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The controversy leading up to the Oscars continues to follow the annual ceremony after Chris Rock opened and closed his hosting duties to the tune of Public Enemy’s anthem, “Fight the Power.” Some have questioned the song choice, prompting music supervisor Byron Phillips to speak up on the matter.
“[We wanted to] really set the tone for what the night was going to be and do something that was representative of Chris, and who Chris was, and the vibe and tone Chris wanted to set for the evening,” Phillips tells Entertainment Weekly. “There was obviously nothing more perfect than ‘Fight the Power’ for that.”
The song, originally written for Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, wasn’t the only music Phillips was considering: he also wanted to play the theme song from the landmark 1971 film Shaft, written and performed by Isaac Hayes.
“[‘Fight the Power’ is] such an anthem for our generation that it made more sense to, first of all, have a contemporary feel, and just [for] the association with what you think of when you think of Chris,” Phillips explains.
Ultimately, Rock agreed “Fight the Power” more was fitting. “I really had a debate whether or not Chris wanted to come out that aggressively with it,” Phillips says about the song choice. But Rock encouraged going with Public Enemy’s signature song.
”[Rock] was like, ‘Nuh-uh, I want to do ‘Fight the Power’,” says Phillips. “There was no hesitation.”
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