“I wrote this song with my friend BloodPop for the film Top Gun: Maverick in my studio basement. It’s deeply personal for me and I think that we all need each other,” the singer, 36, said before her surprise performance. “We need a lot of love to walk through this life and we all need a hero. Sometimes there’s heroes all around us in unassuming places. But you might find that you can be your own hero — even if you feel broken inside.”
Gaga went on to sing a chilling rendition of the track, which was nominated for Best Original Song. During her performance, the Academy Award nominee swapped out her formal black Versace gown for a simple T-shirt and jeans. She also opted for a fresh-faced look after walking the red carpet in bright red lipstick.
The stunning performance comes after a producer for the awards show previously announced she would not be in attendance due to prior work commitments.
“We have great relationships with Lady Gaga and her camp [but] she’s in the middle of shooting a movie right now, and here we are honoring the movie industry and what it takes to make a movie,” Oscars producer Glenn Weiss said on Wednesday, March 8, during the Oscars Creative Team press conference, referring to the singer’s role in the Joker sequel Folie à Deux. “After a bunch of back and forth, it didn’t feel like she can get a performance to the caliber that we’re used to with her, that she’s used to and all that stuff.”
However, hours before Sunday’s show it was confirmed that Gaga would be attending the biggest night in Hollywood after all.
Gaga is nominated for her collaboration with BloodPop and Benjamin Rice on the song “Hold My Hand” for the Top Gun: Maverick soundtrack. The other Best Original Song nominees include Diane Warren‘s “Applause,” Rihanna‘s “Lift Me Up,” M. M. Keeravani‘s “Naatu Naatu” and Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski‘s “This is Life.”
Top Gun: Maverick lead Tom Cruise previously praised Gaga for the role she played in bringing the emotional track to life.
“With every film, score is incredibly important, and in a Top Gun movie, it was like, ‘What is that?’ Everything was like, ‘How do you top it?’ And I was like, ‘I’m not going to try to top it. I just want to be authentic to the story we’re telling,’” Cruise, 60, recalled in May 2022 during an interview with CinemaBlend. “And when Gaga came in with that song — you know, we had Lorne Balfe who produced it and Hans Zimmer. I’ve known since Rain Man. I brought him in on Rain Man and Days of Thunder. And Harold Faltermeyer, of course, I knew from the first Top Gun.”
The actor continued: “So you have all of these elements — and then Gaga came in with this song — it became our score. It became the heartbeat of the film, what she did. And I called her and said, ‘I don’t think you understand, emotionally…’ I was so concerned, until I heard that piece. And I knew that that piece, what it does, how it married [to] our story emotionally. So that was a moment. That was a real moment for all of us.”
Meanwhile, director Joseph Kosinski revealed he was initially nervous to hear Gaga’s song for the movie.
“It was nerve-racking to hear that song for the first time,” he told Insider that same month. “We went over to the record label, and you’re almost afraid you’re not going to like it, because how do you say no thank you to Lady Gaga?”
Kosinski said he knew as soon as he heard the tune that it was meant for Top Gun, adding, “As soon as we heard the song it was like, wow, that is a classic melody. That is fantastic. Even in demo form. When Hans heard it he was like, ‘I can use this as a theme for the movie.’ He worked it into his orchestral score. So it’s much more than just a song in the movie. It’s all over the theme of the film.”
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Top Gun: Maverick, which is a sequel to the original 1986 film, also received nominates for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Drama Film on Sunday night. The action drama featured a a star-studded cast including Val Kilmer, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman and Ed Harris.