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Rihanna, “Lift Me Up” Track Review

Grammy-winning artist Rihanna makes a lovely return with “Lift Me Up,” the promo single from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music From and Inspired By.

Rihanna at the premiere of 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' in Los Angeles, California. Reuters

“Lift Me Up / Hold Me Down / Keep Me Close / Safe And Sound.”

After a lengthy hiatus – six years – 🏆 Grammy-winning R&B/pop artist 🎙Rihanna is back! 🎵 “Lift Me Up” isn’t a promo single for a new Rihanna album, but it does serve as a promo single from 💿 Blank Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music From and Inspired By.  Hey – we’re just glad Robin is back! She penned “Lift Me Up” alongside 🎼 ✍ 🎛  Ludwig Goransson (also produces), 🎼 ✍ Ryan Coogler, and 🎼 ✍ Temilade.  This return is special as Rihanna pays tribute to the late actor 🎭 Chadwick Boseman who starred in the lead role of the original Black Panther.

Given its tribute status, “Lift Me Up” is a ballad.  Rihanna has recorded her fair share of ballads, even if it’s her quicker records that tend to catch the ear the most.  Vocally, on “Lift Me Up,” she sounds utterly sublime.  Her lower register still has a bite and an edge that is stunning.  Her upper register, including some falsetto moments (for lack of a better word), is also quite impressive.  The backdrop by Ludwig Goransson is warm and feels like a proper memorial and tribute, much like the simple but thoughtful lyrics: “When you depart, keep me safe / Safe and sound.”

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The Fenty founder’s song Lift Me Up, from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack was released on Friday. The soft ballad is a tribute to the late actor Chadwick Boseman, who played T’Challa/Black Panther in the first film and died aged 43 from colon cancer in 2020.

“Lift me up. Hold me down. Keep me close. Safe and sound,” she sings. “Burning in a hopeless dream. Hold me when you go to sleep. Keep me in the warmth of your love when you depart. Keep me safe, safe and sound.”


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The track’s lyrics (“Lift me up / Hold me down / Keep me safe / Safe and sound”) are light and frankly anonymous, a far cry from the brilliant, world-weary, and starkly emotional lyrics of Anti.

It feels like a money talks kind of song: it’s telling that the only two things luring Rihanna away from fashion and cosmetics and back into music in the coming months are the Super Bowl half-time show and a Marvel film sure to be a mega-hit.

(There are indications that the industry, too, is holding out its hype for the “real” Rihanna return – Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist features the R&B singer SZA on its cover today, rather than Rihanna: basically an acknowledgment that this isn’t the “true” comeback single.)

The most notable feature of Lift Me Up is its writing credits: it was co-written by rising Nigerian alté star Tems, and you can hear her presence in the graceful and – for a Rihanna song – unusually ornamental verse melody. Still, there is little of the heft and power of Tems songs such as Free Mind or Damages in this track – just breezy harp, swelling strings and, faint in the background, the sound of a bunch of Marvel executives rubbing their hands together.

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Final Thoughts

While many probably anticipated or hope a Rihanna return would come in the form of a catchy, dance-oriented record, this ballad, 🎵 “Lift Me Up”, is incredibly beautiful.  Her voice just might be the biggest selling point as she sounds as great as ever.  The production is sweet, while the lyrics are moving.  “Lift Me Up” isn’t game-changing in the world of pop, but it is a strong return for an artist who dominated during her prime.

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