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Oscars 2013: How Music Dominated A Ceremony About Film

Michelle Tiu, Lilian Min |
February 24, 2013 | 9:20 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter, Music Editor

While the Oscars ceremony was ostensibly about music from all of the nominated films, the overall ceremony had plenty of musical accompaniment and performances.

From some of the snarky walk-off music choices (e.g. the theme from "Jaws," which was used liberally) to the music and film montage featuring the illustrious contributions of the "Bond" films to both art forms, there was a disproportionate amount of performed and applauded music present, considering that in the entire 4-hour Oscars presentation, there were only two categories directing relating to music.

Those two categories were as follows:

  • Best Original Score - awarded to Mychael Danna, for "Life of Pi"
  • Best Original Song - awarded to Adele and Paul Epworth, for "Skyfall"

Why so musical? The show's producers this year are Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and their production team, Storyline Productions, has been behind such musical film hits like "Chicago" and "Hairspray."

They certainly had a hand in the decision to include so many musical numbers in tonight's show, but of course part of that decision also has to come from host Seth MacFarlane.

MacFarlane's taste for the musical was evident from the beginning to the close of the show; he does have a dulcet tone, even if the words he's singing aren't so sweet.

So, let's break down the musical performances at the Oscars. From the top!

"Opening Number," Seth MacFarlane


The original Captain Kirk from "Star Trek," William Shatner, came back in time to stop Seth MacFarlane from being the "worst Oscar host ever," showing everyone just what they might be in store for.

Cue "We Saw Your Boobs," a hilarious number by MacFarlane and "The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles" about actresses who've been nude on the silver screen. In response to this clip, MacFarlane performs a series of musical numbers in order to redeem himself.

Backed by the dancing talent of Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron, the host impressed with his version of the Fred Astaire classic, "The Way You Look Tonight."

Despite the fact that MacFarlane, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Daniel Radcliffe all have amazing voices, the following number fell flat and no one's entirely sure what this song is about. 

Something about ants... We think. 

Finally, MacFarlane brings in a little Disney with his take on "The Beauty and the Beast" classic, "Be Our Guest." The entertaining segment ends with a future headline about MacFarlane's hosting job: "Best Oscars ever, says everyone except Entertainment Weekly."

We're gonna have to agree. With the exception of that confusing ant song, MacFarlane did a great job kicking off tonight's musically themed Oscars.

"Goldfinger," Shirley Bassey

Welsh singer Shirley Bassey took to the stage in order to celebrate 50 years of James Bond films.

Famous for recording the theme songs to 3 Bond films, including the iconic "Diamonds Are Forever," Bassey was a good choice for the Academy's tribute.

Singing the theme to the 1964 film "Goldfinger," Bassey brought the house down, and spurred the audience into giving one of the few standing Os of the night.

"All That Jazz," Catherine Zeta-Jones; "And I'm Telling You," Jennifer Hudson; "Les Miserables Medley," movie cast

Reprising her role from the 2002 movie, Catherine Zeta-Jones kicked off the tribute to musicals of the past decade right with her famous "Chicago" hit. The cast of "Chicago" in full made a return to the stage later to give out the music awards. Hmm, could this have anything to do with the aforementioned involvement of Zadan and Meron?

Regarding Hudson, when does this woman not blow everyone away? Absolutely amazing.

In a production that included a stellar rendition of Best Original Song nominated "Suddenly" and "One Day More," the cast definitely killed it with a medley of some of the musical's biggest hits.

After seeing this incredible performance, it's hard not to see why the film is in the running for 8 Oscars tonight, including Best Picture and Best Costume Design.

"Skyfall," Adele

Like Jennifer Hudson, this woman is pretty much unstoppable.

Honestly, if Adele didn't get to add "Oscar winner" to her resume, we might have to question the sanity of the Academy.

"The Way We Were," Barbara Streisand

For her first Oscars performance in 36 years, the musical legend did a great job singing the title song from the 1973 movie "The Way We Were" in a fitting tribute to late composer Marvin Hamlisch.

It was interesting to note that out of all the people featured in the "In Memoriam" reel, it was Hamlisch that was featured. Not that his accomplishments didn't warrant recognition: Hamlisch is one of 11 people in the world who've ever won the EGOT quadruple threat (that's an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award).

"Everybody Needs a Best Friend," Norah Jones

Singing the song written by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane, Jones did a mediocre job performing the tune from from "Ted" as part of the segment right before the announcement of the Best Original Song. Kind of difficult to follow up after Adele, the "Les Mis" cast, Jennifer Hudson, and literally every other performer before Jones.

And her outfit probably drew everyone's attention away from her singing anyways.

What might have made this performance better? Ted coming back on stage to sing the Thunder Buddies song.

"Closing Number," Kristin Chenoweth and Seth MacFarlane

Someone bring back Kristin Chenoweth for the next awards show. She killed it on the red carpet and with this hilarious duet dedicated to the "losers" of the night. Although, being even considered for an Oscar is a pretty good consolation prize...

Read more of NT's Oscars coverage here.

Reach Staff Reporter Michelle Tiu here or follow her on Twitter.

Reach Music Editor Lilian Min here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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