Last night, Janelle Monáe opened the 92nd Academy Awards by giving the viewers at home and the glitterati in the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles a performance to talk about.
She paid tribute to the legendary children’s performer Fred Rogers all dressed in tuxedo shirt and pants, slipping into her Rogers-esque red sweater to sing “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
Walking into the audience, she sang the whimsical song directly to the A-listers in the front row, which included nominated actresses Cynthia Erivo, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie, as well as It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood nominee Tom Hanks, who shared a warm smile with the singer. “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day/ We’re here at the Oscars/ So might as well stay,” she sang, popping off her bowler hat and plunking it onto Hanks’ head.
The singer, who hit the red carpet before the show in a sparkly silver gown with a matching hood, then lost the red sweater and explained that the night was slated to be a celebration of the art of storytelling. “The misfits, the outcasts, the misunderstood/ Those voices long deprived,” she sang in an excitable voice over a jazzy accompaniment.
“Be loud, be seen, be lit, be heard/ Because tonight we come alive,” she sang, dusting off the track “Come Alive (War of the Roses)” from her 2010 album The ArchAndroid as a chorus of dancers dressed like characters from some of the year’s most beloved movies enveloped her and earned shout-outs, including the Joker, Dolemite Is My Name and Parasite. As Monáe moved to a silver piano stacked high with flowers, Pose‘s Billy Porter came out in a red jumpsuit, gold cape and stacked silver platforms to sing a bit of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.”
Pulling on the flowery shawl from the terrifying Midsommar, Monáe got the house snapping along with her, staring down Brad Pitt in the front row and pointedly shouting out all the “women who directed phenomenal films” as a nod to the fact that, once again, no female directors were nominated for Oscars this year.
“And I’m proud to stand here as a black, queer artist telling stories, happy Black History Month,” she said, asking Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio to sing some “la, la las,” then lying down on the floor before shouting “everybody come alive” as confetti filled the air.
Watch Monáe’s performance below.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 10, 2020