House of Gucci may not have netted Gaga her second Oscar, but she could find herself taking home another golden statue for Best Original Song thanks to “Hold My Hand.” Serving as the lead single for the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick soundtrack, “Hold My Hand” is the kind of rhapsodic and maudlin power ballad that brings the Academy to its knees.
A rousing arena rock ballad, “Hold My Hand” finds Gaga shifting gears out of the Chromatica lane and back into her A Star Is Born lane. Cinematic guitar licks and strings round out an instrumental that still feels sparse because of its over-reliance on Gaga’s lead vocal. Gaga’s vocal performance is the key to unlocking the song’s full potential, but it just doesn’t quite click. Gaga’s actual singing isn’t the issue (although her belts in the final chorus have a nasal quality that’s quite unpleasant), it’s the unadventurous vocal arrangement that dampens her efforts. “Hold My Hand” could have benefitted from more robust backing vocals and harmonies towards the end of the song. The bombast of the track is a lot to place on any person’s voice, and Gaga sounds much less comfortable in the higher parts of her range which distracts from the atmosphere the song is trying to create.
“Take My Breath Away,” the original song from the 1986 Top Gun film won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and clearly “Hold My Hand” is being primed to win the same award in 2023. It’s a weaker offering in comparison to “Shallow,” Gaga’s own Oscar-winning original song, but it would be unfair to ask that every Gaga film soundtrack song recreate what’s inimitable. Maybe “Hold My Hand” will fully come together in its live performances, but, as it stands, the song is just fine.