Look out, Lin-Manuel Miranda – Beyoncé has entered the chat.
The 40-year-old singer, already the female artist with the most Grammy wins, picked up her first Oscar nomination on Tuesday for best original song for “Be Alive,” a pulsing power ballad that she wrote with songwriter Dixson for “King Richard, ”a biopic about the father of Venus and Serena Williams.
The song, which plays during the film’s end credits and is accompanied by archival footage of the real Williams family, features inspirational lyrics that recount the journey the Williams sisters have taken to the top of the tennis world.
Backed by a drum-heavy beat and layered vocal harmonies, Beyoncé, in soaring voice, intones:
Look how we’ve been fighting to stay alive
So when we win we will have pride
Do you know how much we have cried?
How hard we had to fight?
Other lyrics speak to the importance of Black pride, family and sisterhood, with a chorus that underscores the importance of having the singer’s “family,” “sisters” and “tribe” by her side.
The song, with its blunt, steady beat and vocal pyrotechnics, “insists on the community effort behind the triumph,” The New York Times’ chief pop music critic Jon Pareles wrote. Clayton Davis of Variety compared “Be Alive” to the Common and John Legend song “Glory,” which concluded Ava DuVernay’s 2014 historical drama “Selma.” That song took the Oscar.
Though this is Beyoncé’s first Oscar nomination, it’s hardly the 28-time Grammy winner’s first film crossover. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Deena Jones in the 2006 film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls”; starred as the R&B singer Etta James in the 2008 biopic “Cadillac Records,” about the pioneering Chicago blues label; and voiced Nala in the 2019 live-action remake of “The Lion King,” in addition to recording music for that film’s soundtrack.
But to take home her first statuette, she’ll have to overcome some stiff competition. Miranda, the “Hamilton” creator who needs only an Oscar to attain EGOT status, was nominated for “Dos Oruguitas,” a Spanish love song about two caterpillars that he wrote for Disney’s animated musical “Encanto.” The other nominees in the category are Billie Eilish and Finneas, for the James Bond song “No Time to Die,” which won the Golden Globe; Van Morrison, for “Down to Joy” from “Belfast”; and “Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days.”