The 2020 Oscars may have gone without a host for its second consecutive year, but the Academy relied on a number of high-impact musical performances to bring some much needed energy to the awards ceremony.
As is tradition, all nominated best original songs were performed at the 2020 Oscars, including a performance from “Frozen II” that brought together singers from around the world that voiced the role of Elsa and a special performance by Elton John, who ultimately went home with the Academy Award.
The show also had a few of surprise performances, namely by rapper Eminem, who performed his Oscar-winning song “Lose Yourself” 18 years after he was absent from the Oscars to pick up the award.
From Janelle Monáe’s energetic opening number to Billie Eilish’s “In Memoriam” performance, here are six must-see 2020 Oscars performances.
1. Janelle Monáe’s Opening Number
Musician Janelle Monáe kicked off the 2020 Oscars with a performance that paid tribute to some of the year’s nominated films, including a nod to “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and bringing on-stage dancers dressed in costumes from films like “Joker,“ “Us,” “Queen and Slim” and “Little Women.” Monáe was also joined on-stage by Billy Porter.
Monáe used her performance to call out the Academy’s diversity issues, singing: “It’s time to come alive because the Oscars is so white.”
2. “Frozen II” Brings Together Ten Elsas From Around the World
The 2020 Oscars highlighted the international resonance of Disney’s “Frozen” film franchise, enlisting musician and actress Idina Menzel — who voices Elsa — to perform the Oscar-nominated song “Into the Unknown” alongside nine other women from around the world who have performed the song in their native languages, including performers from Japan, Poland, Thailand, Spain, Germany, Norway, Russia and Denmark, among others.
3. Elton John Returns to the Oscars Stage
Elton John took to the 2020 Oscars stage to perform his nominated song “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from his biopic, “Rocketman,” singing the song while playing a red piano against a backdrop of his iconic star-shaped glasses.
John went on to win the Oscar for best original song with his longtime collaborator, Bernie Taupin. The musician had previously won an Oscar in 1995 for his song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” from “The Lion King.”
4. Eminem Has a Surprise Performance
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda took to the 2020 Oscars stage to introduce a segment that celebrated the impact of music in film, highlighting a number of songs that have been nominated in years past. The montage ended with a clip from the 2002 film “8 Mile,” where rapper Eminem surprised the crowd by coming on-stage and performing his Oscar-winning song “Lose Yourself” from the film.
Although the performance came as a surprise to many, the rapper had skipped out on the awards ceremony 18 years ago when he was presented the award. Eminem took to Twitter to explain why he performed, stating: “Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity…Thanks for having me @TheAcademy. Sorry it took me 18 years to get here.”
5. Billie Eilish Covers the Beatles
Fresh off her big win at the 2020 Grammys, Billie Eilish was enlisted to perform on the Oscars stage during the telecast’s “In Memoriam” segment. Eilish sang a cover of The Beatles’ song “Yesterday,” as her brother and producer, Finneas O’Connell, played the piano.
6. Cynthia Erivo’s Powerful Tribute to Harriet Tubman
Double Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo performed a powerful tribute to Harriet Tubman with her nominated song, “Stand Up,” from “Harriet.” Erivo sang against a backdrop of a sunset, ending her performance with a black-and-white picture of Tubman projected on-stage.
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