For the first time in Academy Awards history, performances for the five Best Song nominees were recorded in advance and shown during ABC’s Oscars pre-show. They were: Celeste and Daniel Pemberton (“Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”), H.E.R. (“Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”), Leslie Odom Jr. (“Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami”), Laura Pausini and Diane Warren (“Io Si: Seen” from “The Life Ahead”) and Molly Sanden (“Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest”). So who gave the best 2021 Oscars performance? Vote in our poll below.
This year’s group contains a record five female nominees, including most notably Warren (music and lyrics for “Io Si: Seen”), who’s up for her 12th individual Oscar. (See her previous 11 nominations right here.) The other women are all first-time contenders: Pausini (lyrics for “Io Si: Seen”), Celeste (lyrics for “Hear My Voice”), H.E.R. (music and lyrics for “Fight for You”) and Tiara Thomas (lyrics for “Fight for You”).
Four of the songs really got the tears flowing on Sunday, as they’re emotional ballads about the struggle for equality: “Hear My Voice,” “Fight for You,” “Speak Now” and “Io Si: Seen.” As for the last contender, “Husavik,” it’s an ode to a real-life hometown in Iceland. Sanden took over for Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, who memorably performed the song during “Eurovision Song Contest.” The other four songs didn’t appear until the end credits of their films.
All five performances were pre-recorded last week, some of them on the rooftop of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, as first reported by Variety. The long-delayed museum will now officially open on September 30, much later than expected due in part to the Covid-19 pandemic. For logistical reasons, this year’s Oscars take place at the historic Union Station instead of the oft-used Dolby Theatre. Only nominees and their guests were invited to the intimate venue, and all had to be tested for the coronavirus prior to gaining entrance to the ceremony.