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"A Star is Born" Soundtrack

by Margaret Stewart | copy editor
Tue, Oct 9th 2018 01:00 pm

Similar to other films that follow the journey of big pop-sensations, “A Star Is Born” showcases the talents of the cast in the intricate details interwoven between the plot and, almost more importantly, the musicality. The soundtrack follows the film chronologically and includes bits and pieces of the actual dialogue, another way to show how tightly the music is embedded within the work. 

The first song, “Black Eyes,” is traditional rock n’roll and is sung by Jackson Maine, played by Bradley Cooper. Cooper, known for his acting and recently his directing, proves he is a triple threat as he really impresses with both his range and tone in all of his vocals. Maine, a country rocker is influenced heavily by big name rockers such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young. The rock n’ roll influences are unsurprising as Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas helped to co-write many of the songs.

The next piece on the soundtrack is the lesser known intro to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” This is beautifully sung acapella by Lady Gaga and is marked as one of the “dialogue” portions of the soundtrack. It is quickly followed by another short, 20 second dialogue that helps to set the framework for both the film and the album. Named “Fabulous French,” the dialogue focuses upon an announcer introducing Ally, played by Gaga.

Third is the classic “La Vie En Rose” where Gaga amazes with her flawless French. Gaga’s classic sound brings a raw edge to the tune which is refreshing and somehow relatable, perhaps because it is a voice many have heard. The “Born This Way” singer proves that she is more than simply a pop artist, though there are some influences of that genre in the piece.

This is followed by another short dialogue piece featuring Gaga and Cooper. In it he states, “I’ll wait for you.” As the name of the track, it is when Maine, an alcoholic, meets Ally after her rendition of “La Vie En Rose.” What is really unique about this soundtrack is that you can listen to it and almost not have to see the movie. Of course, the film adds more dimension, clarity and explanation, the soundtrack is entirely capable of entrancing its audience with the sparknotes of the full-length film.

Ally turns out to be an instinctive songwriter, and briefly knocks Jackson out of his stupor; the pair fall in love. Her star is indeed born, but Jackson struggles to stay in her slipstream, buffeted by his drinking, familial pain, tinnitus and perhaps a bit of jealousy.

Musically, the most potent part of the soundtrack is when Cooper and Gaga duet. Most notably, the song “Shallow” has placed 14 on the Digital Song Sales chart, a chart that encompasses all genres of music. It is also number 4 in Pop Digital Song Sales, 12,000 downloads were sold before the movie even hit theaters, which is not uncommon for Gaga but is a first for Cooper.

“I Don’t Know What Love Is” is a hyper emotional ballad that combines both Cooper’s smooth, deep tone and Gaga’s higher and harsher vibrato for an incredible piece. The union marries country-rock with pop for a beautiful mix that merges grit with soul.

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