Common, Sufjan Stevens grace the Oscars with some under-appreciated class

Two phenomenal artists who wear their politics and faith on their sleeves brought some moments of class to the mixed-bag affair

Tue 06 Mar, 2018

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

US hip-hop artist Common and indie maestro Sufjan Stevens both turned in notable performances at the Oscars on Sunday night, despite both being ultimately snubbed for the ‘Best Original Song’ category.

It’s probably fair to say that the 90th Oscars ceremony was a bag of contradictions: its self-congratulatory nature and lack of diversity has seen the Oscars come under increasing scrutiny lately, with the #MeToo movement hanging noticeably over proceedings. Along with Jordan Peele’s win and Frances McDormand’s speech, the presence of Stevens and Common felt like small (but welcome) breaks in ‘business as usual’.

Of course, they were given a typically restrained spotlight. Stevens’s appearance was the more baffling, being given a scant two minutes to play ‘Mystery of Love’ with a barely-visible backup band of preposterous talent in St Vincent, Chris Thile, and Moses Sumney. But offstage Stevens has been increasingly outspoken about his faith, injustice in the States, and the evangelical support for the President.

Meanwhile, Common performed ‘Stand Up for Something’ from Marshall alongside Andra Day. He took the opportunity of an uncensored microphone to ad-lib over the fairly straightforward song, referring obliquely to 45 as “a president that trolls with hate,” calling on the audience to “stand up” for immigrants and ‘dreamers’ (a reference to undocumented child migrants).

Watch both performances, below.