Randy Newman won’t perform at the Academy Awards Sunday night, but at this point a Randy Newman omission is as notable as a Randy Newman nomination. Over the last thirty years, Newman has been nominated for twenty Academy Awards, meaning that the only Oscar darlings that have garnered more nods than him include names like John Williams, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the nation of France. At the same time, the only record that Newman may rightfully be able to claim is the most successive nominations without a win: He was nominated for 14 awards before his first win in 2001. Overall, he’s only won two.
But Newman’s perennial status as bridesmaid rather than bride feels somehow appropriate. Newman may drop satirical bombs away from the Oscar spotlight, but in Hollywood he is a steady, comforting presence, almost part of the backdrop. His orchestral scores are old-timey, drawing on the sounds of folksy Americana, and you probably know his Disney songs. At the very least, you know the sound of his Disney songs: The most common swipe at Newman is that they all come out the same. Nearly every year, it seems, Newman takes the stage, plops down behind his piano, and croons, bouncing out some jazzy chords, and singing of friendships between toys and big-eyed animals and cars. He chomps off the final consonant of every word, and fills out the mix with shuffling, brushed drums.
So yes, his songs have their similarities. But is it fair to suggest that all of Randy Newman’s Oscar-nominated tunes really sound the same? To investigate, we assembled the supercut below. You’ll have to listen yourself to find out—Newman’s got a friend in us.