Rihanna raised the bar for Oscars performances with the on-stage debut of her Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack cut, “Lift Me Up,” which was in contention for Best Original Song at the night’s proceedings.
Poised at the front of the stage, Rihanna was joined by a crew of backing musicians in a Wakanda-inspired set. Marking the singer’s second live performance after years away, “Lift Me Up” allowed the artist to remind us of her vocal chops, as opposed to her never-forgotten stage presence. When she finished the track, Rihanna was met with a deserved standing ovation.
The Wakanda Forever standout single, which earned our Song of the Week distinction when it dropped in October 2022, received its proper live debut in primetime after it was shockingly left off of RiRi’s Super Bowl Halftime Show setlist, though there were still plenty of surprises throughout her heights-defying, pregnancy-revealing, all-hits hosting job.
The intimate, vocal showcase ballad was written by Rihanna, with Tems, Ludwig Göransson, and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, as a tribute to the superhero smash’s late lead actor, Chadwick Boseman. Göransson, who also produced the track and wrote the score for both Black Panther film entries, previously won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2019 for his work on the original Wakanda-based blockbuster.
Revisit our review of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and find all of our Oscars coverage here.
Rihanna performs "Lift Me Up" at the #Oscars. https://t.co/ndiKiHfmID pic.twitter.com/cyESzOZnmm— Variety (@Variety) March 13, 2023