In recent years, the Oscar for Best Original Song has been taken home by the likes of Lady Gaga, Elton John, and Telugu hitmakers M. M. Keeravani and Chandrabose. This year's nominated tracks boast both starry singers — including past Oscar winners Billie Eilish and Jon Batiste — and revolutionary new voices, ranging from members of Osage Nation to Ken himself, Ryan Gosling. While each of the songs is distinctly unique, they are each responsible for bringing an additional layer of joy, heartbreak, or Kenergy to their respective films.
The winner will be announced during the 96th Oscars on Sunday, March 10, but until then, scroll on to listen to and learn more about each of the year's Best Original Song nominees.
"It Never Went Away" from 'American Symphony'
Three years after Jon Batiste — along with his fellow Soul composers, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross — won the Oscar for Best Original Score, the songwriter has received his first Best Original Song nomination for "It Never Went Away," which he wrote with Dan Wilson. The piano ballad is the beating heart of American Symphony, an intimate documentary about Batiste and his wife, Suleika Jaouad, as she undergoes cancer treatment.
"Making music is an act of survival. There was a stretch of time during which my wife Suleika was in the hospital and we weren't sure she'd make it. This song began as a lullaby, so she could have a restful aura in the hospital room," Batiste said in a statement. "Congratulations to my co-writer, Dan Wilson, and thank you to Netflix, Mercury Studios, Higher Ground, and our brilliant director, Matthew Heineman, for sharing our story with the world. We are grateful to be surrounded by love."
"I'm Just Ken" from 'Barbie'
Barbie has two contenders in the Best Original Song race this year, the first of which is this humorous power ballad performed by Ryan Gosling's Ken during an emotional, energetic dream ballet. "I'm Just Ken" features music and lyrics by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, who previously won Best Original Song in 2019 — along with Lady Gaga and Anthony Rossomando — for "Shallow" from A Star is Born.
"We're excited and grateful beyond words. This really is the highest honour to be recognized by our peers and heroes from the Academy. And in a year of so many extraordinary songs — including those from our incredible fellow Barbie contributors," Ronson and Wyatt said in a statement. "It's a testament to Greta Gerwig's power to inspire and bring out the very best in everyone around her. Thank you so much.”
"What Was I Made For?" from 'Barbie'
Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell, who won the Oscar in 2022 with their James Bond title track "No Time to Die," received their second nomination for "What Was I Made For?," which the brother-sister duo wrote together and which Eilish performs. A tender ballad that underscores the emotional epiphany of Margot Robbie's Barbie, the hit song extended Barbie's box office dominance to TikTok and the Billboard charts.
"We are so incredibly honored to receive a nomination for 'What Was I Made For?' As lifelong fans of film, music in film and the Academy Awards, this means everything to us," Eilish and Finneas said in a statement. "We are so grateful to the Academy, its members, and to be recognized alongside so many songwriters that we respect and admire."
"The Fire Inside" from 'Flamin' Hot'
Written by Honorary Oscar recipient Diane Warren and performed by Becky G, "The Fire Inside" is an upbeat pop anthem that captures the spirit of Flamin' Hot's underdog story. "The Fire Inside" is Warren's 15th song to be nominated at the Oscars, and this is the seventh year in a row that the prolific songwriter has been recognized in the Best Original Song category. (Last year, she was nominated for the track "Applause," from Tell It Like a Woman.)
"I'm so excited about being nominated for 'The Fire Inside'!!" Warren said in a statement. "This song is all about passion. It's the theme song not only for the movie Flamin' Hot but a theme song for dreamers everywhere with that 'Fire Inside' to make their dreams come true."
"Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)" from 'Killers of the Flower Moon'
Featuring music and lyrics by composer and Killers of the Flower Moon's Osage music consultant Scott George, "Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)" is a rousing ceremonial chant performed by the Osage Tribal Singers. Featured at the very end of Martin Scorsese's Western crime drama, the song celebrates the power and resiliency of the Osage Nation. "Wahzhazhe" was produced by the late Robbie Robertson, who is posthumously nominated for his Killers of the Flower Moon original score.