Of course this year’s Academy Awards will feature performances of all of the nominees for Best Original Song—but there’s a surprising twist to the lineup. Given that entertainer extraordinaire Justin Timberlake is a nominee this year for the Trolls song/sensational pop hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”, and given that the Oscars are always chasing higher ratings, it would been shocking if they didn’t make time for a performance from a crossover superstar. So yes, Timberlake will be performing “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” on the Oscars stage. However, while La La Land is a double-nominee in the category for Emma Stone’s “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and the Ryan Gosling-led “City of Stars”, neither Stone nor Gosling will actually be performing the songs at the Oscars.
Instead, La La Land co-star John Legend will take the stage to perform both “Audition” and “City of Stars”, which isn’t a terrible tradeoff even though it would’ve been kind of neat to see Gosling and Stone singing live onstage—which is probably the reason the duo opted out of this performance. It’s understandable, as they’ve been on the La La Land press circuit for months now and are no doubt exhausted, and given that they’re also nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor, adding dual live performances to their to-do list would’ve been insanely nerve-wracking. Now they can just sit nervously in their seats and enjoy Legend’s rendition of the songs.
Sting will, of course, be performing his Oscar-nominated song “The Empty Chair” from the documentary Jim: The James Foley Story, and Hamilton creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda will be returning to the stage to perform “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana, which he wrote. Miranda will be joined in performance by Auli’I Cravalho, who voiced the lead character in Moana and sang the nominated song in the film.
As I’ve been saying for months, Best Original Song is one of the most exciting Oscar categories this year. It’s positively stacked with talent, and it’ll be a treat to see these songs performed on the show when it airs live on ABC on Sunday, February 26th.
Listen to the nominated songs below.