Academy Overhauls Controversial Best Song Process

The old system that had resulted in years of only two or three nominated songs is junked in favor of more straightforward approach that will yield five nominees

The Music Branch of the Academy has rescued the Best Original Song category from the controversial system that almost killed it, implementing a new process that will no longer result in years of only two or three nominees.

The music changes were the most dramatic of the changes announced on Thursday by the Academy, which also included renaming the Art Direction award the Production Design award.

"I'm glad," said Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren, who had been what she admitted was "a loud proponent of the change" for some time.

"The old system made no sense, but the new one lets songs be chosen on their merit."

Rules are reviewed annually by each branch's awards committee, with the rules for the song Oscar resulting in plenty of controversy over the past few years.

Also read: Bowing to Angry Best-Song Fallout, Academy Promises 'Hard Look' at Process

Under the previous system, voters from the branch viewed clips of each of the nominated songs, which generally numbered between 35 and 60. They then scored each song on a scale of 6-to-10. Only songs receiving an average score of 8.25 were eligible to be nominated – except if only one song reached that level, in which case it and the song with the next-highest score were nominated.

Over the past four years, the category yielded a full slate of five nominees only once, with songs from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Warren being bypassed.

Earlier this year, only two songs – "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" and "Real in Rio" from "Rio" – were nominated.

After those nominations were announced, Academy governor Bruce Broughton promised TheWrap that the branch would "take a hard look at the point system."

In place of the now-eliminated point system, voters will view all the nominated songs on a DVD, and then vote for their five (or fewer) favorites in order of preference. The five songs receiving the highest number of votes will be nominees.

"The last thing we want to do is exclude worthy songs," said Broughton earlier this year. "But we don't want to lower the bar, either.

"This year, we got two songs. They're good songs. We're hopeful that we can get good songs in the future, and get more of them."