Lady Gaga spreads her wings & steps into the limelight for the first time – at least in a feature film – in the movie A Star Is Born, the third time the 1937 film of the same name has been remade, showcasing not only her ability to act in a compelling manner but how malleable her vocal skillset is, presenting herself in a much more fragile & unpolished manner than she has in other mediums. The film itself follows a verging-on-alcoholic performer – played by Bradley Cooper – in his travels from venue to venue, struggling to keep his addiction hidden from the public as he plays to sold-out crowds, eventually coming across Gaga’s character singing at a drag bar one night & becoming mesmerized by her untapped talent; They hit it off instantly & Cooper asks her to come to his show that night, inviting her on stage for her first performance on a grand stage & unveiling her unto the world, an act which marks the beginning of their burgeoning romance & the moment the star of this story is born – “Shallow” is the duet they sing together, a tune that functions as a deep dive into the duo’s mindsets as they speak about emptiness, desire, fear of failure & their quest for the courage necessary to fulfill their greatest fantasies. Half expository statement & half romantic ode, this narrative allows them to wear their vulnerabilities on their sleeve, trusting that their singing partner will pick up the slack & provide the comfort they’re searching for, the quality of their emotional performances conveying how serious they are about embarking on this lifechanging adventure together.
It’s no surprise that Gaga absolutely kills it in “Shallow,” giving what is easily one of her most riveting emotional performances to date, but the introductory moments show us that Cooper is more than capable of holding a tune on his own as well, delivering a gritty display of vocal skill that feels authentic & seasoned, just like his character would sound. Before the movie went into production, he took two years off to learn how to sing, combining that with his acting prowess to transform his minimal vocal skillset into a truly impressive display of music theory, his dulcet tones soothing the listener with an ever-so-slight southern twang, raspy vocal fry from years of alcohol & tobacco abuse, an astounding grasp on dynamic accentuation & the ability to do all of this whilst playing the guitar with above-average skill. Though he may dazzle audiences for a bit, Gaga quickly usurps him when it’s her time to hit the stage, singing with a mixture of raw emotion, stage fright & curiosity as she works out her own self-image issues in front of such a huge crowd during her performance, her voice wavering & seeming to grow as she sings into a more confident character with every note; Because of this, her incredible crystalline high notes in the latter-half of “Shallow” feel uplifting & completely earned for her character, demonstrating the exact moment she has overcome her fears & accepts who she really is inside, her booming voice & application of ever-more dynamism showing this sonically to the listener – As if it could have gone any other way, this track is an absolutely breathtaking performance that gives modern musical films a good name, presenting a heartwarming story which can be applied to audiences in all manner of tricky situations & one that cements both Cooper & Gaga as top-tier performers, creating a feedback loop that’ll have listeners clamoring for more material on a regular basis.
Lady Gaga, Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando, Mark Ronson
"Shallow" is a song performed by American singer Lady Gaga and American actor and filmmaker Bradley Cooper. It was released through Interscope Records on September 27, 2018 as the lead single from the soundtrack of the 2018 musical drama film, A Star Is Born. "Shallow" was written by Gaga with Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando and Mark Ronson, and produced by Gaga with Benjamin Rice. The song is heard three times throughout the film, most prominently during a sequence when Cooper's character Jackson Maine invites Gaga's character Ally to perform it onstage with him. The scene was filmed in front of a live audience at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, California.