It was a good year for music fans watching the Oscars this year, with a R&B superproducer-crooner, an indie-rock match made in heaven and a venerable arena-rock band performing their nominated songs at the 86th Annual Academy Awards.
Brad Pitt introduced U2 to the stage to peform “Ordinary Love,” and the Irish quartet gave the song the exact emotional heft it needed. Singing on the lip of the stage, Bono, clad totally in black, yelled out the last verse as the Edge’s acoustic guitar lent an elegiac tone to this tribute to the late, great South African leader. The audience was on their feet applauding before the song had even finished.
Pharrell, clad in ruby slipper sneakers and his now-ubiquitous oversize hat, performed Despicable Me 2‘s “Happy” among dancers of all ages, including Jamie Foxx’s daughter Corinne. The performance, inspired by the 1950s fashion of Grease, found Pharrell leaving the stage to dance with front-row actresses Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Lupita Nyong’o.
Karen O, resplendent in a flowing, red dress, sang “The Moon Song” from Spike Jonze’s Her while sitting onstage. With an image of the moon shining in the background and pair of shoes placed onstage, a tuxedo-clad Ezra Koenig sat alongside the singer, providing gentle, sparse guitar accompaniment to the delicate track.
When it was announced that Pink would be performing at this year’s Oscars, no one was sure what exactly she’d be performing; the Oscar-nominated songs had already been spoken for. But when she stepped out on stage to sing “Over the Rainbow” while Judy Garland’s children paid homage to The Wizard of Oz, it felt like an inspired choice. The pop singer did not try to oversell the song, simply peforming it simply and beautifully in a way that never overshadowed the Oz pageantry behind her.
Lastly, Idina Menzel went up to sing “Let It Go” from the Disney film Frozen, and delivered exactly what you would expect: a Broadway-style showstopper that showed off the Wicked star’s impressive pipes. When she got to that last triumphant “Here I aaaaaaaam,” you could practically hear the rafters in the Dolby Theater shaking. The audience ate it up, and it was not surprising when the tune won the Best Song Award right after her rendition.