Steve Recommends: “Tonya Harding” by Sufjan Stevens

I’ll just get this out of the way, right off the bat. I’m glad Sufjan Stevens “Mystery of Love” didn’t win the Academy Award for best original song.

Not that I thought any of the other nominees deserved it, but, even as a huge Sufjan fan, I found his nominated song quite distracting while watching the otherwise lovely film Call Me By Your Name. The film is set in the 1980s and the new wave hits that fill the soundtrack fit the mood just right, along with the more timeless classical and piano score. But “Mystery of Love” with its mandolin-heavy, breathy preciousness, felt out-of-place tonally. It seemed too on-the-nose, spelling out the theme of the film in an obvious, unsubtle manner.

I did feel Sufjan Stevens should have won the Oscar for best original song, though.

If the Academy had chosen the far better, more lush, less twee song that he’d written for another film nominee, I Tonya, I would have been thrilled.

Most folks don’t realize that Sufjan wrote the theme song, “Tonya Harding,” because the song isn’t on the soundtrack. I, Tonya’s filmmakers had turned Stevens down when he presented the song to them. It’s really too bad, because there could have been a Sufjan vs. Sufjan showdown at the Oscars.

Watch the video below and try and tell me this song wouldn’t have given the film an added emotional depth.

(Song recommendation by Steve Goldberg)

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