There are always things to complain about with the Oscar nominations—especially for us curmudgeonly film critics. My vote for the year’s biggest travesty was in before the nominees were even announced, however: The best original song of 2022 was snubbed.
“Nobody Like U,” the pitch-perfect boy band earworm from Turning Red, failed to make the Academy’s submissions short list this year. Despite serving as one of the most stand-out moments of one of 2022’s most stand-out films, the 4*TOWN opus was deemed not up to Oscars caliber.
Yet “Nobody But U” comes with Oscar’s bonafides behind it, making this even more curious. Finneas O’Connell and Billie Eilish, who won the Best Original Song award in 2022, co-wrote each 4*TOWN song. Finneas also contributed vocals for one member of the fictional boy band, which Turning Red heroine Mei fawns over throughout the film.
The result of Pixar and the O’Connell siblings’ collab is a set of slinky, surprisingly complex pop songs worthy of the Billboard charts. “Nobody But U” is the obvious standout: Stellar production befitting of the Grammy winners’ usual fare mixes with clever lyrics, a killer bridge breakdown, and a melody that hasn’t left my head for nearly a year.
But 4*TOWN, though fictitious (but comprised of five perfectly combined vocalists) isn’t just the owner of an incredible song. The diverse fivesome, whose name is hilariously a miscount, has proven itself to be an incredible live act too. And with the Oscars ceremony always in need of some jovial pick-me-up that isn’t also cringe, to not give the boys a chance to perform IRL on this stage is criminal.
Just watch this performance of two 4*TOWN songs, from some of the original singers and a few pinch hitters. They appeared in December at the annual Unforgettable Gala, which honors the best in AAPI cinema.
Tell me that this wouldn’t have brought the house down at the Oscars; I dare you. Just look at Turning Red co-star Sandra Oh, rocking out upfront!
Happy as I am for “Naatu Naatu” and “This Is a Life,” two perfect songs in their own rights, I can’t shake the feeling that the ceremony could be even better if the 4*TOWN boys got to shake their boy band butts on stage too. So if we don’t at least get the stars of RRR performing the undeniable “Naatu Naatu” dance in full on March 12, I will officially riot.