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Lift her up: Rihanna follows show-stopping Super Bowl gig with Oscars performance

A pregnant woman wearing red and singing into a microphone
Rihanna performs during the halftime show at the NFL Super Bowl LVII football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 12.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)
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The Super Bowl LVII halftime show was clearly not enough for Rihanna and certainly not enough for her Navy of fans. The music superstar and her newly revealed baby bump will take the stage at the 95th Academy Awards next month to perform her Oscar-nominated song “Lift Me Up,” show producers announced Thursday.

The announcement kicks off what’s expected to be a star-studded lineup for the annual awards ceremony, with additional talent, performers and presenters expected to be announced in the coming weeks, according to executive producers and showrunners Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner. Oscar-nominated songs are typically performed during the telecast, and Rihanna is the first to be announced in this year’s slate.

“Lift me up / Hold me down / Keep me close / Safe and sound.” Writer-director Ryan Coogler wrote these opening lines for his film’s original song.

Feb. 21, 2023

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RiRi’s original song, which hails from Marvel’s best picture nominee “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” marks the nine-time Grammy Awards winner’s first Academy Award nomination. Rihanna is up for the award along with Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems, director Ryan Coogler and Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson. Their song will face off in the category with “Applause” from “Tell It like a Woman,” “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR” and “This Is a Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

The “Work” and “Umbrella” hitmaker made a splash in Arizona when she took the multiple levitating stages during the Super Bowl LVII halftime show earlier this month. Singing a medley of her hits but leaving out “Wakanda Forever’s” power ballad, the singer ultimately stole the show by sparking the evening’s biggest talking point: Did she just reveal that she’s pregnant again? Indeed, she did, later confirming through a representative that she and rapper ASAP Rocky were expecting baby No. 2.

Nomination aside, Oscars showrunners are probably banking on Rihanna’s Navy and her proclivity for built-in shock value to bolster this year’s telecast, which follows last year’s slap-eclipsed ceremony. While awards shows have seen a steep decline in viewership, the 94th Academy Awards snapped the Oscars out of its years-long tailspin due mostly in part to “King Richard” star Will Smith unexpectedly striking comedian and presenter Chris Rock during the show.

Midway through our most masculine annual event, Rihanna turned the conversation to pregnancy, female body image, social protocols and, of course, Rihanna.

Feb. 13, 2023

While the best actor winner’s unscripted outburst and subsequent acceptance speech increased the globally televised show’s audience, Bill Kramer, the chief executive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, on Tuesday told Time that they would be installing a “crisis team” to help manage the response to any unexpected incidents during the awards show. The slap seen ‘round the world “opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars,” Kramer said.

“These crisis plans — the crisis communication teams and structures we have in place — allow us to say this is the group that we have to gather very quickly,” he said. “This is how we all come together. This is the spokesperson. This will be the statement. And obviously depending on the specifics of the crisis, and let’s hope something doesn’t happen and we never have to use these, but we already have frameworks in place that we can modify.”

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The 95th Academy Awards, hosted for the third time by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, will air live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 12.

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