Music News: Here are the musicians performing at the Oscars

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David Rawlings in the studio
David Rawlings and Gillian Welch, seen here performing a Radio Heartland session at The Current in 2017, are Academy Award nominees and will be performing at the Oscars on Sunday night. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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Here are the musicians performing at the Oscars
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Above, listen to an episode of The Current's daily Music News podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. You can also sign up for a daily Music News e-mail and join our Facebook group.


Like the Grammys, the Oscars are hoping to stave off a ratings decline. That's why four categories are having their presentations streamlined on Sunday night, and it would sure be nice if Kendrick Lamar and SZA would add some sizzle by performing their Black Panther collaboration "All the Stars," a nominee for Best Original Song. So far, though, Lamar and SZA — who didn't perform at the Grammys either — are the only nominees in that category not to confirm that they'll perform. Update 2/22: Rolling Stone reports the duo will definitely not perform, "due to timing and logistics."

So who's in, then? Gillian Welch and David Rawlings will sing "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings," their nominated song from the Coen Brothers' Netflix film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Lady Gaga, an overwhelming favorite to win the Oscar with "Shallow" from A Star Is Born, will perform the song as a live duet with costar Bradley Cooper, for the first time ever. (At the Grammys, she ably handled the song solo.)

Gaga won't be the only epic diva to light up the Dolby Theatre stage: Jennifer Hudson will sing "I'll Fight," from the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary RBG, and the Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler, will sing "The Place Where Lost Things Go" from Mary Poppins Returns.

There's only one true Queen, though...yes, I mean Queen, the band. They'll be there, with Adam Lambert taking the late Freddie Mercury's place on lead vocals, to play a song from the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. They haven't said which one, but...come on.

It all sounds pretty exciting, but don't get too excited: to keep things moving, each performance may be as short as 90 seconds. (Esquire)

Billie Eilish announces intimate acoustic shows

Young singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is one of the music world's biggest rising stars, but she's just announced one of the year's tiniest residencies. Two handfuls of lucky fans will get to see Eilish play acoustic gigs at the Pryzm Club in London on March 7, ahead of the release of her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? If you're not in London or can't land tickets to those shows, though, don't worry: she has much bigger shows booked around the world this year, including some massive festival gigs. (NME)

Annie Mac to lead new gender equity initiative

Annie Mac, a BBC 1 DJ who's considered one of England's leading music tastemakers, will lead a new music industry initiative aimed at promoting gender equity. The Equalising Music Pledge is sponsored by Smirnoff and endorsed by Keychange, the initiative working towards gender parity in festival booking. The initiative is described as a call to action encouraging "anyone working in the music industry to do one tangible thing for gender equality," says Keychange founder Vanessa Reed. (Music Business Worldwide)

Pub referenced in the Clash's "Stay Free" reportedly closing

If you're a superfan of the Clash, your London must-see list probably included the Crown & Sceptre, a pub referenced in the lyrics to the band's song "Stay Free." You'll have to hurry, though: the pub, which has been open for nearly 200 years, is reportedly closing its doors this coming Sunday.

In "Stay Free," which appears on the Clash's 1978 sophomore album Give 'Em Enough Rope, Mick Jones sings, "I practiced daily in my room, you were down the crown planning your next move." (NME)

Guy Webster, photographer for iconic album covers, dies at 79

Photographer Guy Webster has died of liver cancer at age 79. You've almost certainly seen his work: on the covers of albums like the Doors' self-titled debut (it was his idea for Jim Morrison to take off his shirt), Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence, and the Rolling Stones' Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass).

Aspiring to be a fine-art photographer, Webster was recruited to shoot Columbia Records album covers by a friend who worked at the label. He also photographed Hollywood legends like Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, and Candice Bergen; his widow says he has "these adorable pictures of the Kardashian girls growing up — he was like their family photographer."

Maybe the best story from Webster's career concerns the Mamas and the Papas' 1966 debut album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears. That's the one where all four band members are piled together in a bathtub, completely stoned. The photographer said it was his idea for the group to get into the tub, but band member Denny Doherty said it's where they'd been hiding out to avoid the cover shoot.

Although the band members were fully clothed in the photo, the resulting cover was still a little scandalous. There was the toilet, in full view! The label's solution: to get the album into record stores, they slapped a sticker over the toilet that said, "Including 'California Dreaming.'" (New York Times)

Viral clip: Vampire Weekend serve new music for breakfast

"Breakfast Can Wait," sang Prince, but Vampire Weekend are singing a different tune. Frontman Ezra Koenig puts on his bathrobe and flips some flapjacks in a new video for "Harmony Hall," an early single from the band's forthcoming album Father of the Bride. Guess we know who's making breakfast after the wedding night...but like Steve Martin and Diane Keaton, will Koenig and his girlfriend Rashida Jones wake up in the kitchen?We'll find out on April 22. (Rolling Stone)


Audio sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
London Festival Orchestra And Chorus: "Rule, Britannia!"
BoxCat Games: "Against The Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Billie Eilish: "Bury a Friend"
The Clash: "Stay Free"
Kendrick Lamar and SZA: "All the Stars"
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings: "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings"
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper: "Shallow"
Jennifer Hudson: "I'll Fight"
Emily Blunt: "The Place Where Lost Things Go"
Queen: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
The Mamas & the Papas: "California Dreamin'"
Vampire Weekend: "Harmony Hall"


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