The 12 greatest Oscars music performances of all time, ranked

14 March 2022, 14:59 | Updated: 14 March 2022, 15:59

The greatest Oscars performances
The greatest Oscars performances. Picture: Academy Awards/YouTube

By Tom Eames

From Springsteen to Robin Williams...

This Sunday (March 20) sees the Oscars return to Tinsel Town, with some of the biggest names in Hollywood celebrating the best of the big screen over the last 12 months.

We've gone back through the archives and picked the very best Oscars live performances of the past few decades:

  1. Robin Williams - 'Blame Canada' (2000)

    The South Park movie earned an unlikely music nomination, and to celebrate, Robin Williams was hired to belt out the song about their friends up in Canada.

    It was gloriously rude, but amazingly staged, with Williams showing just how much of a talent he was. In the end, the song lost out to Phil Collins’ 'You’ll Be in My Heart' from Tarzan.

  2. Bruce Springsteen - 'Streets of Philadelphia' (1994)

    Bruce Springsteen is one the greatest live performers of all time, but even he couldn't help but seem vulnerable when singing this beautiful song from the Tom Hanks drama Philadelphia.

    It was a simple but highly effective performance, and one we'll treasure forever.

  3. Diana Ross and Lionel Richie - 'Endless Love' (1982)

    Two of the greatest pop icons teamed up for this fantastic duet, which was the title song of the movie of the same name.

    Diana and Lionel appeared via staircases and stared deeply into each others' eyes in a truly powerful romantic performance. All it needed was a kiss!

  4. Aerosmith - 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' (1999)

    Steve Tyler was in fine form in 1999, when his band performed at that year's Oscars with their love theme from Armageddon.

    Amazingly, they didn't win the Oscar for Best Original Song, but to be fair, they were beaten by our runner-up in this list.

  5. Michael Jackson - 'Ben' (1973)

    The future King of Pop was just 13 when he appeared on the Oscars stage wearing a red sweater vest and proving to the world the talent he already had.

    Despite singing about a horror film's killer rat, the performance was beautiful and gave the world a glimpse of what was to come from him.

  6. The Temptations - 'Eye of the Tiger' (1983)

    Yes, you read that right.

    For some bizarre - but amazing - reason, soul legends The Temptations were recruited for 1983's Oscars to belt out 'Eye of the Tiger' from the latest Rocky film.

    We assume Survivor weren't available.

  7. Adele - 'Skyfall' (2013)

    Never before had a Bond theme held such power, and Adele's track finally won 007 an Oscar after decades of trying.

    Shirley Bassey must have been very proud at this.

  8. Madonna - 'Sooner or Later' (1991)

    While the song may not be one of Madonna's greatest, the performance certainly was.

    Taken from the Dick Tracy soundtrack, the Queen of Pop put on a Marilyn Monroe-inspired show and celebrating the very best of Old Hollywood.

  9. Elton John - 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight' (1995)

    Elton John appeared at the Oscars to deliver the gorgeous love song from The Lion King, giving one of his best ever performances in the process.

    His vocals are perfect here, and you know you're watching a genius when simply singing at a piano can fill the whole auditorium and then some.

  10. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper - 'Shallow' (2019)

    The chemistry between these two spilled over onto the Oscars stage, as they belted out the song from A Star is Born, which later won them the main prize too.

  11. Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston - 'When You Believe' (1999)

    Audiences at the 1999 Oscars were treated to an unforgettable performance by two of the greatest singers of all time.

    Whitney and Mariah teamed up with this theme from the Prince of Egypt, which took home the prize for Best Original Song.

  12. Celine Dion - 'My Heart Will Go On' (1998)

    Celine Dion showed just why she is known for her incredible voice by belting out this Titanic love theme on a night dominated by the romantic drama.

    We may have been sick of hearing it by the time she came on stage, but all those thoughts were replaced by pure mesmerisation of a singing masterclass.