Oscars 2019: Musical Performances Ranked

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Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga perform onstage during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on Feb. 24, 2019 in Hollywood, Calif.

With the absence of both Kendrick Lamar and SZA from performing their Academy Award-nominated song “All the Stars” from Black Panther, any list of the best Oscar performances was bound to feel incomplete. 

Still, the show must (and did) go on without the rappers during the broadcast of the 91st Oscars. And while their performance would have, no doubt, been one for the ages, there were still performances of the four other nominated songs (including the favored, and ultimate winner, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” from A Star is Born), as well as a Bohemian Rhapsody-inspired opener by Adam Lambert and Queen

Here’s how the musical performances at the 2019 Oscars played out, from worst to best: 

5.  Bette Midler takes Emily Blunt’s place in “The Place Where Lost Things Go” 

It feels shameful to put Bette Midler at the bottom of any list, but “The Place Where Lost Things Go” is one of the weaker songs from Mary Poppins Returns and the whole affair (complete with Marc Shaiman on the piano) felt very early '90s Disney easy listening fluff. We still bow down to you though, Bette!

4. Jennifer Hudson sings “I’ll Fight” 

Granted, the introduction to “I’ll Fight” from the documentary RBG may have been better than the actual song (Emilia Clarke, who introduced the performance, joked that her GoT character Khaleesi has nothing on Ruth Bader Ginsburg and that she could borrow her dragons anytime). Still, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson still knows how to command a stage, even if it’s ultimately a pretty forgettable song about an unforgettable woman. 

3. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings giddyup to “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” 

Granted, it would have been great if The Ballad of Buster Scruggs star Tim Blake Nelson actually got to sing this ditty on live TV (especially if it had been alongside announcer Kacey Musgraves), but Welch and Rawlings crooning did the Coen Brothers proud.

2.  Adam Lambert and Queen perform “We Will Rock You” 

No matter what your feelings are on the controversial biopic Bohemian Rhapsody are, you’re kidding yourself if you weren’t stopping your feet right along with Lambert (he sure can hit those high notes) and the late Freddie Mercury’s bandmates. The iconic “We Will Rock You” kicked off the hostless 91st Academy Awards, and no one seemed too upset about it, especially not stars like Javier Bardem and Glenn Close who were rocking the hell out. 

1. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper duet “Shallow” 

Was there ever a doubt? Not only was the track from A Star is Born bound to win the Oscar for Best Song (and rightfully so), their chemistry on stage was just as electric as it was on the big screen. Without any announcement, Cooper and Gaga walked up, sat at their respective instruments, and belted out “Shallow” to the amazement of everyone there, and watching at home. The stars’ sultry looks at one another will sitting at the piano launched a thousand “OMGs on Twitter. A perfect Oscar performance was born.