Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga: ‘A Star Is Born’ Motion Picture Soundtrack

Posted October 18, 2018 by in Pop



4/ 5


Genre: , ,
Producer: , , , , , ,
Genre: Rock, pop
Producer: Lady Gaga, Paul "DJWS" Blair, Dave Cobb, Bradley Cooper, Nick Monson, Lukas Nelson, Brian Newman, Mark Nilan Jr., Benjamin Rice
Label: Interscope
Format: Digital download, compact disc, vinyl
Time: 70:01
Release Date: 5 October 2018
Spin This: "Shallow," "Always Remember Us This Way," "Music to My Ears," "I'll Never Love Again"


Smooth singer-songwriter duets, solid believable performances from Gaga and Cooper; reflective lyricism in top form


Dialogue could be a buzzkill for those hungry for just the music; the dialogue-free version should've been blessed with bonus content, acoustic demos, different takes

A Star Is Born is reborn with Gaga and Cooper re-adaption, and it’s so much better than the others

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

A Star Is Born is reborn with Gaga and Cooper re-adaption, and it’s so much better than the others

bradleycooper-ladygaga-00A Star Is Born is the reboot that never dies. It’s been reincarnated in various forms for nearly a century, with 1937’s Technicolor classic starting things off followed by the 1954 Judy Garland-starring film turning it into a musical and Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson tweaking it for rock revellers in 1974. If you haven’t heard already, a new version has surfaced. In Bradley Cooper’s care, in his directional debut, he plays Jackson Maine, the raging alcoholic country rock star who discovers Ally (played by Lady Gaga) and provides the launching pad for a pop star. This is also a first for her, transporting the “Applause” singer with some considerable acting chops (American Horror Story) finally unto the big screen.

The film is already getting rave reviews and some well-deserved Oscar buzz, but where does the soundtrack stack up on its own? Well, no offense to Streisand’s AC classic “Evergreen” or Garland’s Broadway-ready chops, but this new soundtrack is far superior. The songs, graced with smart sensibilities and endearing compositional skill, fit perfectly into the sequences of the film not in typical musical theatre form, nor in an overbearing Empire-Glee form, but like actual experiences captured in real-life eavesdropping and live recorded authenticity. Like the Kris Kristofferson-Barbra Streisand score, two individual artists are highlighted, plus duets. But that’s about it with the musical comparison. And yes, despite all the musical star power of Gaga hovering over the project, this is just as much Cooper’s album as it is hers. And he solidly carries the performances to the finishing line. That’s the biggest surprise of the album – realizing just how good Cooper is as a standalone singer. “Black Eyes” opens the set with raging rock guitar and the occasional Elton John-esque hard-finger piano banging, exposing the gutsy pipes of Cooper using the voice of his country-rock singer-songwriter character. There’s also the Southern sweat of “Alibi” and the heartfelt acoustic soul of the Jason Isbell-penned “Maybe It’s Time,” possibly Cooper’s greatest musical moment. And infused with a live concert feel, “Out of Time” sticks out for possessing solo guitar riffs similar to a Lynyrd Syknyrd jam. Helping to make the rock connection is the watchful eye of Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson and co-producer on mostly all of Cooper’s tracks.

Gaga’s half is not as transformative. We all know of her genius behind a good song. The good part is that there’s hardly any fluff for her to play with here. Except for the gorgeously blended indie pop and alt ‘n B heard on “Heal Me,” the solo tracks from Gaga is conventional Gaga. It’s mostly of a quality traced from Joanne. “Always Remember Us This Way” sticks out the most, rising to the status of “You and I” and “A Million Reasons,” if given the green light for a single. The groovy “Why Did You Do That?” feels pop radio ready, and surprisingly bears a co-writing credit from Diane Warren. But there are some moments that sends chills down the spine. “I’ll Never Love Again,” the film’s climax and the soundtrack’s final number, totally transcends. It’s written in the classic Mariah Carey pedigree (think “Love Takes Time,” “Hero”) and has the potential to completely usher Gaga into the graduating class of iconic songstresses dominated by Whitney and Celine. Possibly the greatest gift for Gaga’s musical creative stretch comes with the Dap Kings-framed “Look What I Found.” It’s a type of soul-pop that squeezes her closer to the funky everlasting Stax sound. And oh yeah, there’s “La Vie En Rose” which hearkens back to Gaga’s jazz pilgrimages (see Cheek to Cheek).

So where’s the 24K gold buried inside A Star Is Born? It’s the duets that transfix the ear the most. Gaga and Cooper join forces masterfully on “Diggin’ My Grave,” a song bearing a smart country-soul palette blessed with Chris Stapleton ferocity and Ann Pebbles attitude. “Shallow,” another big duet, is blessed with a glorious melody and reflective lyrics (“I’m off the deep end/Watch as I dive in”). On the bridge and post-chorus, you hear plenty of Gaga’s classic phrasing, like done on “Bad Romance.” “In the sha-sha-la-la-low” sounds like “ra-ra, ah-ah-ah, roma-roma-ma.” It’s not exactly hurtful to the ear, but it feels totally predictable. “Music to My Ears,” co-penned by Gaga and Nelson, may be overlooked the most due to all the great tracks surrounding it, but the warm vibes and the romantic harmonies of the two (“Love, let your music be mine/Sing while I harmonize/Let your melodies fly in my direction”) are deeply impassioned, bearing a rustic, peaceful Americana glow that leaves you hungry for more.

There are a few challenges to the disc, mostly to the dialogue version. Some of the audience responsive fill-ins sound a little mechanical. And the various chatter inserts, all dropped in between tracks to give off theatre adages and cues, seem to interrupt the flow of the outstanding performances. Now, granted, for those who’ve seen the film, the audio excerpts are a blessing to the listening experience and feel like preludes of what’s to come. Thankfully, there is an alternative version of the album that leaves the dialogue out. It’s shorter, but it doesn’t give you any extra bonus material. Maybe alternative versions, a demo or two, would’ve blessed that package. But for those looking for a concert on wax, they only need to turn to the music-only copy.

Other than those complaints, the disc is a good follow-up to Joanne (sorry, no Artpop electro pop here) and things sound refreshingly good, even important, in this singer-songwriter phase of hers. The lyrics are poignant, personal and very reflective. Gaga and Cooper also equally pour out enough grit and emotion to sell this score as a separate piece from the film. Job well done, now let the Oscar and Grammy buzz begin. It’s totally deserving of it.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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