Opinion: Menzel sells herself short at Oscars

Neville Hardman is a sophomore magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.  Contact her at [email protected].

Neville Hardman

Idina Menzel had a night equivalent to a fraternity boy’s wicked hangover. It was powerful, painful and rough all over, but luckily it will be forgotten with time. The Broadway star participated in the Oscars with a performance of “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen” on Monday evening, but let’s skip past the utterly horrifying name slaughter prior to the song. Get your life together, Travolta.

Upon hearing Menzel begin, you start to get amped to sing along to an ass-kicking masterpiece that will later give you a gushing desire to run outside and throw snowballs at strangers. But as the performance carries on, you realize something is not right.

Menzel’s voice is shaking and she sings faster because she was nervous and the tempo was moving quickly. The anticipation made you want to scream and as she cracked her big note at the end, you realized you were left with a sharp feeling of discomfort and disappointment as the awards show forged ahead.

The performance was a flop. “Frozen” fans can still relish in winning Best Original Song and Best Animated Feature; the movie soundtrack even continues to top the charts of Billboard 200 long after its debut Nov. 23.

These awards cannot make up for the present disappointment, though. As viewers, we combat a constant desire to be enamored with a performance. It’s easy to feel like stars owe us spectacular shows and that they’re not allowed to be anything other than perfect. But even the best artists are entitled to have bad days.

Menzel was nervous. Her name was mispronounced during her introduction. Parts were cut from the song to shorten her stage time. She’s currently involved in the production of another Broadway musical, “If/Then,” according to her personal website Idinamenzel.com.

These circumstances are all plausible reasons for an inadequate performance. Her musical-theater background was her best weapon against a crowd of polished celebrities, but it was also an obstacle. Her past roles in “Wicked” and “Rent” set impossible expectations for her Academy Award performance, standards the steel-voiced artist could not expect to match.

It was a rough night for Menzel, but Jimmy Fallon played Superman and offered a solution to restore her cred by inviting her to perform live on “The Tonight Show” the following day. Menzel appeared on NBC to sing an acoustic version of “Let it Go” with Fallon and The Roots, equipped with hilarious instruments such as a triangle, building blocks, a xylophone and so on.

It was definitely no mistake to have Menzel grace the Oscars this year. Her performance wasn’t solid, but she redeemed herself with Jimmy Fallon the next day. Frankly, I would have enjoyed the giggling, triangle-playing Menzel instead of the statue-esque creature that appeared clad in elegance on-screen.

She is still a fantastic singer and doesn’t deserve to be ripped into for having an off performance, especially since she didn’t have the easiest song choice and faced myriad distractions. She is entitled to be human more than a performance slave, after all.