Photo Credit: Neal Preston | WARNER BROS. PICTURES
A Star is Born is a heavy hitting movie featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper discussing the intricacies and struggles of the music industry. Bradley Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a well- known country musician and struggling alcoholic who meets struggling musician, Ally (Lady Gaga) at a bar. The movie uses Ally’s transition from waitress to musician to delve into the confusing aspects of record labels, song copyrighting, and ownership of music while touring. The movie also depicts a famous star’s private battle with his health and how dealing with alcoholism can cripple a person and those around them. The movie also discusses elements of how to deal with insecurity. While Ally was very outward and straightforward with how she showed her insecurity, Jackson was very introspective and secretive about his lack of confidence. From the beginning until the end, this movie has captivating characters and an engaging plot with twists and developments.
Now, a movie about musicians better have a great soundtrack, right? Well, A Star is Born does not disappoint! This hour-long feature of original songs has a decent amount of variety in it. The pieces where Lady Gaga sings is exactly what’d you’d expect from a Gaga performance: controlled, powerful and with gorgeous resonance. The real surprise here are the songs sung by Bradley Cooper. Cooper actually took vocal lessons to prepare himself for this role and he sounds surprisingly okay in the role! If his songs were heard out-of-context, an untrained ear might not even notice that he isn’t really a musician. Songs like “Alibi” and “Diggin’ My Grave” are pretty believable tracks for Cooper’s performance.
One favorite on the album is Lady Gaga’s cover of “La Vie En Rose”. From the spot on pronunciation to the extremely warm production quality of the piece, the performance is very enjoyable both in and out-of-context. When listening to this album critically, there was a focus on what was enjoyable in context and out-of-context. Tracks with dialogue such as “Trust me” and “First Stop, Arizona” obviously don’t work on their own but the songs sound pretty good mostly out-of-context. This is probably one of the reasons why there are two versions of the soundtrack: deluxe or without dialogue. If the listener doesn’t mind the extra breaks in-between tunes, the deluxe is a great addition to a collection, however most people would probably prefer the without dialogue version.
All in all, A Start is Born carries the torch in both cinematography as well as OST albums and these songs can be enjoyed by people whether they watched the movie or not. This album and movie sets an example for all other movies in this genre for what it means to make an original soundtrack and what it means to make a movie depicting music. The topics discussed were heavy yet some of these songs would be considered bubble gum pop by some standards (“Why Did You Do That?” and “Hair Body Face”). At the end of the day, this album can be recommended to anyone whether they are familiar with the movie or not.