A Star Is Born: On Friday, Bradley Cooper bares his soul to worldwide movie audiences via A Star Is Born, the remake he co-wrote, directed, and stars in opposite Lady Gaga.
Cooper was so committed to the project that he logged hundreds of hours learning to play the guitar and sing well enough to perform at Coachella and Glastonbury without being booed offstage. He analyzed his dreams, re-purposing certain images and ideas for art.
He used his own pain and addiction—which he has been reluctant to discuss in interviews—to anchor his heart-aching role as an addict who, in spite of his artistic talent, is broken inside. He spent hours interviewing Lady Gaga with his co-writer Eric Roth to ensure that her character, Ally, was authentic to Gaga’s own struggles.
He filled his cast with people who meant something special to him—including his own ear doctor! He incorporated subtle, sweet homages to previous versions of Hollywood’s favorite love story. As Taffy Brodesser-Akner wrote for The New York Times, “Every detail of [the film] comes from a true thing—something he’s learned, something he’s seen, something he knows for sure.”
It’s a euphoric feat of vocal gymnastics that never fails to thrill, no matter how many times you might have seen the trailer or countless memes it’s inspired. But “Shallow” is also only one of 17 original songs recorded and written by Gaga and Cooper for the show-biz drama, with the help of music heavyweights including Diane Warren, Mark Ronson, Lukas Nelson and Jason Isbell. How could the rest of the soundtrack ever hope to reach those heights – or, in this case, depths?
The good news is Gaga and Cooper are more than up to the task. Although Jackson’s purist ghost would undoubtedly scoff at the very suggestion, “A Star Is Born” features a slew of other potential hits for its two stars, whose “Shallow” has enjoyed a nearly uninterrupted run at No. 1 on iTunes since its release more than a week ago.
Gaga, in particular, eclipses her own “Shallow” performance on a number of tracks: “Is That Alright?” is Ally’s swoon-worthy ode to Jackson, painting an evocative picture of their whirlwind romance as Gaga deftly alternates between tender storyteller and throaty power belter. “I want you at the end of my life,” she passionately declares in the chorus. “Wanna see your face when I fall with grace at the moment I die.”