The day that Rihanna’s fans have been waiting for has finally arrived. On Friday (Oct. 28), Rihanna, 34, made her eagerly-anticipated return to music with the release of “Lift Me Up,” the lead single from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack. Arriving weeks after the NFL announced Rihanna as the headliner of the Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show, “Lift Me Up” marks the first new Rihanna track in over six years. The deeply emotional and moving song had a spiritual feel to it, inspired by church music with piano and harp elements.
“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,” she sings in the first verse of the song, produced by Oscar winner Ludwig Goransson. “Lift me up/Hold me down/Keep me close/Safe and sound,” she then sings in the chorus of the down tempo track.
“Lift Me Up” was written in tribute “to the extraordinary life and legacy of Chadwick Boseman” by Tems, Goransson, Rihanna, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler, according to the press release sent out to herald the new song. The song was recorded in five countries and was produced by Göransson. “After speaking with Ryan and hearing his direction for the film and the song, I wanted to write something that portrays a warm embrace from all the people that I’ve lost in my life,” said Tems. “I tried to imagine what it would feel like if I could sing to them now and express how much I miss them. Rihanna has been an inspiration to me so hearing her convey this song is a great honor.”
lift me up
— Rihanna (@rihanna) October 26, 2022
Rihanna’s last single as the lead artist came in 2016. That year, she dropped her eighth studio album, Anti and she released “Sledgehammer,” a single for the Star Trek Beyond soundtrack. Rih put out a handful of promotional singles into 2017 and worked with a few artists over the next year or so. She lent her vocals to N.E.R.D.’s “Lemon,” Future’s “Selfish,” to DJ Khaled for “Wild Thoughts” (featuring Bryson Tiller), and to PartyNextDoor’s 2020 song “Believe It.”
The announcement of “Lift Me Up” resulted in Rihanna being the top Twitter trend for hours, as fans were ecstatic that they finally were getting new music. To say fans want a new album is an understatement. The six-year span between Anti and now marks the longest that Rihanna’s NAVY has gone between albums, as she would usually release a new LP every two years. The hype has, in some cases, turned rude. “If one of y’all motherf-ckers ask me about the album one more time when I’m trying to save the world […] ….on sight,” she said in April 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, her music career has taken a backseat to surviving the coronavirus pandemic, her growing fashion and beauty empire, as well as to her newborn son. But, during her pregnancy, Rih gave fans a hint that the album is coming.
“I’m looking at my next project completely differently from the way I had wanted to put it out before. I think this way suits me better, a lot better,” she told Vogue in 2022. “It’s authentic, it’ll be fun for me, and it takes a lot of the pressure off.”