Rating the Oscars 2014 musical performances: From Pharrell to U2

As expected, “Frozen”s”  “Let It Go”  took home the Oscar for best original song, but who was the winner for best performance during the Academy Awards?

We rate the four Oscar-nominated performances as well as the two extra appearances by Pink and Bette Midler.

Pharrell Williams, “Happy,” “Despicable Me 2” (Written by Pharrell Williams): Yes, he brought the hat with him. Williams, whose new album comes out tomorrow, darted in-between Oscar statues giving the liveliest performance of the night. Jumping into the audience, he danced with Lupita Nyong”o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in the irrepressible tune.  Very clean-cut dancers surrounded Williams during the bouncy number. GRADE: A

Karen O, “The Moon Song,” “Her” ( Written by Karen O and Spike Jonze):
In a very stripped down, sweet performance, accompanied only by Vampire Weekend”s Ezra Koenig, Yeah Yeah Yeah”s  Karen O delivered a subtle,  understated performance that highlighted the loveliness of the song. It was a charming performance, added to by her taking off her shoes and setting them beside her.  GRADE: B

U2, “Ordinary Love,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (Written by U2): U2 is capable of giving transcendent performances and this was not one of them. The recorded version features a keyboard bed and a spiky electric guitar line that gives it an Edge (all puns intended) and the band”s decision to go unplugged here did the song, which is fairly weak to bend with,  no favors. Plus, Bono”s on-his-knees performance seemed more geared for an arena than the smaller theater.  GRADE: C

Idina Menzel,“Let It Go,” “Frozen” (Written by Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez): To her credit, Menzel wasn”t thrown off by John Travolta”s complete butchering of her name, but something seemed off with her performance, especially at the end. However, she hit a nice stride in the middle and showed why she is such a Broadway star.  GRADE: B-

Pink: Her mission remained a well-kept secret up until Whoopi Goldberg introduced her, using her real name Alecia Moore, in the salute to the 75th anniversary of  “The Wizard of Oz.” With Judy Garland”s three children looking on (and Liza Minelli seeming a little miffed that she didn”t get to do the honors), Pink performed a restrained, elegant version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow ” in a  glittery ruby red dress, similarly to Dorothy”s slippers. People tend to underestimate  Pink”s ability to sing what with her acrobatics and upbeat numbers, but she showed that she is a world class singer.  GRADE: B+

Bette Midler:  As part of the In Memoriam tribute after the names had scrolled by, Midler sang “Wing Beneath My Wings.” While lovely and Midler”s voice sounded great is on screen, it”s a good thing, but it added nothing but time to the evening and her flapping her arm like a wing at the end was a little strange. She got a standing ovation regardless for a lovely performance in a  GRADE: B