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The 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony was packed full of surprises. There were Parasite‘s historic wins and some political acceptance speeches, but many of the most unexpected moments of the night were the musical performances.
Janelle Monae opened the show with a Mr. Rogers-themed tribute, at one point leaving her bowler hat on the head of best supporting actor nominee Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) before continuing her number with Emmy-winning Pose actor, and performer in his own right, Billy Porter. She ended the performance with what might have been a jab at the lack of diverse nominees, saying, “Happy Black History Month.”
Piano men Elton John and Randy Newman each took the stage to perform their Oscar-nominated original songs, with John ultimately taking home the golden statuette. Chrissy Metz gave a soulful performance of the tune “I’m Standing With You,” a song written by 11-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren.
A fresh surprise of the evening was Pitch Perfect star Utkarsh Ambudkar recapping the first half of the show in a freestyle rap performance backed up by a beat from Questlove, which drew an overwhelmingly positive audience reaction.
Cynthia Erivo received a standing ovation for her performance of “Stand Up” from Harriet. She was nominated not only for her original song, but for best actress (but lost out to Reneé Zellweger’s performance in Judy).
Billie Eilish’s slow, simple rendition of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” underscored the In Memorium section of the ceremony, and struck a darker balance with Maestra Eimear Noone’s conducting of the orchestra in a medley of the best original scores.
But the biggest moment of the night may have been rapper Eminem’s surprise performance of “Lose Yourself” from the 2002 film 8 Mile, the tune that won the best original song Oscar at the 75th annual Academy Awards in 2003. Though audience reaction was mixed (some were seen singing along, while others were seeing expressing confusion), the unexpected appearance no doubt kept everyone watching the ceremony on their toes.
Vote for your favorite performance of the evening here and below.
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