Performances by Adele, Shirley Bassey and more were off the hook.

The music of the Oscars: Classics and modern hits

Yes, the 85th Annual Academy Awards went on for what seemed like forever, but along the way, the show featured some of the best musical Oscar performances in recent memory. From the sultry tones of Adele to the stunning high notes from Jennifer Hudson, this year's Academy Awards definitely entertained, at least musically speaking.

Several performances stood out for me. Adele's first-ever live performance of the song "Skyfall," from the 23rd James Bond film of the same name, was sublime. Somehow she makes every incredible note seem effortless, and that 15-piece orchestra really added to the layered beauty of the song. Not surprisingly, Adele went on to win the Best Song Academy Award (along with "Skyfall" co-writer Paul Epworth). To see Adele's performance (and several others mentioned here), you can visit the official Oscars' website's videos section.

FYI: "Skyfall" is the first James Bond song to ever win the Oscar for Best Song. Considering the 50-year history of the franchise, and all the marvelous Bond theme songs since, that's pretty astounding. Another trivia tidbit for you: This Oscar is the first for a James Bond film since Thunderball, starring Sean Connery as James Bond, won a Best Special Visual Effects golden statue in 1966. I'm so full of useless information after watching hours and hours of Hollywood glitz, I can't stand myself.

Back to the awesome musical performances: I'd definitely say Jennifer Hudson's "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" performance was outstanding. In case we'd forgotten, Hudson reminded all of us why she deserved that Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role as Effie in 2006's Dreamgirls.

A huge round of applause goes to Dame Shirley Bassey, who, at 76 years young, belted out an unforgettable version of "Goldfinger" from 1964's James Bond film of the same name - the third in what would become one of the most successful film franchises in movie history.

And yes, I'm getting to Barbra Streisand. The legend appeared on stage during the Memoriam tribute to entertainment icons we lost in 2012, including Marvin Hamlisch. Hamlisch composed the song Streisand chose, "The Way We Were." In fact, that song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1974. The Way We Were remains one of my all-time favorite tear jerking movies, and hearing Streisand belt it out again in that impressive voice was a huge musical highlight of this year's Oscars.

I also really enjoyed the full cast performance from Les Miserables. As a die-hard Les Mis fan, I was enthralled watching each and every cast member perform (yeah even Russell Crowe, bless his non-singing heart).

There was one notable low for me music-wise: Catherine Zeta-Jones' performance of "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago. She looked amazing, but I wondered whether she was lip synching. I really noticed it toward the end of the song. At the time I thought maybe I was just tired and not paying attention, but I'm not the only one who noticed, apparently. Did she, in fact, lip synch? I'd like to think she didn't, but I'm still questioning it.

Even if I was a bit disappointed at some of the Oscar wins, I cannot deny that I was extremely entertained my the musical performances, including the finale with Oscar host Seth MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth, as they sang a tribute to all the losers of the evening.

What did everyone else think about the music on Oscar night? Which performances stood out the most for you, and which ones do you think fell flat?

Photo courtesy of

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


Elaine M. 's picture
Elaine M.

If you look into Russel Crowe's past you'll find a robust singing career with his Aussie band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts (TOFOG for short). A handful of years ago they played at the San Diego House of Blues and Russell held sway. His strength was in the ballads but the band was tight. Perhaps between that and the rigors of singing in Les Miz he let his singing chops slide?

You are right Elaine, he's not exactly a non-singer -- I think it's just that I find his voice to be a bit grating, and to me (again, only my opinion) I don't feel like he is as outstanding as say, Jackman or Anne H. To each his own and I do think it was extremely challenging for all the singers with Les Mis. Now I'm off to find some TOFOG music, to see if I like that more.

I hate to be a negative Nancy but I felt like the orchestra was really drowning out the singers. I felt like Adele's power was really hidden, and Norah Jones was in the same boat. Maybe it was just the feed we had in Australia, but I was bummed to see some of those performances struggling. 

Actually I just watched Adele's Skyfall performance again and it DOES indeed seem like the orchestra is drowning her out, mainly during the chorus. Last night I really thought it was our TV's sound bar (it's possessed, it really is and I never know when it's going to crap out on us). It wasn't. Bad sound mixing. It wasn't just you!

I didn't watch the Oscars, but it seems like this was the first year with some really amazing performances, rather than a lot of embarrassing video tributes and dance numbers, as is usually the case.

Yes, it was a great array of performances and I thought it was actually better than most of what I saw on the Grammy Awards, to be honest. It definitely helped keep things moving for me.