes, there really is such a thing) – was propagated by the Nazis in order to move people towards “greater aggression, psycho social agitation, and emotional distress predisposing people to physical illness.”
Whaaaaa!? Continue reading Does This Sound Out of Tune to You?
The Tony Awards always leave me inspired. I didn’t get to watch this years broadcast, but even just seeing the names of nominees and winners that are close to my heart fuels me to keep pushing ahead in this crazy business of show.
I’m especially inspired by the win of FUN HOME – a story we’ve never seen before on the musical stage – as it further widens the breadth of what stories a musical can tell. As it has for centuries, the theatre continues to have the power to give voice to all sorts of populations whose stories deserve to be told.
That’s why I’m so excited to premiere some brand new songs from JOE SHMOE SAVES THE WORLD as part of The Festival of New American Musical’s Musi-CAL series, celebrating new musicals written by SoCal writers.
The show is hosted by Rockwell Table & Stages in Los Feliz. It begins at 8pm and tickets start at only $15.
Come have a bite to eat and support new musical theatre performed by my incredible cast featuring Jonah Hill (American Idiot, Hair at the Hollywood Bowl), Alex Wyse (Masters of Sex, Broadway’s Lysistrata Jones), Ashley Argota (The Fosters), and Nicole Farnoush, as well as Kat Hennessey, Chris Meissner, Lyle Mackston, and Holly Howell.
Grab your tickets ahead of time – and I’ll see you there!
This June, the Festival of New American Musicals will feature songs from my show Joe Shmoe Saves the World at Rockwell, during it’s bi-monthly showcase of new American musicals in the works Musi-CAL.
Joe Shmoe Saves the World tells the story of two young women worlds apart – one an American indie rocker, the other an Iranian street artist – who attempt to change the world through their art, and end up changing each other instead. During the concert, I will share 5 songs, 3 of which will be world premieres.
I’m very proud of this show and this music, and I’m looking forward to playing it for you all. The concert is Monday June 8th at 8pm at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz. Tickets just went online – click here to get ’em fast.
If you’re looking for an excuse to see MURDER FOR TWO – there ain’t a better one than this.
Next Monday, April 7th, following our performance you’ll get to see work from 2 emerging musical theatre composers. Alexander Sage Oyen and ME! I will be presenting a condensed concert of my musical comedy THE TAVERN KEEPER’S DAUGHTER.
For the price of one ticket – you get 3 shows. Frankly, it’s criminal.
And a portion of all ticket sales goes to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Use code MRMUSMON20 to get $37 tickets (normally $87) and join Alexander and myself and a cast of massive Broadway talent (i.e. Lesli Margherita, Taylor Trensch, Todd Buonopane, Julia Mattison, Preston Sadleir, Leo Ash Evans, and so on) for a GREAT Monday night out.
I’m THRILLED to announce my first non-Murder for Two-related appearance in New York City!
On Saturday April 19th at 11pm, join me for a late-night party at 54 Below as I share SONGS i WROTE – an evening of highlights from my songbook.
Here’s what you’ll get to see:
Alex Brightman, Janet Krupin, George Salazar, and Mary Kate Morrissey.
This sexy foursome singing songs from my latest musical-in-progress JOE SCHMOE SAVES THE WORLD – including 4 Brand-new never-before-heard songs!
Melissa van der Schyff, Claybourne Elder, Lesli Margherita, Julia Mattison, and Justin Matthew Sargent.
This foxy fivesome rocking tunes from my musical THE TAVERN KEEPER’S DAUGHTER.
And a guest appearance by the guy from True Grit, Gilmore Girls, ROCKY Broadway, and pretty much every other TV show you’ve ever seen: Dakin Matthews.
Don’t be the dope who missed out – GRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE!
Next Monday, Tony Award-Winning Composer/Lyricist William Finn will host an evening of songs at 54 Below featuring the music of Brett Ryback.
The concert, titled Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists You Probably Don’t Know But Should will take place next Monday, December 16th, at 9:30pm at 54 Below.
Performers will include Elizabeth Stanley, Alysha Umphress, Taylor Trensch, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and many more.
Following the concert, there will be an open-mic, where I will feature some BRAND NEW, NEVER BEFORE HEARD MUSIC.
Come see us! Tickets are $30-40, with a $25 Food/Drink Minimum.
(If you subscribe to my mailing list before next Monday, I’ll send you a code to get $5 off the cover charge in the main dining room!)
Hey Los Angeles – Looking for something to do next week?
This Fall’s sold-out event A LITTLE NEW MUSIC returns to One of the Hottest Music-Theatre Joints in LA – Rockwell. Next Tuesday, December 10th @ 8pm. Click here for tickets.
Featuring work by Brett Ryback, alongside Joe Iconis (The Black Suits, NBC’s “Smash”), Gregory Nabours (The Trouble with Words), and many more!
Don’t miss it!