With the whole world still buzzing about her gravity-defying Super Bowl Halftime performance, Rihanna is set to conquer another big stage. On Thursday, Oscars executive producers/showrunners Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner announced that the Grammy winner will perform her nominated song “Lift Me Up” at the awards show. RiRi is the first major performer or presenter announced for the Oscars, signaling that the show wants to attract a bigger audience than it has over the last two years.
“Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is nominated for Best Original Song, with Rihanna cited alongside Nigerian singer/songwriter Tems, writer/director Ryan Coogler and the film’s composer Ludwig Goransson. After the audience has followed Shuri, Ramonda, Nakia and the people of Wakanda through their grief over losing T’Challa, the song plays at the end of the movie as Shuri finally allows herself to truly feel her brother’s passing.
Coogler envisioned the song as a beautiful tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman and that’s exactly what we got. During an interview with Complex, Tems explained that she approached the song as “a warm embrace from all the people that I’ve lost in my life.”
“I tried to imagine what it would feel like if I could sing to them now and express how much I miss them,” Tems said. “Rihanna has been an inspiration to me so hearing her convey this song is a great honor.”
This year’s Best Original Song category is quite the star-studded affair, which means we could get some cool performances on Oscar night. Other nominees include: “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman, written by 13-time nominee Diane Warren and performed by Sofia Carson; “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick with music and lyrics by Lady Gaga and BloodPop, and performed by Lady Gaga; “This Is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once with music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne, and Mitski, lyrics by Ryan Lott and David Byrne, and performed by Son Lux featuring Mitski and David Byrne; and the current frontrunner “Naatu Naatu” from RRR with music by M. M. Keeravani, lyrics by Chandrabose and performed by Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava.
Now that it’s been confirmed that Rihanna is definitely performing at The Oscars, we can turn our attention to the real question: what will she wear? We know she’ll bring it on the red carpet, but what vibe will she bring to the stage? Will she go for classic elegance with a gorgeous gown, or will she tap into Wakanda’s afrofuturism sensibilities? Stay tuned.
The 95th Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, airs live Sunday, March 12 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.