I'm a La La Land fanatic. This much has been determined. I've seen it six times. I'm a vocal champion for director Damien Chazelle and his heart-swelling musical masterpiece. And when the Oscar nominations were announced a few weeks back, the ones that truly piqued my interests were the two songs singled out in the Best Song category: "Audition," performed by Emma Stone; and "City of Stars," performed by Stone and Ryan Gosling. This meant that the two nominated actors would perform the songs live on stage during the Academy Awards. Right? Right?!?
Wrong. Variety now reports that John Legend -- a La La Land co-star whose song WASN'T nominated -- will perform those two songs live at the Oscars instead of Stone and Gosling. No reason is given for the decision, leaving us to speculate on the conversations that happened behind the scenes. First and foremost, the actors probably decided that they didn't want to perform live. They are actors, after all, and not live performers (though both have extensive experience in theater, including Stone's turn on Broadway in Cabaret). The Oscars are a stressful venue, with millions around the globe watching. My palms sweat just thinking about Emma Stone singing this live on stage:
So no, I can't blame her, but not having Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling perform the two songs that are crucial to the emotional resonance of the movie that's likely going to win Best Picture means that the "must see" hook of the Academy Awards this year automatically has been diminished. I wanted to see these two sing these songs. I need to. And based on Twitter, I'm not alone.
Skip to the :48 second mark of this clip, from the movie, to just see how much chemistry these two have while singing City of Stars.
We want John Legend singing this? With who? By himself? Especially "Audition," which bleeds hope and desperation in equal measures. That songs works because Emma Stone sells it. John Legend is a brilliant performer. These songs belong to these actors, and having someone else sing them at the Academy Awards is a cheat. It's a problem. It's a disaster.
Maybe I'm overreacting. You tell me, La La Land fans: Are you cool with John Legend singing "Audition" and "City of Stars" at the Oscars? Do you think that Stone and Gosling just chose not to, after being offered? Or is this a play to have Legend join true musicians like Justin Timberlake (Trolls) and in performing for the live show?