Pop artists who won Best Song at the Oscars

As Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gaga square up in the Best Song category, we remember previous pop winners.

No Hollywood blockbuster is complete without a memorable soundtrack and for the last 85 years, the Oscars have been honouring that relationship with the award for Best Song.

Among the nominees this year are chart stars Kendrick Lamar and SZA with All the Stars from Black Panther, and Lady Gaga's chart-topping A Star is Born duet with Bradley Cooper, Shallow.

Big names in pop have done increasingly well at the Oscars over the last couple of decades. We look at a selection of songs that were, honestly, truly, just so thrilled to be nominated and would like to thank the fans, the Academy, and that one person out of 100 who believed in them.


Bond themes have been big news at the Oscars this decade: Adele's Skyfall took home the Academy Award in 2013, with a very memorable speech from the lady herself, and the first ever Bond theme to go to Number 1 also won an Oscar – Sam Smith's The Writing's on the Wall, from the 24th Bond film Spectre, in 2016.

In 2014, two huge hits children's movies faced off. Pharrell's record breaking and million-selling chart-topper Happy, from Despicable Me 2, lost out to Frozen's Let it Go, which was a hit for Idina Menzel – the best selling song of 2014 not to make the Top 10.

John Legend and Common teamed up for 2015 winner Glory, from Selma, beating Adam Levine's Lost Stars, and in 2016 The Weeknd's Top 5 hit Earned it, from Fifty Shades of Grey, and Lady Gaga's Til It Happens to You, from documentary The Hunting Ground, lost out to Sam Smith. Justin Timberlake's Number 2 hit Can't Stop the Feeling got a nomination for Trolls in 2017, and The Greatest Showman's This Is Me just missed out last year – it was the biggest selling download of 2018 in the UK.

The writing was on the wall and the names were on the Oscar for Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith. Image: David Fisher/Shutterstock


Eminem caused a stir when he beat some huge tunes to be the first rap song to win an Oscar for Lose Yourself in 2003, from his movie 8 Mile, loosely based on his own life, and his fourth Number 1 single at the end of 2002. Beyoncé's hit Listen got a nod in 2007 for its part in hit musical Dreamgirls (one of three nominations for the movie in this category) but lost out to Melissa Etheridge – the song would go Top 10 over a year later when performed on The X Factor with Alexandra Burke. 2009's winner was AR Rahman's Jai Ho, from Slumdog Millionaire, a version of which would feature Pussycat Dolls and be their final UK Top 10.

Beyoncé and her Dreamgirls costars wait backstage to see which of their three songs would win. (Answer: none. Tsk!) Image: Chris Carlson/AP/Shutterstock


The Nineties was perhaps the first decade that noticeably more big names got involved with Oscar-winning songs. Madonna started us off in 1991 with non-single Sooner or Later, from Dick Tracy, in which she also starred, before her Top 10 hit You Must Love Me, from Evita, won for composers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, in 1997. Bruce Springsteen scored his highest UK chart peak of Number 2 with his 1994 winner Streets of Philadelphia, and Elton John followed the year after with his Lion King theme Can You Feel the Love Tonight – which will be performed by Beyoncé and Donald Glover in the forthcoming remake.

Celine Dion's million-selling My Heart Will Go On won for Titanic in 1998, and the Nineties closed off with two divas and one huge song: Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey's When You Believe, from The Prince of Egypt – a Number 4 hit, it would eventually top the chart thanks to X Factor winner Leon Jackson in 2007.

They *did* love her. Madonna sings 1997's winner. Image: Susan Sterner/AP/Shutterstock


The pop world really jumped out during the '80s, kicking off with Irene Cara's Number 1 Fame in 1981, beating Dolly Parton's 9 To 5 – another song she performed, Flashdance…What A Feeling would triumph in 1984. Stevie Wonder's I Just Called to Say I Love You – the 13th biggest selling song in the UK – won in 1985, and another Motown legend Lionel Richie took Oscar home the following year with Say You Say Me. Top Gun's iconic theme and huge Number 1 Take My Breath Away won in '87. Singer Jennifer Warnes performed on two Oscar winners that decade: 1983 Top 10 hit Up Where We Belong, and the unforgettable theme from Dirty Dancing, (I've Had) The Time of my Live (gotta love those brackets) in 1988. 

Hello, is it me you're looking for? Lionel with his new best mate in 1986. Image: Globe Photos/Shutterstock


Barbra Streisand made an appearance on two Oscar-winning songs, The Way We Were in 1974 and, spookily, Evergreen, the theme song to her version of A Star is Born in 1977. Isaac Hayes' funk staple Theme From Shaft won in 1972, and Michael Jackson's Number 1 Ben earned a nod in 1973 but failed to convert it into a win. In 1979, the previous year's hugest musical Grease was expected to tale the Oscar with Hopelessly Devoted to You – a Number 2 hot for Olivia Newton-John – but the force of disco was too strong, and Donna Summer's Last Dance, from Thank God It's Friday, triumphed instead.

Main image: Katie Jones/Penske Media/Shutterstock