The American Songwriter Blog: Oscars Make Musicals Less Tolerable Than Ever

Oscars take the art of the medley to disturbing new heights.

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Hugh Jackman did an admirable job of hosting the Oscars last night, the first non-comedian to do so in many, many years. The Australian actor and Broadway star kicked off the 81st Annual Academy Awards with an elaborate song-and-dance number that won him a standing ovation.

“How come comic-book movies never get nominated?
How can a billion dollars be unsophisticated?
Everyone went to see The Dark Knight.
What am I doing you think is not right?
Is it my cape or my bullet-proof tights?
Maybe if I aged backwards … ”

It was a clever song that ably parodied the top Oscar nominees, and I wondered who wrote it. (Billy Crystal?)

For the first minute or so, I thought it was a bit dull and tuneless, but by the time the big finish came around, I was convinced it was brilliant. How can you not like a song that ends with jazz-hands Jackman belting “I’m Wolverine!”

Unfortunately, Hugh would follow that up with what was probably the worst thing in the history of recorded television.

I’m talking about the cringe-worthy tribute to musicals that seemed to never end.

The song, led by Jackman and his surprise singing partner Beyonce (who was probably lip-synching), featured the pair singing a lyric or two from one musical, before blithely moving on to the next one, like they were changing channels on a remote control. Chicago blended into West Side Story blended into High School Musical into The Sound of Music into Grease into West Side Story again….

It was like a bad trip, with no intermission. A new low in short-attention-span-theater.

When it was all over, and Jackman thanked “the man who created that number, Baz Luhrmann,” Luhrmann looked visibly embarrased.

Hugh Jackman: “The musical is back!”

No. Being afraid of musicals is back.


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  1. I’m with you on this one, Evan. I actually like musicals, but that was simply preposterous. And Beyonce’s unwillingness to sing live made it even more annoying. It left me wishing for a video montage of real movie musicals. It was more the sign of the apocalypse than the return of the musical. And I’m pretty sure Baz Luhrmann was embarrassed when they acknowledged him…

    “Not exactly what I pictured,” thought Baz.

  2. I think everyone should just save us a bunch of time and combine the Grammys and the Oscars. That way the Oscar people wouldn’t have to waste time trying to come up with music and bad comedy. they could just give out the award for Best Supporting Actress followed by a performance by Duffy, etc., etc. Skip the stupid jokes and the bad music….ok there still might be some bad music, but at least it would be at least we’d only have to sit through it all once!
    Also kudos to Peter Gabriel for declining to sing – can you imagine him doing his bit in that fiasco montage of the nominated movie songs? Yikes!

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