Eminem performs onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California.

Eminem performs onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images/TNS)

LOS ANGELES - Eminem put in a surprise appearance at Sunday's Academy Awards to perform his song "Lose Yourself."

Why?

Because the aspirational rap-rock song, from director Curtis Hanson's sort-of-biopic "8 Mile," won an Oscar for best original song in 2003.

Because, as Eminem pointed out in a tweet after the performance, he didn't attend that year's ceremony. ("Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity," he wrote, riffing on the tune's signature lyric. "Sorry it took me 18 years to get here.")

But mostly, of course, the Detroit MC was there because he has a new record to promote: "Music to Be Murdered By," which came out (also without warning!) last month and debuted atop the Billboard 200 - his 10th straight LP to enter the chart at No. 1.

His performance, for which the rapper was backed by a live band and a string section, was fine; it did what Eminem's music used to do before he turned into the music's crustiest provocateur.

But the real action was in the audience, where ABC's roving cameras caught a succession of priceless reaction shots from the likes of Idina Menzel (who looked frightened), Martin Scorsese (who looked glazed) and Billie Eilish (who looked like she was wondering who'd invited her science teacher).

After the song, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson ran backstage and excitedly hugged the producers of this year's show, according to The Times' Amy Kaufman.

"The energy in this room is like this!" Hudson told the producers.

"Best-kept secret," said one of them, Lynette Howell Taylor.

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

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