Comeback Season: Rihanna and SZA Release Long-Awaited Singles

Last month, singer Rihanna released her new song Lift Me Up for the upcoming Black Panther movie. Fans speculate that her highly anticipated ninth album could be next. Photo Courtesy: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Rihanna is an entrepreneur, mother, musician and, as of 2018, an ambassador for Barbados. What can’t she do? Rihanna, whose legal name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, has been in the music industry since the release of her first album “Music of the Sun” in 2005. She’s been the soundtrack of the 2010’s with hits like “Umbrella,” “Diamonds,” “Love on The Brain” and more.

Fenty’s latest album, 2016’s “ANTI,” won an American Music Award for favorite soul/R&B album and an iHeartRadio Music Award for Album of the Year. “ANTI” was the first album by a Black woman to spend 300 weeks on the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. With no hints of releasing any new solo music for almost six years, fans speculated that she was done with the music scene altogether. Running her cosmetic company Fenty Beauty and her lingerie line Savage X Fenty, she’s a busy woman.

On Oct. 26, Fenty took to her Instagram for the long awaited announcement: she was releasing a new single. “Lift Me Up,” released on Oct. 28, appears on the upcoming soundtrack for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

The song is a stark contrast from the “ANTI” album, with its slow melodic production and Fenty’s long soothing tones. The track starts with strings and humming vocals. As the song builds up, it grows in emotion and power. She also released an entirely instrumental version which emphasizes the lullaby-like tune. “Lift Me Up” is reflective of the shock and sadness fans felt after “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman passed away. The music video features Fenty on a dusky beach and emotional shots from the highly anticipated movie. 

The “Black Panther” album includes 18 other original songs by Burna Boy, Stormzy and more. Another R&B star, SZA, who was featured on the 2018 Black Panther album, also released a long awaited single last month. “Shirt” features a heavy beat and glitchy drums in the production. Although SZA, or Solána Imani Rowe, officially released the track on Oct. 28, a sample of “Shirt” has been up on the app Tik Tok since October 2020. In the music video, Rowe and actor LaKeith Stanfield, her partner in crime, go on an adventurous murder spree. The campy costuming and special effects add to the spontaneous nature of the short film. Fans have been patiently waiting for a new album since her sophomore album “Ctrl” dropped in June 2017.

According to TMZ, Rowe says that she’s written 100 songs in the past five years and a new album is in the works, but she doesn’t want to rush anything. “I don’t even know what this album is about and what it sounds like, which is why I had to go to the mode of what feels good to my brain and to my energy and the songs that I think are hot, I just have to go with them,” she said during a recent interview with Complex.

Another Rihanna album is brewing as well. In February 2022, Fenty confirmed that fans will eventually get her reggae-inspired ninth album. For now, the album is on hold as she wants to focus on her fashion and beauty career — but fans can look forward to seeing her perform at the 2023 Super Bowl Halftime show.

About Remy Commisso 31 Articles
Remy is a second-year student from Rochester NY. When she’s not in the Oracle office, she’s listening to new music and having movie nights with friends. This is her third semester as a copy editor. You can reach her by emailing commissr2@newpaltz.edu.

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