A Brief History Of Musical Tributes At The Oscars

This year's Oscars will go down in history as one long (really long) celebration of the musical. Something about the 10th anniversary of "Chicago" and the popularity of "Les Miserables" clearly struck a chord with the show's producers, so they offered up a production that seemed more like the Tonys than the Oscars. But it's not like musical numbers are an anomaly at the Academy Awards.  The history of the awards show is filled with musical show-stoppers (or show enders), and here are a few of the memorable ones (for good or for bad).

Neil Patrick Harris opening number 2010

Neil Patrick Harris opened the Oscars with a fabulous Broadway-like song-and-dance number that tributed the various nominees.

Irving Berlin tribute (1982)

In 1983, the Academy paid tribute to legendary composer Irving Berlin with a 10-minute-plus musical number starring Broadway performer Bernadette Peters and Aussie songwriter Peter Allen. Ironically, Berlin, who wrote nearly 1500 songs in his 101 years, never won an Oscar.

Everyone Sings Judy's Classic

The 62nd Academy Awards celebrated the "universality of movies." To illustrate the point, Michelle Pfeiffer introduced one of her favorites, "Over the Rainbow." Just as Judy Garland is shown singing the "Wizard of Oz" classic, another voice joins in, and it's none other than Diana Ross, who invites the audience to sing along – including audiences broadcast from Australia, the UK, Japan and Moscow.

Also check out: Oscars Musicals Tribute: From "Dreamgirls" to Les Miserables."

Stanley Donen's Lifetime Achievement Speech

"Singin' in the Rain" and "Damn Yankees" director, famed choreographer and Gene Kelly protege Stanley Donen surprised the audience with an unexpected soft-shoe performance at the 1997 Academy Awards. The recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award, Donen sang "Cheek to Cheek" and did a little tap number -- at the age of 62!

Dreamgirls Sing It Together

Jennifer Hudson is no stranger to the Academy Awards, obviously. She not only won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing Effie in "Dreamgirls," but she also sang an awesome medley of the movie musical's songs with Beyonce. Although none of the song's won, Hudson walked away with her own golden fella.

The worst musical number of all time: Snow White and Rob Lowe

There have been thousands of words written about how awful this musical opening was, so we'll let it speak for itself.

And although it's not a tribute to musicals, the In Memoriam montage has frequently featured a "musical number" – just not quite on the scale of Barbra Streisand. Just last year, Esperanza Spalding sang "What a Wonderful World" and two years ago, James Taylor sang a stripped-down version of the Beatles' tear-jerker "In My Life."