Top 5 Musical Highlights from the Oscars

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Neil Patrick Harris & Anna Kendrick

The 87th Academy Awards didn’t just bring out the best when it came to acting and film. The Oscars also showcased some impressive and ear-catching musical moments as well. Alex Donner, a seasoned society musician who has built a reputation for almost three decades as a singer and bandleader for elegant music worthy of the best galas, weighs in on the good, bad and memorable performances from this year’s Academy Awards.


1. Neil Patrick Harris’ opening
True to form, the evening’s host Neil Patrick Harris opened with a show-stopping musical number complete with cleverly executed shadow projection effects and an entire dancing ensemble, all to playfully pay tribute to the night’s big nominees. “It was a bit more Tonys than Oscar’s but he’s just so likeable,” Donner says. “It was very good. I thought it was a cute opening.”

Common & John Legend

2.Glory’s Big Oscar Win
Songwriters Common and John Legend brought the Hollywood & Highland audience to tears with their performance of the Oscar-nominated song moments before winning the award. “Everybody knew Glory was going to win for Best Song. It was a way to honor to Selma,” quips Alex. “John Legend is terrific. He really is a fabulous performer. It was right time, right place for that song.”


Lady Gaga

3.Lady Gaga Singing The Sound of Music
A never-before-seen side of Gaga was revealed as she belted out the title medley from the iconic 1965 movie musical, much to the surprise and varied responses of all who were watching. “She’s become a good standards and Broadway singer. Technically, she was excellent,” starts Alex. “But it was a strange choice for her, although Julie Andrews did laud her afterwards. Everyone I was watching with had the same look on their face: ‘Don’t tell me this is real.’”


Jennifer Hudson

4. J-Hud’s Tribute to Whitney
Songstress and Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson performed the emotionally charged I Can’t Let Go from Smash, which she starred on, in memoriam of the film talents who had passed away in the last year. “It was another of those songs that is very reminiscent of the Whitney Houston era, and it carried a lot of emotional ups and downs,” Alex admits. “There’s only one Whitney Houston, but Jennifer Hudson is excellent.”


Everything Is Awesome

5. Fun with Legos and Everything Is Awesome
Tegan and Sara and The Lonely Island gave the most energetic performance of the evening, featuring a Batman-clad Will Arnett rocking out with Questlove and Oscars made of Legos, which were handed out to a few lucky audience members. But did the performance match with the caliber of the Academy Awards? “My mother always told me if you have nothing good to say, to just shut up,” Alex says with a chuckle. Some things are better left unsaid.


No matter which of the evening’s musical moments commanded your attention, the Oscar’s prestigious stage continues to be graced by artists and performances that go down in entertainment history. “With music, everybody hears and feels something unique,” Alex muses. “Whether good or bad, it brings people together, and that’s what is truly important.”


Society Bandleader Alex Donner’s eclectic music has danced off the walls of the most glamorous parties on the East Coast.  Dubbed “The Latter-Day Lester Lanin” by the New York Times, Alex Donner has become a staple of the society circuit, upscale weddings and other events including benefits and debutante balls.  His company, Alex Donner Entertainment has grown to encompass six different New York-themed bands and books combos ranging from classical duos and trios, to funk and Top 40, to R&B and their specialty society dance music. The Alex Donner Orchestra has been named the “Top Band in New York” by Quest and they have been reported in WWD “Suzy”, New York magazine, Elegant Bride, Palm Beach Daily News, Town & Country, New York Observer, New York Daily News, New York Social Diary, New York Sun and the New York Post. Donner currently has three albums entitled “White Tie,” “Black Tie Blues” and his latest “Alex Donner at The Tiffany Ball.”

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