Pharrell Williams, U2 rock Oscars music rehearsals
In this Feb. 16, 2014 file photo, Pharrell Williams rehearses before the NBA All Star basketball game in New Orleans. The producer-rapper-singer’s tune “Happy” is nominated for best original song at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014. Days ahead, the upbeat anthem has climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (AP / Bill Haber)
Sandy Cohen, The Associated Press
Published Saturday, March 1, 2014 9:00AM EST
LOS ANGELES -- Having the nation's No. 1 song does not exempt an artist from Oscar rehearsals.
Pharrell Williams ran through his catchy hit "Happy" more than half a dozen times Friday in preparation for the Oscar telecast. He even shared the spotlight with a spate of stars: Jamie Foxx, Brad Pitt and Kate Hudson showed up to rehearse while he was on stage.
All I care about is the fun," Williams said to Hudson, who boogied in the audience as he practiced his dance-heavy number. A choir of high-school students and 20 professional dancers accompany his colorful performance.
Also rehearsing Friday: Broadway star Idina Menzel, who's set to sing "Let It Go" from animated film nominee "Frozen"; U2, which is nominated for its song from the Mandela movie, "Ordinary Love"; and rocker Karen O, who is nominated for "The Moon Song" from best-picture nominee "Her."
Menzel was awed by the technology that allowed the Oscar orchestra, playing off-site at the Capitol Records building, to co-ordinate with her live at the Dolby Theatre.
"Hi, Bill, can you hear me?" she said into the microphone at conductor William Ross, whom she could see on a monitor from inside the theatre. "I'm trying to get that telepathic vibe with you because I'm alone up here and this is my first time (on the Oscars).
"You look very handsome," she added.
Karen O, front woman of the rock band Yeah Yeah Yeah's, took notes from director Spike Jonze as she practiced her performance, "The Moon Song" from his best-picture nominee, "Her."
"Spike just asked me to hold the mic a little bit lower, so I need a little more level," she told a sound engineer. Jonze sat in a front-row seat in the audience.
Accompanied by Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig on acoustic guitar, O sang the song again and again, sitting on a corner of the stage in a long floral dress, leather motorcycle jacket and killer blue boots.
Williams arrived wearing a polka-dot jacket, patterned scarf and his trademark hat.
He ditched the chapeau for rehearsals, emerging onstage in just a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. He danced through the audience, pausing to shake hands with show producer Craig Zadan, saying, "Thanks for having me."
Foxx arrived in the middle of Williams' rehearsal. He quickly joined the dancers on stage, much to their amusement, pretending to stretch alongside them and offering unneeded dramatic direction.
"Walk, walk, curiosity! And retreat," he said to a chorus of laughter.
U2 also wasn't above rehearsals, running through their nominated song "Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" late into the night.