Oscar Recap: The Night’s Most Musical Moments

By Hayden Wright

We’ve brought you music awards show coverage, but tonight we’re highlighting the musical moments in this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Here’s a chronological rundown of what happened, in case you missed it:

8:30: Chris Rock takes to the stage as Public Enemy‘s “Fight the Power” plays. The entrance music signaled a controversial monologue which took aim at Jada Pinkett Smith, Kevin Hart, and the “sorority-racist” mindset of contemporary Hollywood. He goes there.

Related: A Brief History of Controversies Around the Best Original Song Oscar

9:04: Sam Smith is introduced following a hilarious introduction by Sarah Silverman—who admits she didn’t see Spectre. “I’m here to introduce an artist who, through no fault of his own, sang the latest Bond song,” she quipped. Smith’s circular backdrop mirrored the iconic “gun barrel sequence” at the opening of every 007 film, and made ample use of his range, from falsetto (somewhat pitchy) to lower register (all systems go). “Writing’s On the Wall” is a Golden Globe winner for Best Original Song, which might be his reward for the season.

9:30: Shout-out to [a] Suge Knight [impersonator], bound in a straightjacket, rocking signature prison orange, cheering on Straight Outta Compton from the mezzanine. Fun fact: Five different actors have portrayed Knight in various movies (two yet-to-be-released this year).

10:15: Kevin Hart delivers a heartfelt introduction for The Weeknd’s “Earned It,” which appears to be staged at a VIP bottle service booth. Provocative cabaret choreography livens up the performance and stays true to its film: 50 Shades of Grey. Talk about brand consistency.

10:42: Amy, the film about the life of Amy Winehouse, wins Best Documentary Feature. Director Asif Kapadia and producer James Gay-Rees reiterated that the film was dedicated to showing Winehouse as she really was. Sad news for fans and producers of What Happened, Miss Simone?, the Netflix documentary that explored the life and struggles of jazz and civil rights legend Nina Simone.

10:50: After challenging the audience to support his daughter’s Girl Scout troop, Chris Rock unveiled the cash haul at a whopping $65,243. You know, just walking-around money for a couple hundred people. The lead contributor? “Suge Knight.”

10:55: Louis Gossett Jr. introduces Dave Grohl who performs the Beatles’ “Blackbird” through the In Memoriam segment. The tasteful bit includes actor-rockers David Bowie and Christopher Lee, as well as composer James Horner.

11:09: Seemingly apropos of nothing musical, Vice President Joe Biden is in the house. The Second Lady looks on from a balcony. “I’m the least qualified man here tonight!” Quick pivot: He’s introducing Lady GaGa. He directs viewers to ItsOnUs.org, a site designed to help victims of sexual violence.

11:12: Lady Gaga performs “Til It Happens to You,” her nominated song from the campus-assault documentary The Hunting Ground. Her performance is somber-er than the phenomenally received Sound of Music medley Gaga gave us last year, but the moving accompaniment drives the message home. She’s joined onstage by scores of assault survivors bearing arm tattoos that read “Not Your Fault.” Standing ovation. It’s easy to see why she’s the odds-on favorite to take home the statuette.

11:19: Pharrell Williams and Quincy Jones are here to present the music categories. Pharrell, looking ageless, appears without his hat. Some small talk about how film music lives forever and all that awards show stuff. He’s right, but we get it. On to the winners!

11:22: Best Original Score goes to Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight. This is the legendary composer’s first competitive win of six nominations, beginning in 1979 for Days of Heaven. He received an honorary award in 2007 but at 87 years young, it’s never too late to win for real.

11:25: Common and John Legend (last year’s winners for “Glory” from Selma) are announcing our Best Original Song winner.

11:27: Best Original Song goes to Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith for “Writing’s on the Wall,” which joins Adele’s “Skyfall” in the category of Bond songs to win the big prize. He mistakenly suggests he may be the “first openly gay man” to win an Oscar—and while no out celebrity has triumphed in an acting categories, gay men and women have won a number of other prizes through the years. Nevertheless, a nice sentiment!

That’s all the musical highlights fit to print, folks!

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