oscars best song performances

In the face of intense backlash to the decision to spotlight only two of the Best Original Song nominees, the Academy is reversing its original plans for the 2019 Oscars Best Song performances. The Academy is now planning to have all five nominated songs performed on the February 24 telecast. If only they’ll reverse their decision to hand out certain technical awards during commercial breaks…

The Academy was the source of much controversy when it announced last week that it planned to spotlight two of the five Best Original song nominees: “Shallow” from A Star is Born and “All the Stars,” from Black Panther, coincidentally the only two top 10 hits of the nominees. The unpopular move, in addition to deciding to hand out technical awards during commercial breaks, was a misguided attempt to shorten the notoriously lengthy show.

However, early yesterday, the Academy tweeted that Jennifer Hudson would perform “I’ll Fight,” the Diane Warren-penned song from the documentary RGB. It followed up with an “spoiler” that “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns would be “performed by a surprise special guest” — which called into question whether Emily Blunt, who performed it in the film, would actually sing the song on stage. The only nominee the Academy didn’t confirm was “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” as performed by Willie Watson and Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

However, Variety reports that offers have been made to representatives of all five nominees to perform the songs, “although in truncated, 90-second form.” How did the Academy come to reverse its decision merely a week after the unpopular move was announced? According to Variety, the nominees agreed to put on a united front to persuade the Academy to let them “perform them all” or “perform none of them.” This is just hearsay for now, but a report from Deadline seems to confirm that Lady Gaga helped enact this change, feeling it was “unfair to eliminated the three songs — almost like the Academy producers were forecasting who they thought would win,” the outlet writes.

Spotlighting only two of the five songs definitely felt like a case of favoritism, though it seemed more like a ploy at better ratings than a case of broadcasting the predicted winners. But hopefully this reversal will play well with the three slighted nominees, and we’ll get to see all five songs performed. At least just give us Tim Blake Nelson in full cowboy regalia singing “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings.” We deserve as much.

The Oscars will air on February 24, 2019 on ABC.

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