Who but Rihanna could effectively disappear from music for more than half a decade, only to launch a quiet but impactful grand return in the form of two songs created for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack and then earn her first-ever Academy Award nomination for one of the tracks?
“Lift Me Up,” the song that plays during the closing credits of Marvel’s latest giant, has been nominated for Best Original Song at the 2023 Oscars. Rihanna will be up against Lady Gaga and Bloodpop for “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick; Dianna Warren for “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman; David Byrne, Son Lux, and Mitski for “This is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once; and Kala Bhairava, M. M. Keeravani, Rahul Sipligunj for “Naatu Naatu” from RRR.
“Naatu Naatu” earned a notable nomination of its own, becoming the first-ever song from an Indian film to be nominated for Best Original Song. Earlier this month, the song was nominated at the 2023 Golden Globes for Best Original Song alongside tracks from Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Roeben Katz with Guillermo del Toro – and it won.
“I’m very much overwhelmed with this great moment happening,” Keeravani said upon accepting the award. “It’s been an age-old practice to say that this award actually belongs to someone else. So I was planning to not say those words when I get an award like this, but I’m sorry to say I’m going to repeat the tradition because I mean my words.” He went on the share thanks with the film’s cast and crew.
Rihanna’s history of soundtrack cuts is brief but includes “As Real As You and Me” and “Dancing in the Dark” from the 2015 animated film Home and “Sledgehammer” from 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. “Born Again,” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, followed the release of “Lift Me Up.”