For the last couple of weeks, before and since Rihanna’s performance at the Fenty Bowl, I’ve been wondering about the Oscars. “Lift Me Up”, from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, was not part of her halftime setlist. And that made sense, since it’s been nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars. The question was whether or not Rihanna would attend and perform. Yesterday, the Academy confirmed it - exactly a month after the Fenty Bowl, Rihanna will once again take the stage and sing.
Rihanna’s presence at the Oscars is not that much of a surprise as the timing of the announcement that she will be present at the Oscars. This is kinda early for the Academy. They typically don’t roll out their celebrity guest lists until a little closer to the show. That said, given the hype that preceded Rihanna’s halftime performance, it’s understandable that the Oscars would want to capitalise on securing Rihanna and hype that up as much as possible to see if they can bring up their ratings. And if Rihanna herself accepted the invitation this quickly, why not brag about it if you’re the Academy.
This will be Rihanna’s first ever live performance of “Lift Me Up”, an emotional song that is inextricably linked to the loss of both Chadwick Boseman and King T’Challa. It’ll be interesting to see where the Academy situates it in the show rundown.
But as amazing as it is that we’ll see Rihanna at the Oscars, even though she’s one of the biggest superstars in the world, “Lift Me Up” hasn’t been the frontrunner in the Best Original Song category. That may change, of course, with the buzz that’s followed her halftime show, but most experts, including Sarah, still have “Naatu Naatu” from RRR in the lead. As Sarah has already noted, “Naatu Naatu” anchors one of the most euphoric cinematic moments of the year – and the song, unlike so many Best Original Song contenders, not just this year but in most years, is actually part of the film, and not just the opening or final credits.
There’s a whole scene in RRR built around “Naatu Naatu” and the film’s two lead actors, Ram Charan and NT Rama Rao Jr., feature prominently in it. So if you’re a purist, and you’re voting by measure not just of song quality but how a song becomes part of the infrastructure and the spirit of the film, no other nominee this year does as much as “Naatu Naatu”. “Naatu Naatu” actually does THE MOST.
And, yes, “Naatu Naatu” will be performed at the Oscars, as confirmed by composers MM Keeravani and Chandrabose – it will be a SPECTACLE!
M.M. Keeravaani and Chandrabose tease what fans can expect from #RRR's "Naatu Naatu" Oscar performance. #AcademyLuncheon https://t.co/i5wEon5eiV pic.twitter.com/Bj1OKgZMr8— Variety (@Variety) February 13, 2023
Will Ram Charan and NT Rama Rao Jr. be a part of it? I mean, I hope so, but that detail is not yet confirmed. While we’re here though…
Can we talk about Ram Charan? Sarah and have shared several thirsty texts back and forth about his crazy ass hotness. If you’ve seen RRR you understand what we’re talking about. Ram was interviewed this week on ABC and he talked about the song nomination and what it would mean to him and to the entire cast and crew if it wins. He also reminisces about shooting part of the film, specifically the “Naatu Naatu” scene. That’s right – the scene featuring the frontrunner for Best Original Song at the Oscars from a Tollywood film was filmed in Kyiv at Mariinsky Palace, just three months before the attack on Ukraine which happened exactly a year ago today.
Also, Mariinsky Palace is the official residence of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has become a regular at Hollywood award shows (often introduced by Sean Penn). Will that be a factor at the Oscars this year if President Zelenskyy makes another appearance?
#RRR star @AlwaysRamCharan sits down with @ReeveWill to discuss the popularity of the Tollywood film and the viral Oscar-nominated song, "Naatu Naatu."— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) February 24, 2023
#RRRMovie @RRRMovie pic.twitter.com/0dJeoS6v86