Music has become a larger and larger part of the Oscars with each passing year for close to a decade at this point, and last night’s broadcast of the 87th annual Academy Awards was certainly no different. As the night progressed, so did the number of musical numbers, with performances from every original song nominee, as well as a tribute to The Sound Of Music. When it came time to hand out that little golden man however, only one song was on everyone’s mind:
If we’re being completely honest then I feel I must say that I initially wanted The Lonely Island to win for their work on “Everything Is Awesome.” It’s not that I hated “Glory,” or even that I disliked Selma, but considering how little the Academy chose to recognize the accomplishments of The Lego Movie I felt it at least deserved to win in this category. After watching the performances however, I realized that was not going to be the case. The Oscars almost always stack the performances so that whoever wins Best Original Song is the last to perform, and that was once again the case with Common and John Legend last night. Amidst a night filled with celebrity and celebration, they brought a various series and, for some, heartbreaking change of pace to the evening’s entertainment:
Anyone familiar with Selma and/or the story of Martin Luther King Jr. will no doubt recognize the Edmund Pettus Bridge as the place where men, women, and children marched together for the rights of all people. Bringing that moment to life in the movie was moving enough, but seeing it replicated in front of the most influential people in entertainment proved to be an equally emotional affair. People seated at the Dolby Theater were in tears, as were millions at home, and whether or not people had seen Selma no longer mattered. With just over five minutes Common and John Legend had moved people around the globe with a song they wrote to empower every person who feels as if life has passed them over. A song that, for many, will now be a moving declaration of rebellion from forces who try to hold any person back on the basis of ethnicity or gender.
There is nothing wrong with “Everything Is Awesome,” and I have no doubt it will be remembered for quite some time, but in terms of tracks that possess the power to truly move people “Glory” is in a league all its own. Common and John Legend have crafted a protest song that plays as well in a room full of tuxedos as it does when blasting through the car stereo of every blue collar worker in America. If that is not an accomplishment worthy of praise, let alone a tiny gold statue, I don’t know what could be. I still don’t believe Selma is all that great, but “Glory” is something we as a society will celebrate and revisit for many years to come.