Oscars: Two Original Song Performances Nixed From Broadcast (EXCLUSIVE)

Oscars: Song Performances for 'Youth,' 'Racing
Courtesy of Rob Latour/REX Shutterstock/Fox Searchlight

'Manta Ray' from 'Racing Extinction' and 'Simple Song #3' from 'Youth' will not be performed on the show.

The Oscar-nominated songs “Manta Ray,” from the documentary “Racing Extinction,” and “Simple Song #3,” from Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” will not be performed on the 88th Academy Awards, Variety has learned. The reason, according to a source: “time constraints.”

On Jan. 28, the Academy announced that Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and the Weeknd would perform their nominated tunes from “The Hunting Ground,” “Spectre” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” respectively, on the telecast. A special performance by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has also been announced.

Last week, the campaigns behind the two outlying original song nominees, performed by lesser-known acts, were informed they would not be part of the show.

“Manta Ray” features music by two-time Oscar-nominated composer J. Ralph, with lyrics by Antony Hegarty (a.k.a. Anohni), who also performs. “Simple Song #3” was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang and performed by South Korean soprano Sumi Jo, a Grammy winner. But those credentials weren’t enough to keep them on the program.

Songs have been pulled from the Oscars a few times in recent memory, including J. Ralph’s own “Before My Time” from the 2012 documentary “Chasing Ice” (songs from “Skyfall,” “Les Miserables” and “Ted” were performed). In 2010 and 2012, all nominees were yanked from the rundown, while Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was the only exclusion on the 2003 telecast, because the hip-hop artist did not attend. He ultimately won the Oscar.

The Weeknd’s “Earned It” was a Grammy winner for best R&B performance this year. It was also nominated, along with Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You,” for best song written for visual media. Both lost to last year’s best original song Oscar winner, “Glory,” from Ava DuVernay’s “Selma.”

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  1. Betty Campbell says:

    Perform ALL the songs–or none. Diversity would have been better served with Sumi Jo. Rather insulting !!

  2. Janice says:

    Wow – I guess the Academy truly is not interested in diversity this year. What a mistake.

  3. JHR says:

    Ballots are still out there, correct? To me, this issue seems “unfair” to Simple Song and Manta Ray when it comes to voting as it gives the impression (however fair that is or not) that these songs aren’t “up to snuff.” I mean, in the grand scheme of things do Oscar voters even think about something like that or is it just something us bloggers complain about? I’m not sure of the answer to that, but it does ring a bit unjust.

  4. The Oscars have so many self-inflicted wounds this year (#OscarsSoWhite2, Force Awakens’ (you know, the $918.7m domestic critical and boxoffice flop) criminal, spiteful snubbing in major categories, now this) I truly believe they can’t wait to get this cluster-f over with. All they had to do was to have 6 BP nominees; 3 from the mainstream SW: TFA, Mockingjay 2, Straight Outta Compton) and 3 from the arthouse (Ex Machina, Love and Mercy, Spotlight). That is instantaneously a better lineup than what we got.

  5. Bill B. says:

    Insulting, but that is getting to be the Oscar theme in recent times. Leaving out songs that are not hits. the lack of diversity though I do think only Elba was was really left out this year, supporting performances having to compete against leading ones. BTW, that Bond song is awful and what the hell does Grohl, who I like, have to do with either film or the Oscars?!

  6. BillUSA says:

    Oh, gee. What will we do without a couple of songs…?

  7. a viewer says:


  8. David K says:

    oh stop whining people, this is a business, and a cutthroat one, these artists know the score

  9. The Truth says:

    A “special performance by Dave Grohl” takes precedence over an Oscar nominated song? Give all the nominees their due.

  10. BMG says:

    If Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and the Weeknd had any humility, they’d pull out immediately in solidarity with their fellow artists.

  11. sameckmann says:

    So disappointing. “Sorry we know you were deemed worthy of a nomination, but you’re just not famous enough for us to care”. How insulting. If anything should be cut its that POS song Sam Smith “wrote” (if you can call a song with no melody, 5 notes, and bland lyrics writing) in 15 minutes.

  12. cadavra says:

    I was under the impression that “Lose Yourself” was dropped because the profanity in the lyrics was too extensive for broadcast television.

  13. Ann says:

    So disappointing to learn that 2 of the 5 original song nominations won’t be heard live.

  14. Henry Plantagenet says:

    So they tossed those two songs, but kept that piece of junk from Sam Smith?

  15. MSP says:

    Thanks for this info Kris! I was literally looking at the presenters/performers list an hour ago wondering if all five had been announced yet. I was convinced we would get all of the performances, if anything to avoid the negative publicity that could come with not giving stage time to a trans person and a WOC.

    And for what it’s worth, I hate this decision. Give us performances of all nominated songs, or none. I find this incredibly disrespectful to the nominees whose songs aren’t performed.

  16. Rob says:

    I was very much looking forward to hearing Sumi Jo perform Simple Song #3. Her voice and the arrangement are beautiful. The Academy has made a mistake in not having all best song candidates perform on the show. It is arbitrary and biased to let some performers sing, while denying the opportunity to others in the same category. Either all songs should be heard, or none at all.

  17. KC says:

    The songs from Skyfall, Les Mis and Ted were performed in 2013, the songs from Life of Pi and (as you said) Chasing Ice were not.

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