At the 2020 Oscars, Hollywood honored the stars it lost last year with help from Billie Eilish, who delivered a heartfelt performance of a song close to her heart.
Considering the year that Billie Eilish has had, some expected she was going to take home an Oscar after she was announced as a special performer at the 92nd Academy Awards. That may happen next year – Billie has been tapped to sing the theme for No Time To Die, which will likely score an Oscar nod – but this year, she had a very important task at the Oscars. The 18-year-old was tasked with singing during this year’s In Memoriam segment, and she delivered. During the Feb. 9 ceremony, after changing into a sparkly-black outfit, Billie delivered a heartfelt rendition of The Beatles, “Yesterday.”
Before her performance, she had to hit the red carpet, of course. With her brother/collaborator Fineas by her side, Billie strutted her stuff while in head-to-toe Chanel. Even her gloves were Chanel, or “CHA” and “NEL,” just to drive the point home (and bring even more attention to her nine-inch long nails.) The oversized white suit, made of a fabric that invoked the comfort of a bathrobe, was a mixture of Chanel and Billie’s trademark style. It seemed like she brought her own take on Oscars’ glam, and it looked great.
Ahead of her performance, Billie gave her fans a hint as to what they could expect at the awards show. “Honored to be performing during the ‘In Memoriam’ segment for the Oscars tonight,” Billie posted to her Instagram Story hours before the event, “covering a song I’ve always loved. Watch with us.”
Billie’s appearance at the Oscars come after she became the second artist in history to sweep the big four categories: Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year. The only other person to do it was Christopher Cross, whose self-titled debut pulled off the feat in 1981, 20 years before Billie was born.
2020 hasn’t been all slime-green rainbows and kittens for Billie. Before the Oscars appearance, she came under fire for her comments regarding hip-hop. In her cover profile with Vogue, Billie said that her songs are never strictly autobiographical. She and her brother (and songwriter/producer) Fineas utilize characters and write songs from those characters. “Just because the story isn’t real doesn’t mean it can’t be important,” she explains, noting that many artists she admires – from Tyler, the Creator to Aurora to Marina and the Diamonds utilize dark alter ego. “There’s a difference between lying in a song and writing a story. There are tons of songs where people are just lying. There’s a lot of that in rap right now, from people that I know who rap. It’s like, ‘I got my AK-47, and I’m f*ckin’…and I’m like, what? You don’t have a gun. ‘And all my bitches. . . .’ I’m like, which bitches? That’s posturing, and that’s not what I’m doing.”
That an uber-popular teenage white girl was making this judgment statement on hip-hop rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. While there was a small backlash against seemingly saying rappers were liars, New York Rapper and The Lox member Styles P offered a different take, per The Fader. “Who is Billie Eilish? Why the f*ck do we care what she thinks?? And she is sorta right, but she don’t get the culture, nor is she part of it, so why do we give a f*ck? How or why is her opinion important to us? Rappers can say whatever the fuck they want and pretty much all rappers lie. If you don’t like it then, don’t listen and mind your damn business.”