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In March 2015, Warner Bros. announced that Bradley Cooper was in talks to make his directorial debut with A Star Is Born, the fourth remake of the 1937 film of the same name.Lady Gaga was officially attached to the film in August 2016, with the studio green-lighting the project to begin production in early 2017. Cooper plays Jackson Maine, "a veteran country singer who discovers and eventually falls in love with a struggling singer-songwriter named Ally, played by Gaga." Gaga "helped inform Cooper's performance as a musician".
Cooper spent two-and-a-half years prepping for the film and determining what kind of musician his character would be. He worked with a number of musicians and vocal coach Roger Love. Cooper said, "by the end he just kind of started developing into his own sort of creation. If I had another year of prep, it would have been complete rock, but now it's some sort of hybrid."
Cooper described the soundtrack "an evolution, like the story." Gaga and Cooper were writing songs for the soundtrack during filming, leading to "so many different incarnations of each song." Cooper added that "the music really became a character in the movie. There is no lyric that's ever in any point of the movie that doesn't have exactly to do with where one of them is or hopes to be or regrets being. That was our launching pad and then it was just about discovering what songs fit in the right places."Jason Isbell wrote a song for Cooper's character, which became "the sword with which a lot of the music spawned from [Cooper]". Isbell sent the song through Dave Cobb, a Nashville-based producer with whom Cooper had been collaborating.
Cooper approached Lukas Nelson (son of country music singer Willie Nelson) after seeing him perform at Desert Trip in October 2016 and asked him to work on the film as a music consultant. Nelson said he began "writing songs for the movie, just for the heck of it, and sending them over to the producer, and they started liking them. Then Lady Gaga came by and I met her and we clicked. We became good friends, and we started writing together." Gaga, in turn, provided backing vocals on two tracks on Nelson's self-titled album released in 2017. Nelson and his band, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, appear in the film as Cooper's backing band.
Gaga reunited with producer Mark Ronson and songwriter Hillary Lindsey, who had both contributed to her previous studio album Joanne (2016). She worked with recurring collaborator DJ White Shadow on the soundtrack's more pop-oriented numbers performed by her character Ally. Much of the album was recorded live on set, at Gaga's insistence.
Music and lyrics
The album contains elements of blues rock, country and bubblegum pop.Billboard says its lyrics are about wanting change, its struggle, love, romance, and bonding, describing the music as "timeless, emotional, gritty and earnest. They sound like songs written by artists who, quite frankly, are supremely messed up but hit to the core of the listener."
The soundtrack's track list and release date were announced on August 30, 2018.Interscope Records tweeted that the album "features 19 songs in a wide range of musical styles + 15 dialogue tracks that will take you on a journey that mirrors the experience of seeing the film." The song "Shallow" was released on September 27 as the album's lead single. "Always Remember Us This Way" followed on November 21, 2018 in South Africa and three days later in the United Kingdom.
The soundtrack received a positive response from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album has an average score of 78, based on 8 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". In a positive review, The Washington Post called the soundtrack a "five-star marvel" and stated that it is a possible contender to win a Grammy Award. Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian gave the album a positive review, acknowledging "Bradley Cooper shows he can sing as well as act and direct", but that "it is Lady Gaga's pop prowess that lifts each track, be it spectacular piano ballads or heart-rending duets"
In a positive review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, writing for AllMusic, said "All the songs make sense narratively and on their own, so they hold together well and would amount to a first-rate soundtrack", but criticized the dialogue included in the album.Rolling Stone's Brittany Spanos gave the soundtrack four stars out of a possible five, saying "The music Gaga helps write for this stretch in Ally's career...is gorgeous--romantic without being trite and powerful." Nick Reilly of NME complimented the album's "emotionally charged songs that feel entirely appropriate for this heartfelt tale of doomed romance", adding that the album is "one of the best Hollywood soundtracks of recent years."
Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Neil McCormick gave the album a moderately positive review, saying the soundtrack was enjoyable, but criticized the "slightly awkward journey from rock balladry to slickly superficial pop" and stated that "there is also a weird disconnect as the soundtrack shifts gear to anodyne modern pop". Jeremy Winograd of Slant Magazine, in a mixed review, was critical of the album, saying "There's undoubtedly a strong 10-song album lodged at the core of A Star Is Born, but unlike the film, wherein an outsized sense of sentimentality is rendered affecting by the more grounded performances, there's not nearly enough substance here to justify all the bombast."
