Hello, my name is MusiCommentator, and it is not often I talk about movies on this site. There is a very good reason for this, as I would not be a good movie critic. I like almost any movie I see, so trying to make a critical analysis of a movie would be hard for me to do. However, there has always been a lot of crossover when it comes to the power of movies and music. After all, how great would your favorite movie be if it didn’t have a good score/soundtrack to match the mood? Sometimes, though, a movie’s subject matter directly deals with music, and the two worlds have a change to fully collide head-on.
Enter, “A Star Is Born”. This is no new movie. The movie has actually been adapted four separate times! The first was in 1937 with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, next was in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, then came 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson’s version (arguably the version with the harder cast to pronounce), and now comes 2018’s version with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Google describes the movie’s plot as such:
“Seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers — and falls in love with — struggling artist Ally. She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until Jackson coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jackson fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.“
Needless to say, this movie has been generating massive amounts of buzz. Theaters being sold out everywhere show that this movie is in high demand. And, with the movie being heavily centered around music, both movie-heads and music-heads can unite and enjoy one experience. Unfortunately, I have not seen the movie yet, and with my schedule as busy as it is, I may not get the chance to see it until after it comes out to rent. But, this movie did come with a long soundtrack, available to anyone–anytime–with a phone or a device that can play music. Even if I may not be seeing the movie, then, I can still listen to its music, and the single from this soundtrack, “Shallow“, has already dug a nice place for itself in the fifth spot of the Billboard Hot 100 charts, so let’s take a look and see if this movie has bred a good song?
“Tell me somethin’ girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more
Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?”
One of the reasons “A Star Is Born” has so many adaptions is that music evolves very quickly, and the music in the movies can show this progression with each new version. Music in 2018 is very different than it was in 1976, which is very different than it was in 1954, and you get the point. With “Shallow”, I can tell right away that it’s a modern song, but it’s stripped-back guitar style makes it feel vintage. It’s an odd feeling, but definitely one this song captures well.
Concerning the lyrics, Bradley Cooper takes the first verse, and I was just as surprised as everyone else to find that he had a phenomenal singing voice. He has a surprising amount of soul, but a little bit of a twang to give him some personality. His voice works well over these lyrics, which are a bit vague, but work good when you know the plot–or at least have a general understanding–of the film. He’s obviously talking to Ally (Lady Gaga), questioning her lot in life. And the second question works well into the fact that he brought her a lot of fame, so this verse is very good.
In all the good times
I find myself longing for change
And in the bad times I fear myself”
Now this refrain sets up some good conflict. Even with fame, Cooper shows that he has his own struggles and wishes he can change them but cannot. Another great part with great singing.
“Tell me something boy
Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?
Or do you need more
Ain’t it hard keepin’ it so hardcore?”
This verse is Gaga’s character talking to Cooper’s character. She sees that he has his own troubles and questions if he can fix them. She also addresses what his fame does to him, as the cleverly worded second question states “Ain’t it hard keepin’ it so hardcore?”. Of course, Gaga’s singing is as exceptional as it has always been, so make that another great verse for this song.
“I’m off the deep end
Watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface
Where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now”
After Gaga does a refrain, we see both singers combining to share their thoughts on the themes of this song. I see this chorus having multiple meanings. It can be a declaration of a downfall, as the singers are fully accepting the fact they will never reach their peak again and become at peace with this fact. It could be a statement of their love, as they’re going “off the deep end” together and they can’t be hurt in the shallow. It works in many ways for this song and I absolutely love it. A beautiful chorus.
The rest of the song is just a repetition of the chorus and whatnot, with a “Sha-la-la-low” post-chorus, but this song stays very powerful.
Overall, this is a spectacular single, and it works great as a soundtrack song. Just by listening to this song, I feel like I know the dynamics of the characters. I can see the troubles they face just through the questions the opposite character poses. And, I can see their broken unity to one another through the imagery of the chorus, using water and diving into it to be symbolic for many things. I feel like I know these characters and I haven’t even see the movie! Not to mention, the singing and instrumentation is great on this. Many times when I rate songs at a 5, I end up having some skepticism with it (like “Pray For Me” and “Happier“), but I can undoubtedly say this song is a 5 out of 5. Do you agree?
Thank you for reading my “Shallow” song review. If you liked this review, make sure to follow my website, Twitter, and Instagram, like this post, and be sure to check in to read my future reviews. Also, if you have something you want to see me review, tell me in the comments. Until then, keep on listening to good music! I know I will.