The Bajan billionaire delivered a powerful rendition of her Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ballad during the 95th Academy Awards inside Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on Sunday night (March 12).
Accompanied by backup singers and a live band that included a string section, a pregnant RiRi glowed while stood on top of a straw podium, which literally lifted her up as her performance unfolded.
Rihanna’s set was met with a standing ovation from the star-studded audience, which included her boyfriend A$AP Rocky, who smiled from ear to ear and raised a glass of champagne to toast his talented partner.
The couple, who welcomed a son in May 2022, are expecting their second child together.
— Variety (@Variety) March 13, 2023
Asap Rocky said that’s my lady💅🏾. Cheers boo🥂 🥰 pic.twitter.com/NV5fscsjRC
— Nahla outside (@NahlaSth) March 13, 2023
Dedicated to the late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who died of cancer aged 43 in August 2020, “Lift Me Up” was nominated for Best Original Song, marking Rihanna’s first Oscar nomination.
However, the song lost out to M. M. Keeravani, Chandrabose, Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava’s “Naatu Naatu,” from the Indian film RRR.
Rihanna’s Oscars performance comes exactly one month after she made her return to the stage by headlining the Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The almost 20-minute medley saw RiRi run through her catalog of hits, including “Bitch Better Have My Money,” “Work,” “Umbrella” and “Diamonds,” as well as Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” and JAY-Z’s “Run This Town.”
It was during that performance that the Fenty mogul first unveiled her baby bump, with her representative later confirming that she is indeed pregnant with baby number two.
Despite earning over $350,000 in song royalties thanks to a surge in streams, Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance wasn’t well received by everyone. As reported last month, her halftime show drew over 100 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) complaints, with many deeming it “pornographic.”
Kodak Black, who was in attendance at the Super Bowl, echoed former president Donald Trump’s brutal criticism by calling her performance “garbage.”
In any case, Rihanna’s loyal fanbase, the Navy, continues to not-so-patiently await her ninth album, which will serve as the follow-up to 2016’s ANTI.
In an interview with British Vogue last month, the 35-year-old hinted at the project arriving this year, saying: “I want it to be this year. Like, honestly, it’d be ridiculous if it’s not this year. But I just want to have fun. I just want to make music and make videos.”
She previously told Apple Music that she has been experimenting in the studio and her new material may take fans by surprise.
“Musically, I’m feeling open,” she said. “I’m feeling open to exploring, discovering, creating, things that are new, things that are different, things that are off, weird, might not ever make sense to my fans, you know, the people that know the music that I put out. I just want to play. I want to have fun. I want to have fun with music.”