Emmys 2014: Music Times Judges The Nominees for Original Music and Lyrics; Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris and More
Most of this weekend's music media attention went toward the Video Music Awards but Monday night's Emmys feature a few musical categories of their own.
Well, technically not Monday night's version of events. Television is a format that features a heck of a lot of awards to give out, so all of the music prizes have already been announced, and this ain't the Tony's so don't expect any big musical numbers tonight. We at Music Times still feel like the nominees deserve some consideration so we're checking out all of the contenders for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics and checking our results against what the Emmys opted for.
01) "Bigger!" by Tom Kitt (music) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lyrics)
It's tough to compete with the Tony's when it comes to original television songs. We mean, half of the awards given out deal with musicals. It's important to consider the song without the visuals, which might handicap this production...but not really. Host Neil Patrick Harris name checks nearly every nominee at this year's ceremony during his seven-minute bit, not to mention gets a bunch of them to sing along with him. For all of the musical talent involved in the making of this track, the cherry on top has to be Mike Tyson's guest appearance.
02) "No Trouble" by Bob Christianson (music) and Alisa Hauser (lyrics)
This comes from a musical production a little less overwhelming than The Tonys, and this track is much more toned down than many musical numbers. "No Trouble" is the ballad Bob Cratchit (Scott Coulter) sings in remembrance of his son Tiny Tim. For all of the tear-jerking that comes along with a father remembering his son's life, the themes here are major key and meant to be a happy tribute to the boy (who everyone knows was Bob's favorite). Didn't stop us from tearing up however.
03) "Les Mis" by Joshua Funk (music) and Rebecca Dryson (lyrics)
Finally, the comedy you were all waiting for. Key & Peele was one of several sketch shows nominated this year, for a fairly impressive satire of Les Miserables and musicals in general. As Jean Valjean and other groups of characters (Jordan Peele) sing their own mini-narratives as part of one overarching number, Inspector Javert (Keegan-Michael Key) gets continually frustrated that he doesn't get to sing his own lines. It's a clever jest at a real facet of musical theatre and the vocal abilities of both actors are noteworthy (assuming it was truly them singing).
04) "Home For The Holiday (Twin Bed)" by Eli Brueggemann (music) and Chris Kelly, Sarah Schneider, Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon (lyrics)
Saturday Night Live is almost guaranteed a spot among the nominees thanks to the litany of comedic tracks it puts out on a yearly basis. This year's focus was "Twin Bed," a song about sex at your girlfriend's family home come holiday time. Funny enough and straight-up pop, the downside is actually Jimmy Fallon's appearance as a guest rapper for the final verse. Kind of makes us wish that one of the many musical spoofs from Fallon's own The Tonight Show has been nominated instead, such as his Bruce Springsteen-collaboration, updating "Born to Run" to reference the current "Bridgegate" scandal.
05) "Merroway Cove" by John William Kavannaugh (music) and Craig Gerber (lyrics)
Many children's television programs feature stellar musical bits and Disney Channel's Sofia The First is no exception. Although lacking on inside jokes to make parents chuckle, the big band backing the singing seahorse gets makes for an enjoyable jam. Seems like a somewhat watered-down (pun intended) replacement for "Under The Sea" from The Little Mermaid however, considering that this episode does focus on a mermaid named Ariel.
06) "Day Is Gone" by Bob Thiele, Noah Gunderson and Kurt Sutter (music and lyrics)
Sons of Anarchy gets the nod this year for an original song that manages to not be a music number while not consisting of satire. Performed by Gunderson & The Forest Rangers, the acoustic ballad goes light where the rest of the nominees go heavy, natural considering the bluesy mood of the track. We'd hesitate to label the minimal hollow-body guitar playing toward the end as a "solo," but had the performer gone any faster it would've muddled the emotions behind the track.
WHO WON? "Bigger!"
WHO SHOULD HAVE WON? "Bigger!" Again, it's tough to argue against a Tony Awards number because of all the experience and talent that go into staging one. If we had to rule the obvious winner out however, we'll give "Les Mis" a nod for taking a humorous angle to the film's huge sound without watering it down.