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Having the nation’s No. 1 song does not exempt an artist from Oscar rehearsals.
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Pharrell Williams — who arrived wearing a polka-dot jacket, patterned scarf and his trademark hat — ran through his catchy hit “Happy” more than half a dozen times Friday in preparation for the Oscar telecast. He even shared the spotlight with a spate of stars: Jamie Foxx, Brad Pitt and Kate Hudson showed up to rehearse while he was on stage.
“All I care about is the fun,” Williams said to Hudson, who boogied in the audience as he practiced his dance-heavy number, pausing to shake hands with show producer Craig Zadan and saying, “Thanks for having me.” A choir of high school students and 20 professional dancers accompany his colorful performance.
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Foxx arrived in the middle of Williams’ rehearsal. He quickly joined the dancers on stage, much to their amusement, pretending to stretch alongside them and offering unneeded dramatic direction. “Walk, walk, curiosity! And retreat,” he said to a chorus of laughter.
Also rehearsing Friday: Broadway star Idina Menzel, who’s set to sing “Let It Go” from animated film nominee Frozen; U2, which is nominated for its song from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, “Ordinary Love”; and rocker Karen O, who is nominated for “The Moon Song” from best picture nominee Her.
Menzel was awed by the technology that allowed the Oscar orchestra, playing off-site at the Capitol Records building, to coordinate with her live at the Dolby Theatre.
“Hi, Bill, can you hear me?” she said into the microphone, speaking to conductor William Ross, whom she could see on a monitor from inside the theater. “I’m trying to get that telepathic vibe with you because I’m alone up here and this is my first time [on the Oscars].… You look very handsome.”
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Karen O, front woman of the rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, took notes from director Spike Jonze as she rehearsed her performance. “Spike just asked me to hold the mic a little bit lower, so I need a little more level,” she told a sound engineer. Jonze sat in a front-row seat in the audience. Accompanied by Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig on acoustic guitar, O sang the song again and again, sitting on a corner of the stage in a long floral dress, leather motorcycle jacket and killer blue boots.
U2 also wasn’t above rehearsals, running through their nominated song “Ordinary Love” late into the night.
This article first appeared on Billboard.com.
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