Look, we know the Oscars aren't about music. They're about tuxedos and thanking the Academy and montages of deceased Marketing executives. But occasionally, the Academy Awards manage to sneak in a few moments that make us, a music publication, look up from Twitter for a moment and follow the actual broadcast. We did our own Shadow Oscars to recognize the actual best in music and film, but to avoid living in that hypothetical dream world forever, we also have some thoughts on the Neil Patrick Harris-hosted gala from last night. Here are three interesting moments from the show.
"Everything Is Awesome" was, yes, sufficiently awesome
Tegan and Sara, The Lonely Island, Lego ghosts, cowboys, breakdancing construction workers, co-producer Mark Mothersbaugh avec Devo Energy Dome, Will Arnett as the darkest guitar-wielding Dark Knight and world famous drummer Questlove as his Robin — this was precisely the kind of confetti canon the stuffy award show needed to keep our attention deficient heads on the podium for another, like, five hours. Sure, "Everything Is Awesome" got snubbed, but wasn't it just the sweetest, most perfect-looking cupcake in an evening full of oatmeal and vegetables and other things that are good for you? - Chris Hampton
Common and John Legend's urgent acceptance speech
When Lonnie Lynn and John Stephens, the names on Common and John Legend's drivers licenses, performed "Glory" from Selma, they were awarded the evening's largest Standing-brand ovation, but more powerful — and pointed — were the words they later used to accept the award for Best Original Song.
“We say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now,” Legend said. “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now, the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”
In an evening not starved for good podium callouts re: equality (Patricia Arquette and The Imitation Game screenwriter Graham Moore), Legend and Common made matters especially urgent. - Chris Hampton
Lady Gaga plays it straight, but is that really what we want?
Since Lady Gaga's 2013 album Artpop bombed, she seems to have shifted her demographic to a slightly different target... oh, say 40 years or so. Where a Gaga awards show appearance used to mean meat dresses, vegetable shoes, carriages pulled by Jeff Koons balloon dogs, now it means duetting with Tony Bennett or, at last night's Oscars, singing a medley of Julie Andrew showtunes.
A lot of people seemed thrilled by her acutely normal performance, like once she pulled off her attention-distracting formal oven mitts people suddenly realized she could sing. (Nevermind that she took her stage name from a group with the ultimate belter, Freddie Mercury). But "normal" is just another word for "boring." And sure it was nice and all, but is nice really what we want from Lady Gaga? When people (mostly misogynists) complain that Madonna isn't "ageing gracefully," is this really what they're after? "My Favourite Things"? - Richard Trapunski