Rihanna slayed at the 2023 Oscars on Sunday with a classy performance of her soulful ballad “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She didn’t win the Oscar for best original song – the award went to “Naatu Naatu” from RRR – but RiRi will likely have more chances to win for the song at next year’s Grammy Awards.

“Lift Me Up,” which Rihanna co-wrote with Tems, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Göransson, is a front-runner for a nomination for best song written for visual media.

“Lift Me Up” could also wind up with record and/or song of the year nominations. Rihanna has been nominated for record of the year three times, for “Umbrella” (featuring Jay-Z), “Work” (featuring Drake) and as featured artist on Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie.”

If “Lift Me Up” is nominated for song of the year, it would mark Rihanna’s first nod in that category. Her only songwriting nods to date are for “Run This Town,” which won best rap song, and “Kiss It Better,” which was nominated for best R&B song.

“Lift Me Up” will also probably be nominated in a performance category – either best R&B performance or best traditional R&B performance. (The final decision on where to slot performances that seem to be on the border between two categories is made by a large screening committee. They base their decision on the sound of the performance, as they perceive it, not chart position or the artist’s image.)

Rihanna has been nominated in R&B performance categories twice, for “Needed Me” and “Hate That I Love You,” a 2007 collab with Ne-Yo. She has yet to be nominated for best traditional R&B performance.

“All the Stars,” from the first Black Panther, was nominated for Grammys in four categories (though it didn’t win in any of them). The smash by Kendrick Lamar featuring SZA was nominated for record and song of the year, best rap/sung performance and best song written for visual media.

The Recording Academy announced earlier this month that the eligibility year for the 66th annual Grammy Awards will end on Aug. 31, one month earlier than usual. So the eligibility “year” will consist of just 11 months.

Rihanna may or may not release her long-awaited ninth studio album by Aug. 31 – she has another “project” in the works just now – which would change the Grammy conversation around her. Rihanna’s best year at the Grammys in terms of nominations was 2016, when she amassed eight nods. (Alas, she lost them all.)

The early front-runners for record of the year nominations, in addition to “Lift Me Up,” include Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero,” SZA’s “Kill Bill” and Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers.”

This wouldn’t be the first time “Anti-Hero” and “Lift Me Up” have tangled. By holding at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a second week last November, Swift’s smash kept Rihanna’s ballad from debuting in the top spot and becoming her 15th No. 1 single. Instead, “Lift Me Up” debuted and peaked at No. 2. “Anti-Hero” went on to log eight total weeks at No. 1 – the record for a Swift single.

Paul Grein
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