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Music Notes from the Oscars That You May Have Missed

Three hours and 35 minutes. If you made it through the whole thing, then you’re either (a) a super hardcore movie fan; or (b) a sucker for punishment.  But even if you did watch all of the Academy Awards, you may have missed some of the more subtle musical moments.

Item 1: “Fight the Power”

What better way to introduce Chris Rock as host for #OscarsSoWhite than with a Public Enemy song played by the orchestra? And if you made it to the end, it was also the last song played. Spike Lee, the director of Do the Right Thing, the movie from which the song comes, should be happy. His presence was felt even though he boycotted the event. (Reach Chuck D’s comments here.)

Item 2: Liberal use of Wagner

Richard Wagner, Hitler’s favourite composer, was also very anti-semitic. Using “Flight of the Valkyries” to play off the director of Son of Saul, winner of Best Foreign Language film, a movie set in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Yes, the piece is famous for its use in Apocalypse Now, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. The orchestra started the play the song but quickly switched the theme from Indiana Jones. Twitter went nuts over this one.

Item 3: No surprise that Ennio Morricone won for Best Original Score

Quentin Tarantino was thrilled to land Morricone for The Hateful Eight because he was such a fan of the work he’d done for those classic spaghetti westerns of the 60s and 70s. At 87, Morricone became the oldest winner of an Academy Award ever. Easily a favourite of the Academy and a nice “job well done all these decades” honour.

Item 4: Dave Grohl and the “in memoriam” section

Grohl was very calm in his solo version of the Beatles “Blackbird.” The second-last person saluted during the segment was writer Dan Gerson, who died last month of brain cancer. Dan was a writer on Monsters Inc, Monsters University, Cars 3, Big Hero 6. His longtime writing partner was Rob Baird, a former commercial copywriter at 102.1 the Edge/Toronto.

Item 5: No Kanye


Item 6: Sam Smith hated his performance

Yes, he and his writing partner Jimmy Napes won for “Writing’s on the Wall,” the Bond theme for SPECTRE, but he thought his performance sucked. Me? I wish Radiohead had got then gig for their submission.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38346 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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