The Reason Kendrick Lamar & SZA Aren't Performing At The Oscars Is Pretty Simple

by Parry Ernsberger
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While it's not necessarily a rule that every track nominated for Best Original Song gets a dedicated performance during the ceremony, some people might be wondering why Kendrick Lamar and SZA aren't performing at the Oscars this year. Out of the five songs nominated, Lamar and SZA's "All the Stars" from Black Panther is the only one that won't be sung live, but the reason why isn't at all dramatic.

A source told Variety the track's omission simply boils down to "logistics and timing." And it's theoretically reasonable, given musicians' busy schedules. However, while both Lamar and SZA have tour dates booked in the spring, neither appears to have a gig on Oscars weekend according to their official tour date listings. (Bustle reached out to Lamar and SZA's reps for comment, but has not yet heard back.)

Twitter, however, is *not* happy about it — and it's easy to understand why. While it'd obviously be ideal for Lamar and SZA to perform the track themselves, technically, the Academy could have gotten someone else to sing "All the Stars" in their place. So, why didn't they? For now, that remains unclear.

On the bright side, Variety confirmed that the other four tracks nominated for Best Original Song — “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Gillian Welch and David Rowlings), “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns (Bette Midler and Marc Shaiman), “I’ll Fight” from RBG (Jennifer Hudson) and “Shallow” from A Star Is Born (Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper) — will definitely be getting airtime during the telecast on Feb. 24., and they're bringing some seriously impressive star power to the stage.

This is actually really good news seeing as how multiple sources reportedly told Variety back in January that both "All the Stars" and "Shallow" wouldn't be performed at the Oscars this year. According to that report — which the Academy declined to provide a specific comment on at the time, other than basically saying they hadn't decided yet — the two tracks "would likely be acknowledged only during the announcement of the song nominees."

Cutting songs from the telecast isn't a diss to the performers, though, one of Variety's sources explained. It's supposedly just the producers' attempt to keep the show from going over three hours. Again, seems reasonable enough, but — if that's truly the case — how would you even begin to narrow them down? Why not give all of the songs the on-stage recognition they deserve by putting them together in, say, a medley?

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That's what they did in 2018, when rumors were circulating that the performance of Sufjan Stevens' nominated song — "Mystery of Love" from Call Me By Your Name — would be getting cut from the telecast. His rendition of the track was super short, but at least it wasn't singled out as the only Best Original Song that didn't get performed.

It's definitely a bummer that viewers won't get to see Lamar and SZA perform "All the Lights" at the 2019 Academy Awards. It's a great song by two great artists. Sadly — for whatever reason — it just wasn't in the cards this year.