From Rihanna To Lady Gaga, Get To Know The Oscars Best Original Songs

All five nominees are worthy of your 'Applause'

Cinematic excellence is not only projected onscreen; sometimes it blares out of the theater’s speakers and into our ears and hearts. Some of the most affecting moments in films are often those led by a song, and the artists who create those songs specifically for the movie are can be tasked with perfectly encapsulating the essence of the film. The Academy Award for Best Original Song rewards their efforts, and it has the potential to popularize said song beyond the confines of just the cinematic world.

This year’s nominees touch on different corners of the globe, and each has taken a unique journey to this moment. Among them are a full-fledged global brand, a legendary songwriter and producer gunning for her first-ever Oscar trophy, a barrier-breaker whose evolutionary presence has been one to marvel at, a Golden Globe-winning composer who is a major staple in India’s Tollywood scene, and a musical trio that were perfect for their task at hand.

But only one can win. Before the Oscars ceremony on March 12, here is a rundown of the nominees.

"Lift Me Up" performed by Rihanna, from 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'

Rihanna’s return to the public eye can be summarized in one word: blockbuster. Riding high off a highly praised performance at the Super Bowl halftime show,  she now has the chance to continue her comeback by potentially nabbing her first Oscar. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is also a blockbuster itself that has garnered five nominations. “Lift Me Up,” which was co-written by director Ryan Coogler, Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems, and composer Ludwig Göransson, is a standard ballad that carries a special meaning, doubling as a touching tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, who played T'Challa in the first Black Panther film. Rihanna’s vocals remain front and center on the track and in the accompanying cinematic music video directed by Autumn Durald Arkapaw. The song is a celebration of the best of us both on earth and in the afterlife.

"Applause" performed by Sofia Carson, from 'Tell It Like a Woman'

Tell It Like a Woman was likely the least-seen nominee in this category, but the Diane Warren-penned “Applause,” sung by Descendants star Sofia Carson, was inescapable. Warren is no stranger to the Oscars — she has 14 nominations but no wins yet — and she has been the creative force behind some of the biggest hits for Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Aerosmith, Toni Braxton, and Lady Gaga (all of which earned nods for Best Original Song). In keep debuted with its pulsating mixture of guitar and violins that gives Generation X a walk down memory lane and Millennials/Gen Z a face they could recognize.  The generation-spanning song shows that classics only grow in stature over time.ourself some love ‘cause you’ve earned it.” Warren and Carson are set to perform the song live at the ceremony.

"Hold My Hand" performed by Lady Gaga, from 'Top Gun: Maverick'

In 2019, Lady Gaga notched her first Oscar in this category for “Shallow,” her twangy team-up with Bradley Cooper in the re-adaptation of A Star is Born. This time around, she’s in the running for her powerful vocals in “Hold My Hand,” from Top Gun: Maverick, the 21st-century sequel that became the second highest-grossing film of 2022. The song, co-written with BloodPop, harkens back to the power ballads of the 1980s, when the original Top Gun debuted, with its pulsating mixture of guitar and violins that give Generation X a walk down memory lane and Millennials/Gen Z a face they can recognize.  The generation-spanning song shows that classics only grow in stature over time.

"Naatu Naatu" performed by Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava, from 'RRR'

Perhaps the nominee with the most infectious sound that compels you to get up on your feet, “Naatu Naatu” — with music by prominent Indian composer M.M. Keeravaani and lyrics by Chandrabose — has a musical theater element to it against the backdrop of a traditional Southern Indian folk sound. That blend helped Indian epic RRR land its only Oscar nomination. RRR tells the fictional story of two Indian revolutionaries who take on British colonization in the 1920s and was a massive hit in India, partly because of this song, a dance number that has been able to generate buzz on TikTok with users creating their own choreography.

"This is a Life" by Son Lux, David Byrne and Mitski, from 'Everything Everywhere All at Once'

The most mellowed track out of the bunch, “This is a Life” contains aspects of alternative indie rock along with orchestral production that makes it perfectly suited for the cinematic experience. Like Everything Everywhere All at Once itself, the song — led by sparse vocals from indie hero Mitski and David Byrne — addresses a longing for happiness and peace against the backdrop of a chaotic world. Ryan Lott of the experimental rock group Son Lux adds dimensionality to it through the nearly ambient instrumental, and by doing so, the song fuses the past, present, and future. It’s a multiverse in under three minutes.

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