Movie Soundtrack Wednesday #16 – A Star Is Born

Words: Giulia Lombardo

Music and melodrama. Bradley Cooper goes behind the camera and, for the first time, on stage. As a partner for this incredible adventure, that goes hand in hand with the sound of music (with the incredible ‘Shallow’ among the monumental soundtrack) he finds none other than Lady Gaga.

For her debut as an actress, the great pop star and performer returns to be “herself”, leaves Lady Gaga behind to go back to her roots as Stefani Germanotta (her real name), gets rid of her exuberant and eccentric disguises and plays Ally. A waitress who abandoned the dream of being a singer too soon, because she was incapable of “selling herself” and hiding her true colours for the purpose of being the ”typical” popstar. It will be the rock star Jacskon Maine (Cooper) to discover her talent during a cover of ‘La Vie En Rose’ in a nightclub, and to push her to try another way. The love is overwhelming, the songwriting is no less, but Jack’s problem with alcohol is always in the way of their happiness. With that, she really starts to climb the steps of fame. The traumas of the past, can’t even be defeated by love.

Bradley Cooper as director on set for the movie ‘A Star Is Born’ – credits to: IMDb

It is not simply, not only, the evident chemistry between the two protagonists, both enthralling and authentic, that makes the movie work, and it is not even for the indisputable, extraordinary work of musical and sound accompaniment and, probably not even for the development of an overall predictable and linear story: ‘A Star is Born’ has concentrated the entire movie on the power of the two characters’ souls. It has pain as the center from which depart sudden flashes of happiness, sometimes just a glance, others a duet on stage, and others when they find themselves together at the table of the family of the neighbors after a night when Jack was passed out on the side of the road.

The album released by Interscope contains all the songs produced for the film and many (perhaps too many) spoken excerpts, probably with the aim of keeping the proposed narration on the big screen even while listening to the album. The single that can surely be defined as the anthem of the film is, without too many surprises, ‘Shallow’, even if other proposals on the tracklist deserve more attention, having found less banal sounds and lyrics.
The project, produced by a very experienced team, easily achieves its goal: to excite and to musically tell the love story between Ally and Jackson Maine.

The opening ‘Intro’, with its twenty seconds, carries in the atmosphere of an epic live concert and ‘Black Eyes’ immediately reveals the work done by Bradley Cooper for playing Jackson Maine from the vocal point of view that led him to transform his voice. The song, written by the actor together with Lukas Nelson, reveals the rock and roll approach and a bit of country that distinguishes almost all the tracks designed for the protagonist. The text, not particularly incisive or deep, allows you to understand the mood of Jackson in a few seconds even without the help of images.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper as Ally and Jackson in ‘A Star Is Born’ – credits: IMDb

Bradley then gives one of the real pearls featured in the soundtrack with ‘Maybe It’s Time’, song written by singer-songwriter and guitarist Jason Isbell who created the perfect lyrics to enclose the idea that Maine is aware of how difficult it is to change and look for a new path to take. The acoustic interpretation made for the film optimally enhances the ballad and allows to better appreciate the link with the story. The over-the-top romance continues with Music to My Eyes that really wastes Cooper’s vocals with a ballad that never manages to make the parallel between music and nascent love memorable or different from other thousand songs with similar atmospheres. Not to mention the incredibly painful yet glorious ‘Never Love Again’, of which I am not going to talk a lot about otherwise I’d start crying.

It’s a film that you live in one breath, that strikes your heart and soul, that makes you smile when Ally starts to transform under the direction of her rampant manager, and makes you die inside for its ending. It’s a film that tries to face once again the reflection on the difference between having talent and having something to say, between knowing how to do and wanting to do it, between knowing how to emerge and being successful.

You can listen to the ‘A Star Is Born’ soundtrack here :

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