Following a chilling performance from Rihanna of “Lift Me Up” — the last best original song contender to be performed at the 2023 Oscars — it was finally time to announce the award. Together, Janelle Monáe and Kate Hudson announced the winner to be RRR‘s “Naatu Naatu.”
Composer M.M. Keeravani and artist-lyricist Chandrabose accepted the win — it was the first nomination for both. The global hit “Naatu Naatu” soundtracks the most vibrant and upbeat scene in the otherwise battle-filled film.
“I grew up listening to the Carpenters and now here I am with the Oscars,” Keeravani said with a wide grin. He then continued to sing-speak the rest of his acceptance speech, to the melody of the Carpenters’ 1973 hit “Top of the World,” before concluding: “I love you all!” As for Chandrabose, he had a one-word message: “Namaste.”
“Naatu Naatu” (an Indian Telugu-language song) is the first song performed in a language other than English to win in this category since “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire 14 years ago.
“Naatu Naatu” competed against “Applause” (Tell It Like a Woman, music and lyric by Diane Warren), “Hold My Hand” (Top Gun: Maverick, music and lyric by Lady Gaga and BloodPop), “Lift Me Up” (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, music by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Göransson and lyric by Tems and Coogler) and “This Is a Life” (Everything Everywhere All at Once, music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski; Lyric by Ryan Lott and David Byrne).
Keeravani previously told Billboard he was hoping to meet Rihanna at the Oscars. As for what’s next? He said: “I am looking forward to the world embracing more and more Indian songs, movies, stories and cultures. Not only from me, but from my fellow musicians, directors and movie-makers in India.”