Eminem’s surprise performance of “Lose Yourself” was one of the undeniable highlights of Sunday night’s Oscars — and the most puzzling. Why perform his Oscar-winning song 17 years after the fact? He won Best Original Song for the 8 Mile cut in 2003 but did not attend the ceremony.
In an interview with Variety, the rapper said that he was told that the Oscars had planned a tribute to past Best Original Song winners, with 8 Mile as part of a montage introduced by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The producers reached out to Eminem to perform; the timing was good, given that Eminem has just released his eleventh album, Music to Be Murdered By.
“I kinda figured maybe since I didn’t get a chance to do it [in 2003], maybe it would be cool,” Eminem told Variety. “Back then, I never even thought that I had a chance to win, and we had just performed ‘Lose Yourself’ on the Grammys with the Roots a couple of weeks before the Oscars, so we didn’t think it was a good idea. And also, back at that time, the younger me didn’t really feel like a show like that would understand me.”
The event was such a secret that the Dolby was locked down as Eminem rehearsed, and the rapper could have bailed on the appearance if news of it had leaked.
Eminem noted that he wasn’t even awake when he won the Oscar for “Lose Yourself.” “I think I was just at home with my daughter — and I didn’t watch it, either,” he said. “At that point in time Hailie had to be at school early in the morning, so [I was sleeping].”
Did he enjoy his belated Oscar spotlight? “Absolutely,” he said. “I got to hug Salma Hayek!”
— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) February 10, 2020