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Album Review

It’s hard to be vulnerable.

That theme is the beating heart of the movie A Star Is Born. Vulnerability, we see, can lead to tragedy. It can lead to life, too. But not without risk, not without moments that teeter between hope and despair, between promise and pain.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, who portray the musicians Ally and Jackson in the fourth version of this film, embody that tension as they juggle fame, passion and addiction—all of which fill the 18 songs they sing.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Hope, inspiration, love and the desire for a shared romantic future are themes on many songs, such as “Hair Body Face,” “Music to My Eyes,” “Is That Alright?,” “I Don’t Know What Love Is” and the classic French tune “La Vie en Rose.” In the first of those songs, a woman sings, “I’m not mad as long as I am perfect in your eyes.” In “Always Remember Us This Way,” Gaga's Ally realizes that her beloved “found the light in me I couldn’t find” and that he is “where I wanna go.” Similarly, “Is That Alright?” finds her singing, “I want you to look right in my eyes/To tell me you love me, to be by my side/I want you at the end of my life.” (And in the film, the two characters do indeed get married.)

In “Too Far Gone,” “Before I Cry” and “Heal Me,” these two characters realize that they need each other. We hear honest vulnerability in “Before I Cry,” in which Ally expresses her desperate desire to know that she’s wanted: “If you say you don’t need me/I’m gonna cry if you act like you don’t care.” Similarly in “Heal Me,” she says “When I can't inspire myself/I need you to provide for me.”

Ally and Jackson want to move past being “Shallow,” instead building a relationship that's authentic and real. Ally sings, “Tell me something, boy/Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?/Or do you need more?/Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore?” Similarly, in “Black Eyes” Jackson sings about how the pressures of stardom can feel suffocating at times.

In “Maybe It’s Time,” a man earnestly looks toward the future, striving to leave behind his former ways: “Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die/It takes a lot to change a man/ … I’m glad I can’t go back to where I came from.”

On grief-drenched “I’ll Never Love Again,” we hear, “Don’t wanna know another kiss/No other name falling off my lips/Don’t wanna give my heart away/To another stranger.”

Objectionable Content

Several tracks voice a desperate longing to be “saved” or “healed” by a significant other. But even though depending upon a loved one's strength can be a good thing, sometimes these two characters (and their songs) long for a kind of salvation that neither can provide.

On “Too Far Gone,” for instance, a man asks to be “set free.” In “Before I Cry,” a woman feels as if she’ll “lose it” without her man around. And in “Heal Me,” Ally sings about turning to a man for inspiration and seeking emotional healing through sex: “Dose me with your energy/Leave your soul inside of me/… Lay me down, touch my spirit, oh.”

In “Why Did You Do That?” a woman wants to get in bed with a man she finds physically attractive: “Why’d you come around me with an a-- like that?/You’re making all my thoughts obscene/… Boy, could you please stop being so fine?/When I stare at you I wish I were blind/'Cause I begin to lose control.” “Always Remember Us This Way” and “Music to My Ears” also include lyrics that allude to lovers between the sheets.

An unfaithful woman breaks the heart and morale of a man in “Diggin’ My Grave.” He cries, “Six feet under, baby, that’s where I’ll be/By the time that you’re done with me.” And in “Alibi” a man refuses to be held down by the woman he loves: “I love you in the morning," he says, but he later warns, "You know I’m bound to run.” Similarly, in “Look What I Found,” a heartbroken woman tries to drown her sorrows with alcohol: “I’m at the bottom of the bottle/I’m there knockin’ them down/ … Another piece of my heart/Just laying on the ground.”

Summary Advisory

In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Lady Gaga shared how thankful she was to have had a starring role in this film. Colbert, having previously seen the film, summarized it by calling it a "love story," but one that "also ends up being about fame and artists’ relationship with the audience … and substance abuse … and addiction.”

Plugged In reviewer Paul Asay had this to say about it:

"As strong as Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performances are, and as palpable as these talented actors' chemistry may be, moviegoers should approach this film with deep caution. In fact, it's this film’s very quality that make it that much more ticklish."

I think both of those perspectives are reflected in this soundtrack. It's often deeply moving as this story's two characters each reveal more of their battered and beaten souls to each other. Accordingly, many of these songs express a desire for emotional intimacy, voicing our core human desire to love and be loved, to know and be known.

However, that doesn’t mean that the soundtrack is without its own issues. Songs touch on themes such as sex, substance abuse, depression and even death. These lyrics (and occasional profanity) aren't as explicit as some scenes in the movie itself. But it's impossible to escape this soundtrack's deeply melancholy vibe, one in which beauty and brokenness often walk hand in hand.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Debuted at No. 1.

Record Label

Interscope

Platform

Publisher

Released

October 5, 2018

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

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