Billie Eilish performs ‘Yesterday’ as Oscars In Memoriam remembers Kobe Bryant, Kirk Douglas

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish performs “Yesterday” during the Oscars’ “In Memoriam” sequence
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

To memorialize those who’ve left Hollywood behind, the Oscars turned to music’s brightest new hope.

Billie Eilish — the 18-year-old pop star who just swept the Grammy Awards — sang the Beatles’ ”Yesterday” during the annual “In Memoriam” sequence honoring the movie industry’s dearly departed at Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Accompanied by her brother and collaborator Finneas O’Connell on piano, Eilish sang the classic Paul McCartney ballad with a tasteful restraint that contrasted with her long black fingernails and signature neon-green hair. As the siblings performed, a list of late “legends and icons” — as Steven Spielberg described them in his introduction — rolled across the screen, starting with Kobe Bryant, the beloved Lakers star who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, and ending with Kirk Douglas, who died last week at age 103; between them came mentions of Rip Torn, Diahann Carroll, Robert Forster, Andre Previn, Doris Day, Peter Fonda, John Singleton and many others.


Eilish’s high-profile performance came shortly after her triumphant showing at last month’s Grammys, where the proudly eccentric singer from Highland Park walked away with music’s four most prestigious prizes — album, record and song of the year, along with best new artist — in recognition of her smash 2019 debut, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” It marked just the second time in the Grammys’ 62-year history that one artist took those prizes in a single night.

As at the Grammys, where Eilish performed her slow-and-low “When the Party’s Over,” the singer went for a ballad at the Oscars, the better to show off her traditionally supple voice — and to flatter the old-school tastes of the show-biz establishment.