A Star Is Born opened atop the US Billboard 200 with 231,000 album-equivalent units, including 162,000 pure album sales. It had the biggest overall sales week for a soundtrack in over three years, and is Gaga's fifth US number-one album as well as Cooper's first. Gaga extended her record as the female artist with the most chart-topping albums during the 2010s, breaking her tie with Taylor Swift. Beside its pure album sales, A Star Is Born earned 37,000 in stream-equivalent units and 32,000 from track-equivalent units. The soundtrack spent a second week at number one there with 143,000 album-equivalent units (86,000 being pure sales), and became Gaga's second album to top the chart for two consecutive weeks after Born This Way (2011). It then held the country's summit for a third week in a row with 109,000 equivalent units (61,000 pure sales), becoming the first soundtrack since High School Musical 2 in 2007 to top the chart for its first three weeks. Additionally, it became Gaga's longest running chart-topping album in the country.A Star Is Born was displaced one week later by Andrea Bocelli's Sì. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it Platinum for selling over a million album-equivalent units and had sold 780,000 copies (with 299,000 copies from digital downloads).
The soundtrack entered at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 18,000 equivalent units, earning the top sales and digital song download honors and the seventh highest on-demand streams for the week. It was Gaga's third album to reach the summit in the nation and her first since Born This Way.A Star Is Born held the top position for the next week, with another 12,000 equivalent units and was also the top-selling album. It had an 11% increase in sales during the third week and remained atop the charts, selling close to 14,000 equivalent units. Like in the United States, the soundtrack became Gaga's longest running chart-topping album in Canada.A Star Is Born spent nine weeks atop the chart and became the longest-running number-one album, since ÷ by Ed Sheeran also spent nine non-consecutive weeks at the pole position until January 2018. By the year-end, the soundtrack had sold 92,000 copies (155,000 equivalent units) in the country according to Nielsen SoundScan, and was certified Platinum by Music Canada.
A Star Is Born faced competition in the United Kingdom from Twenty One Pilots' fifth studio album, Trench, with the midweek chart suggesting the latter to emerge as the top album. A Star Is Born pulled ahead at the last moment according to Alan Jones from Music Week, and debuted atop the UK Albums Chart with 31,816 units (including 6,178 from stream-equivalent units). It became Gaga's fourth album to reach number one in the nation and first since Artpop (2013), as well as Cooper's first entry on the chart. The soundtrack fell to number two the following week behind Jess Glynne's Always In Between, selling 24,732 equivalent units. For the week ending November 1, 2018, the soundtrack moved back atop the chart with 24,982 copies sold (including 6,645 from sales-equivalent streams). "Shallow" also reached the top of the UK Singles Chart that week, making Gaga and Cooper score an Official UK Chart double, this being Gaga's third time to do so. The soundtrack received a Platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for selling over 300,000 units in the country.A Star Is Born opened at number one in both Ireland and Scotland, and was Gaga's third number one in the former. During its eleventh week atop the Irish chart, the soundtrack attained its highest sales tally, helped by the release of the Special Deluxe Edition. In France, the soundtrack sold 8,700 copies and debuted at number seven on the SNEP Albums Chart, and climbed to number five in its fourth week, selling 7,500 copies. It was the 22nd best-selling album of the year in France in 2018. The Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP) certified the record Platinum for 100,000 equivalent units and it had sold a total of 120,000 copies by February 2019.
In Australia, A Star Is Born entered at number three on the ARIA Albums Chart, giving Gaga her seventh top 10 album in the country and her sixth to reach the top three. Two weeks later, the soundtrack reached the top of the charts, becoming Gaga's third album to reach the Australian charts summit after The Fame Monster and Born This Way. The soundtrack debuted at number six in the New Zealand Albums Chart, and after two weeks reached the top.A Star Is Born became the year's longest running number-one album in Australia at 10 weeks (ranking at number three on the year-end charts) and was certified Platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for selling over 70,000 units. In New Zealand it topped the charts for 16 weeks, breaking the record for most consecutive weeks at the top, previously held by ÷, Ed Sheeran's third studio album, and was certified double-Platinum for selling 30,000 units by the Recorded Music NZ (RMNZ). Worldwide the album went on to sell two million copies.
A Star Is Born was nominated in the category of Best Soundtrack Album at the 9th Hollywood Music in Media Awards. Julianne Jordan and Julia Michels won in the categories for Outstanding Music Supervision at the same awards.
Uproxx website ranked the soundtrack at number four on their list of 20 Must-Hear Pop Albums From 2018, with Chloe Gilke from the publication adding that "A Star Is Born could have gotten away with a lesser soundtrack, but it's all the more impressive for featuring some of the best pop music of 2018." Katie Atkinson from Billboard picked A Star Is Born as the 21st best release on their ranking of the 50 Best Albums of 2018, saying that "like the best soundtracks, this one truly resonates because it re-transports you to the world of [the film], thanks to a combination of live and studio recordings that include ambient noise and audience feedback and put you right back onstage with Jackson and Ally." James Rettig from Stereogum listed it as one of the Noteworthy Movie Soundtracks From 2018, adding that "As far as massive music blockbusters go, you can't do much better than A Star Is Born, which is sad and entertaining and romantic and ends up being pretty good at all of it."
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