The Academy Awards went hostless again this year, which means there were plenty of surprises when it came to who popped up onstage. Among the surprises was an appearance by Eminem, who performed his 2002 Oscar-winning song “Lose Yourself” from the movie 8 Mile, also starring Marshall Mathers. People in the audience seemed to be loving it, but nearly everyone was confused about why it happened. Luckily, Eminem is here to clear the matter up for us.
To begin, it’s worth pointing out the now 47-year-old rapper did not perform “Lose Yourself” at the Oscars the year the song was nominated. There’s some conflicting info regarding why the performance didn’t happen, but now Eminem says he wanted to come back and give it a go since he missed his chance the year the song actually won. Per the rapper:
I kinda figured maybe since I didn’t get a chance to do it at the time, maybe it would be cool. Back then, I never even thought that I had a chance to win, and we had just performed “Lose Yourself” on the Grammys with the Roots a couple of weeks before the Oscars, so we didn’t think it was a good idea. And also, back at that time, the younger me didn’t really feel like a show like that would understand me.
While the Oscars performance aired, there were plenty of reactions about it from the crowd, ranging from a confused-looking Billie Eilish to Gal Gadot and Zazie Beetz happily singing along. Martin Scorsese seemed unmoved by the addition of “Lose Yourself” and plenty of other non-celebrities reacted from the comfort of their own homes as well.
Eminem’s explanation to Variety about why he decided to perform makes sense, as it explains his thoughts on why he didn’t show up for the Oscars ceremony back in 2003 as well as why it seemed like a good idea this time around. To note, rumors that had been running around back in the day regarding why he didn't perform had mentioned things like he didn’t want to bleep himself, which read as really odd to me as I’ve seen Eminem censor himself for TV before. Eminem also refuted those rumors in the interview, noting “Lose Yourself” really doesn’t have a lot of profanity in it and that wasn’t the case.
Instead, he said his daughter was in school at the time and he went to bed early, only to be woken up with the news he had won an Oscar, which does not seem to be what he was expecting ahead of the event. He genuinely seems to remember being surprised that 8 Mile could win for best song, also revealing:
I don’t know that I was disappointed, I was blown back by the fact that I won. I don’t even think I understood back then that you could get an Oscar for a song, and I remember being kinda confused about why I was even up for one, because as a kid with the Oscars, it was like a vacuum.
However, what I really wanted to know was how did the “Lose Yourself” performance even come up? According to Eminem, it was someone involved with the Oscars’ idea. The montage that preceded the performance was already going to be a part of the show and they just happened to ask, with Eminem confirming:
I think that’s pretty much how it went. And it was cool because we just put out an album, so we said maybe that’ll make sense with the timing of the new album.
I had wondered if it was Eminem’s team who reached out due to his new album or if someone involved with the Oscars had come up with the idea, so I’m really glad this was addressed before it became a what came first: chicken or egg situation. Now, that we all know, we can just enjoy (or ignore) the performance for what it is.