When Billie Eilish performs at the Oscars this weekend, she’ll follow a long line of music superstars — like Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Adele — who have graced the famed Hollywood stage. There’s only one pop luminary, however, who’s dominated the awards show so completely in a single year: Beyoncé.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the amazingly Bey-centric Oscars, which touched down in Los Angeles on February 27, 2005. Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator were the evening’s big winners, but perhaps the most show-stopping presence was Beyoncé, who performed not one, not two, but three of the numbers nominated for Best Original Song — despite not originally singing any of them.
At the time, Beyoncé had begun the dissolution of Destiny’s Child and released one solo album. She’d flexed her acting chops a bit, thanks to Carmen: A Hip Hopera and Austin Powers in Goldmember, but she was still a year removed from her dazzling role in Dreamgirls. She was just 23 years old, but on that night’s Oscars red carpet, she held her own amongst the Hollywood elite in a luxurious Atelier Versace gown. Simple, but stunning.
Beyoncé was, of course, also in a high-profile relationship with Jay-Z, whom she’d gone public with the year prior. Together, they attended their first-ever Oscars looking like a legit “It” couple — even with Jay’s poorly fitted suit (sorry; it had to be said).
In a red-carpet interview before the show, Beyoncé gushed, “I can’t believe I’m here. … I just keep saying that because it’s so surreal to me. I know it’s never been done, to perform three times. And for it to me, I’m not worthy. I can’t wait to perform. I’m just excited to be here.” (Yeesh… imagine thinking Bey’s not worthy?!)
The singer predicted that she would be “terrified” before getting onstage, but you’d never know it from her trio of performances. First up was “Vois Sur Ton Chemin” from the French film Les Choristes. Because she’s nothing short of a Renaissance woman, Bey sang the song in its original French, wearing a colorful dress she probably wouldn’t be caught dead in today, and accompanied by dozens of bowtie-wearing choir boys.
Next, Beyoncé dialed up the drama for her rendition of “Learn to Be Lonely” from Phantom of the Opera, originally sung for the film by Minnie Driver. She was accompanied by Phantom composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on the piano, as well as approximately 52 pounds of diamonds, which sparkled against another black gown that she wore for the occasion. The titular phantom even appeared at one point to guide her down a staircase, which we later found out was quite the stressful experience for Bey.
“I’m trying to remember the words and my ear monitor’s turned off ― and my shoe is off of my foot, actually, inside of the dress,” Beyoncé later revealed in a 2005 interview with Oprah Winfrey. “So, I’m on one toe and I’m in one heel, walking down the stairs and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, shoe, please stay in my dress!'”
After that near disaster, Beyoncé pulled herself together for one last performance. This time, she shared the stage with Josh Groban for a duet of “Believe” from The Polar Express. Groban performed that song solo in the animated holiday flick, so Bey’s addition probably wasn’t 100 percent necessary. But at that point, the Oscars audience had certainly warmed up to her, so hey, why not?! Looking like a winter queen in a glittering strapless gown, she traded vocals with Groban before the unlikely pair harmonized on the chorus, convincing us all to “give our dreams the wings to fly.”
Ultimately, all three of the numbers Beyoncé performed lost the Best Original Song award; that distinction went to “Al Otro Lado Del Río” from The Motorcycle Diaries. But no matter — Bey and Jay were more than ready to hit the afterparty circuit that night. After the show, they stepped out for Vanity Fair‘s notorious Oscar party, with Beyoncé pulling off yet another costume change. She wore a beautiful baby-blue Roberto Cavalli dress for the occasion, and narrowly dodged yet another wardrobe malfunction.
“I was at a party and I sat down, and the boning curved because I was sitting down,” she explained in the Oprah interview. “On my way out, all the paparazzi were still outside and I said, ‘Oh my god, they’re going to say that I’m pregnant.'”
Beyoncé certainly wasn’t expecting at the time — Blue Ivy, Rumi, and Sir would come much, much later — so she just smiled and clutched the back of her dress to pull the fabric taut, as she and Jay made their quick exit. “I’m holding it the whole time!” she told Oprah, laughing.
Beyoncé would go on to perform at the Oscars two more times: In 2007, she joined her Dreamgirls costars for a medley of the flick’s three nominated numbers, and in 2009, she joined host Hugh Jackman for an epic parade of movie musical hits. But we’ll certainly never forget that bustling and dramatic Oscars debut, where she definitely proved herself worthy.