×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscars: Most of the Best Song Nominees Won’t Perform on Telecast (EXCLUSIVE)

Only two of this year’s five Oscar-nominated songs may be performed live on the Academy Awards show Feb. 24, Variety has learned.

Multiple sources tell Variety that the two biggest chart hits — Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s “All the Stars” from “Black Panther” and Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” — are the two chosen by Academy execs and show producers for performance on the telecast.

The other three — “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns,” “I’ll Fight” from “RBG” and “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” — would likely be acknowledged only during the announcement of the song nominees. Rumors of their exclusion is already causing consternation among members of the music branch as well as among those nominees’ respective camps.

The Academy declined specific comment except to say that no decision on song performances has been made yet.

A source with knowledge of the Academy’s thinking says cutting songs is less a knock on the nominees than something long discussed as part of this year’s mandate to limit the show to three hours. The Academy has hinted that several Oscars (for so-called “craft” categories such as sound editing and sound mixing) will be presented during commercials, an already controversial move.

Both the “Black Panther” and “Star Is Born” soundtrack albums are on the Interscope label and, should this plan become reality, it could be perceived as favoritism toward one record company, although the two films are from different studios and the decision likely comes down to the songs’ massive popularity dwarfing the rest of the field.

The three numbers that look to be left in the lurch all bring name recognition that makes the move to exclude even a medley of performances somewhat surprising — most obviously in the case of Emily Blunt, who sang her “Poppins” song on-screen in a key moment, and Jennifer Hudson, a previous Oscar winner, who sang the theme for “RBG.” With the “Buster Scruggs” song, producers might have had the choice of going with the actors who sang it on screen, Tim Blake Nelson and Willie Watson, or its writers, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, who are amphitheater headliners in their own right who have performed the tune in their concerts.

As rumors about the move have spread, music-business observers, for the most part, have quietly condemned the move as unfair and misleading. Oscars for Best Song are awarded not on the basis of commercial success but rather based on their dramatic use within a cinematic context.

Performing all of the nominated songs is an Academy tradition and, when producers break from that practice, criticism is inevitable. All of the nominated songs have been performed in six of the past 10 Oscarcasts, including all of the last three.

But there is precedent for producers making a judgment call about how many to include. None of the nominated songs were performed in the 2010 and 2012 broadcasts, and just three of the five nominees were performed in 2013 and 2016. Last year, word circulated early on that Sufjan Stevens’ nominated song was slated to be cut from the telecast, although after considerable feedback, it was ultimately included as part of a medley.

RELATED VIDEO:

More Music

  • 50 Cent Power

    NYPD Officer Under Investigation for Allegedly Telling Police to Shoot 50 Cent 'on Sight'

    A New York City precinct commander is under investigation for allegedly telling officers to shoot rapper 50 Cent on sight, a police rep confirmed to Variety on Sunday. “The matter is under internal review,” an NYPD rep said, declining to answer further questions. Deputy Inspector Emanuel Gonzalez is accused of telling officers during a June 7 roll [...]

  • Phoebe Bridgers Slams Ryan Adams’ ‘Network’

    Phoebe Bridgers Slams Ryan Adams’ ‘Network’ of Enablers

    Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, one of multiple women who accused Ryan Adams of sexual misconduct last week in a New York Times article, issued a statement late Saturday slamming the “network” of people who enabled Adams’ behavior. “It’s been a weird week and I wanted to say a couple things,” she wrote on Instagram. “Thank you [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves, winner of the awards

    Kacey Musgraves to Present at the Oscars

    Hot off her album of the year award at last weekend’s Grammys, Kacey Musgraves has been tapped to present at the Oscars on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. She joins previously announced presenters Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Charlize Theron, Tessa Thompson, [...]

  • Olmo Teodoro Cuaron, Alfonso Cuaron and

    Alfonso Cuarón Tells Why His Scoreless 'Roma' Prompted an 'Inspired' Companion Album

    Back around the ‘90s, “music inspired by the film” albums got a bad name, as buyers tired of collections full of random recordings that clearly were inspired by nothing but the desire to use movie branding to launch a hit song. But Alfonso Cuarón, the director of “Roma,” is determined to find some artistic validity [...]

  • Panic at the Disco Concert Review

    Concert Review: Panic! at the Disco Brings Theatrical Flair to Forum

    At one particularly crowd-pleasing point during Panic! at the Disco’s show Friday at the Forum, Brendon Urie played the group’s cover of one of the “Greatest Showman” songs, from the recent tribute album devoted to that film, and it’s not hard to see why he would gravitate to the musical. Urie’s so much of a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content