Lady Gaga took to the Oscars stage Sunday night to deliver a surprise performance of “Hold My Hand,” the Oscar-nominated song from “Top Gun: Maverick” — and the only thing more sensational than it even happened, after earlier denials, was just how stripped down, yet hugely effective, her reading of the song was.
Gaga was originally expected to skip the show due to filming the sequel “Joker: Folie à Deux”, but in a quick change of plans the star was confirmed to perform by Variety springs early Sunday morning.
In keeping with the last-minute nature of the performance, Gaga was more stripped down than she’s ever been in a televised appearance, strutting her stuff in a T-shirt, shorts and with little obvious hair or makeup glam. The song took on a surprisingly rootsy rock-band production, as opposed to the far leaner soundtrack version, and was punctuated by hoots and howls from a clearly captivated crowd.
“It’s deeply personal to me,” she said as she gave a spoken introduction to her performance. “We all need each other. We need a lot of love to go through this life. We need heroes sometimes. There are heroes all around us… You might find that you can be your own completely, even if you feel broken inside.”
As the crowd gave her a standing ovation at the end of the song, a dedication to original “Top Gun” director Tony Scott appeared on an overhead screen in the Dolby Theatre.
Gaga is the first artist to receive three nominations in the Best Original Song category with “Holy My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick,” following “Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground” in 2016 and “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” in 2019. The latter gave Gaga her first Oscar win along with co-writers Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt and Anthony Rossomando.
“Thank you so much to the Academy for nominating my song ‘Hold My Hand’ for an Oscar this year! Writing this song for the movie ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ was a profound and powerful experience that I will never forget,” Gaga wrote on social media when the nomination was announced. “So grateful for the magic of music and cinema.” Giving props to her Bloodpop co-writer, she signed off with, “I’m on set filming now, much love for little monsters!”
She made her first stage debut in 2015, performing a medley of four songs from “The Sound of Music” to honor the film on its 50th anniversary. She returned in 2016 to perform “Til It Happens to You” and again in 2019 for a performance of “Shallow” with duet partner Bradley Cooper.
“Hold My Hand” is one of six nominations that “Top Gun: Maverick” received. The Tom Cruise starrer is tied for best picture with two other box office giants, “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Elvis,” along with Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical “The Fabelmans,” “Tár,” “Women Talking” . ” and “Triangle of Sadness.” See the full list of nominees here.
Gaga first released “Hold My Hand” in May 2022, simultaneously dropping the song’s accompanying music video, which was directed by the film’s director Joseph Kosinski.
This year, Gaga joins fellow Best Original Song nominees Rihanna (“Lift Me Up”), Sofia Carson and Diane Warren (“Applause”), Stephanie Hsu, David Byrne and Son Lux (“This Is a Life”) and Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava (“Naatu Naatu”) as performers on the Oscar stage.