The video for “Shallow” from the A Star is Born soundtrack dropped today. I knew I would love this song when the trailer came out a few months ago. And when I went to see the film at TIFF, that’s what I was waiting for – I was waiting for them to perform it, I was waiting to hear it in full. Because, f-ck, is it ever satisfying when it happens. “Shallow” is a monster ballad. To me, it’s on the same level as a song like Adele’s “Hello”. I will be very, very surprised if, like “Hello”, this isn’t the song we won’t be able to get away from for the next six months. It’s going to follow you around everywhere. Or you’ll follow it around everywhere. Which is why I’m a little bit sad that it’s out there now and that most of you won’t get that same sense of anticipation. “Shallow” is a classic movie payoff – and it’s a testament to Bradley Cooper’s work as a director that he successfully paces the story to build to the moment. And then delivers.
That said, they were smart to cut this video the way they did. Because it’s more of a montage from the film without giving away how that scene unfolds, and what happens before it culminates in that really wonderful moment. What you do get here is some sense of how goddamn magnificent Lady Gaga is in this film. How vulnerable she is. How tangible. You can almost touch her, she feels so real.
Here’s another thing I appreciate about this video: it’s nostalgic. In the same way that the film is nostalgic. A Star is Born is a film that works for now, yes. But it evokes for those of us who were around in the 80s what it felt like to watch movies in the 80s. Which is one of its strengths. Back in the 80s, movies came with ballads. Think of “Wind Beneath My Wings”, “Crazy For You”, “Say You, Say Me”, “Endless Love”, “St Elmo’s Fire”, “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us Now”. The music videos for those ballads, to me, is the inspiration behind this music video for “Shallow”. You know which one in particular popped in my mind? “Against All Odds.” I’m not saying it’s exactly the same. Of course the 80s tacky corniness is gone. I’m sure it has something to do with Jeff Bridges and Crazy Heart and how Bradley Cooper looks in this movie and the comparisons that have already been made. But the feeling? The feeling is there. That 80s movie smash hit song feeling…only the difference here is that most of those movies weren’t all that good. A Star is Born is a good movie. It’s not my favourite movie, I’m not as obsessed with it as some of my colleagues who’ve also seen it, or as obsessed as you will probably be when you see it, but it’s a solid film with outstanding performances.
And I wonder now if “Shallow”, this song, and this soundtrack from A Star is Born might be the closest we’ve come in years to the kind of movie soundtrack takeover we saw with The Bodyguard or Titanic. Also, what’s really exciting is that this is potentially the second movie soundtrack of 2018 that could take on its own identity. The other is the soundtrack to Black Panther, which topped the charts when the movie came out and is considered a strong contender for an Oscar nomination for Kendrick Lamar.
Black Panther and ASIB could be going head to head in the music categories on February 24, 2019. And these are two films, by the way, that would have been candidates for that dumbass “Popular Film” category that the Academy tried to introduce and then walked back because it was stupid. Can you imagine? This is what the Best Picture category SHOULD look like. With blockbusters and classic Hollywood melodramas and smaller meditations and family sagas and romantic comedies all represented. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
For now then, here’s “Shallow”. Unless you want to wait to hear it for the first time when you see the movie. Make sure though that after you see the movie you come back here so that we can talk about the “Shallow” scene. There’s a lot to unpack.
Here are Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper tonight at the UK premiere.