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Here’s the best of the original song contenders in a curated Spotify playlist

Portraits of Taylor Swift, Billy Eichner, Giveon and Adrienne Warren.
Taylor Swift, from left, Billy Eichner, Giveon and Adrienne Warren are among the many performers of original songs in films this season who deserve a listen.
(Beth Garrabrant; Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times; Adrian Martin; Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
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Once again, The Envelope has curated a playlist of some of the most dynamic, haunting and catchy original songs from this year’s films. Some among these make convincing cases for Oscar nominations, and others are just too good to ignore. You can access the playlist and hear them in sequence on Spotify by going to https://tinyurl.com/2023-movie-song-playlist (some songs were not available to stream at press time). Enjoy!

1. Good Tonight” (written by Daniel Pemberton, Gary Go; performed by Anthony Ramos) from “The Bad Guys” — An R&B rave-up that’s a good playlist-starter. It’s elevated by some crack playing and a growling vocal by Philip Schuyler Hamilton(!), er, Anthony Ramos of “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.”

2. I Ain’t Worried (Ryan Tedder, Brent Kutzle, Tyler Spry; performed by OneRepublic) from “Top Gun: Maverick” — The Lady Gaga song will get the ink, but this catchy ditty with significant strands of DNA from both “Young Folks” and “Pumped Up Kicks” goes well with shirtless, beach faux-football.

3. Love Is Not Love(Marc Shaiman, Billy Eichner; performed by Billy Eichner) from “Bros” — It’s a big country ballad, a paean to the uniqueness of gay love, at least in the film’s featured relationship. Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner Shaiman is a seven-time Oscar nominee.

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4. Lagrimas Sin Fin (Cheche Alara, El David Aguilar, Pinar Toprak; performed by Cecilia Noël) from “The Lost City” — A simple song of longing, perhaps unexpectedly tender considering the big-ticket adventure film in which it appears.

5. “Segundo” (Maluma, Edgar Barrera, Barco, Tommy Brown, Steven Franks; performed by Maluma) from “Marry Me” — For my money, the best entry from a “Marry Me” song score dotted with potential hits is this Spanish-language crooner.

6. “The Coolest Cat” (Alan Zachary, Michael Weiner; performed by Adrienne Warren, Wendi Bergamini & Raya Yarbrough) from “Paws of Fury” — Novelty songs often get awards nods, and this is probably the best this year. Tony winner Warren so nails the cool ‘70s soul sound, it’s like she was born to it. What a singer.

7. “Turn Up the Sunshine” (Jack Antonoff, Patrik Berger, Sam Dew, Kevin Parker; performed by Diana Ross, featuring Tame Impala) from “Minions: The Rise of Gru” — Could slip into the “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” pop slot; has a big chorus, and it is Diana Ross.

8. “Quietly Yours” (Jasmine Van Den Bogaerde; performed by Birdy) from “Persuasion” — Lovely atmospheric ballad from the Netflix adaptation of the Jane Austen novel.

9. “This Is a Life” (Ryan Lott, Mitski, David Byrne; performed by Son Lux, Mitski, David Byrne) from “Everything Everywhere All at Once” — The perfect marriage of not only musical collaborators, but the fantastical and emotional elements of the film.

10. “Time” (Aubrey Drake Graham, Giveon Evans, Jahaan Akil Sweet, Daniel Pemberton; performed by Giveon) from “Amsterdam” — Built on one of Pemberton’s themes for the score, the song’s simple lyrics are a meditation on the resonance of deep friendship. Its blend of classical foundation and modern soulfulness makes it a top contender.

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11. “Do a Little Good” (Benj Pasek, Justin Paul; performed by Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, cast) from “Spirited” — It’s not the peak of “The Greatest Showman” aces Pasek and Paul‘s craft, and Reynolds and Ferrell might have injured themselves reaching for some of those notes. However, it’s appealing, and the most show-tuney contender this year, which might buy it a listen from the academy.

12. “On My Way(Michael Pollack, Ivy Adara, Leroy Clampitt; performed by Jennifer Lopez) from “Marry Me” — The most likely nominee from the “Marry Me” song score treads ground perhaps more artfully explored in “To Find You” from “Sing Street” but does it tunefully.

13. Not Alone (Joe Jonas, Ryan Tedder, Bernard Harvey, Khalid; performed by Joe Jonas and Khalid) from “Devotion” — Jonas flies into uncharted territory (for him) carrying this message of love from the cockpit of America’s first Black naval aviator.

14. “Ciao Papa” (Alexandre Desplat, Roeban Katz, Guillermo del Toro; performed by Gregory Mann) from “Pinocchio” — Del Toro co-wrote this delicate, lovely ballad, sung beautifully as an Italian folk song by young Mann.

Mitski, David Byrne, Son Lux, Joe Jonas, Khalid and a Bollywood vet are among those behind Oscar-contending songs from “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Devotion” and “RRR.”

Nov. 17, 2022

15. “Naatu Naatu” (M.M. Keeravani, Chandrabose; performed by Rahul Sipligunj, Kaala Bhairava) from “RRR” — The song and scene are irresistible; there’s also precedent for the academy honoring a Bollywood-style number, i.e. A.R. Rahman’s “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire.”

16. “Tupelo Shuffle” (Khalif Brown, Thomas Pentz, Maxime Picard, Clement Picard, Arthur Crudup; performed by Swae Lee and Diplo) from “Elvis” — The catchiest of the soundtrack’s Presley-adjacent original songs, though it perhaps borrows too much from Crudup’s “That’s All Right Mama” to be considered a fully original song. Also features guitar hero Gary Clark and star Austin Butler in full Elvis mode.

17. “Carolina” (written and performed by Taylor Swift) from “Where the Crawdads Sing” — Likely to be lost in the massive splash of her megahit “Midnights” album, but it’s effective, haunting Americana.

18. “Paper Airplanes” (Ruth B., Terence Blanchard; performed by Ruth B.) from “A Jazzman’s Blues” — Simply the prettiest movie song this year. Gorgeous, with a silky, wistful vocal from singer-songwriter Ruth B.

19. “N’Na Duniyaa” (written and performed by Sona Jobarteh) from “Beast” — I know the title means “Our Country,” but don’t know anything else about the song. It just sounds good.

20. new body rhumba (James Murphy, Pat Mahoney, Nancy Whang; performed by LCD Soundsystem) from “White Noise” — LCD’s thumping first release in five years is 2022’s best rock song from a movie.

21. “Ready as I’ll Never Be” (Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker; performed by Tanya Tucker) from “The Return of Tanya Tucker” — Carlile fashions Tucker’s casual wisdom into an elegiac reminiscence.

22.My Mind and Me (Selena Gomez, Amy Allen, Jonathan Bellion, Michael Pollack, Stefan Johnson, Jordan K. Johnson; performed by Selena Gomez) from “My Mind and Me” — Lovely, fragile, brave, honest, touching, even manic — all apply to the title song of the documentary chronicling Gomez’ struggles with mental health. The film version includes a gorgeous instrumental coda.

The honorable mention list is long and includes songs from blockbusters such as Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick” and Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”; Jazmine Sullivan’s gospel-tinged “Stand Up” from “Till”; and Sofia Carson’s “Applause” from “Tell It Like a Woman,” which is written by million-time nominee Diane Warren.

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