The soundtrack for the new box office smash Top Gun: Maverick includes the latest song from Academy Award and Grammy-winning artist Lady Gaga. Not only has she become an icon for her work as a recording artist – as of 2022, she has released seven studio albums that span from dance pop to jazz – but Lady Gaga has also become known for her film work.
As an actress, Gaga’s breakout role was in Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born, which she followed up last year with Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci. However, Gaga has also contributed a library of new music to various films.
10 “Heal Me” from A Star Is Born
The soundtrack for Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut contains nearly 20 songs, most of which were specifically written for the film. “Heal Me” appears at the point in the film in which Ally (Gaga) attempts to regain some level of creative control. She performs the song without any backup dancers, only to be ruthlessly criticized by her manager for going against his advice.
The song demonstrates Ally’s pop sound without Jackson Maine’s (Cooper) involvement. The lighter sound and contemporary pop production highlights the differences between the musical stylings of the film’s lead characters. The song also showcases Gaga’s voice in a unique way, leaning on her softer, breathier vocals that contrast well with her other vocal performances in the film.
9 “Hair Body Face” from A Star Is Born
“Hair Body Face” marks another pop song in the trajectory of Ally’s fictional music career as she prepares for the launch of her first album. The song is used during a rehearsal scene, in which Ally works on flashy choreography for an upcoming performance. At this point in the film, Jackson has already become critical of Ally’s new image, and this song effectively heightens the tension.
While the song is only briefly used in the film, “Hair Body Face” seems to be the most obvious nod to early songs in Lady Gaga’s own career as a pop star. Her first studio albums, The Fame and Born This Way included a plethora of dance pop empowerment anthems, and “Hair Body Face” is the kind of song that could easily appear on either album. This moment serves as one of many subtle references to Gaga’s own singing career.
8 “Why Did You Do That?” from A Star Is Born
Co-written with film songwriting expert Diane Warren, “Why Did You Do That?” caused a ton of speculation as to whether or not the song was intended to be constructed as a “bad pop song.” In the film, Ally performs “Why Did You Do That?” on Saturday Night Live, and it is the first time Jackson and the audience see her as a full-fledged pop star.
Although the lyrics are considerably more simplistic than the other original songs written for A Star is Born, “Why Did You Do That?” effectively serves as the catalyst for conflict between the film’s central lead characters, thereby achieving what the film needs at that moment. Furthermore, with its contemporary references, the song highlights generational differences between Ally and Jackson that further explain Jackson’s lack of appreciation for her new music.
7 “Look What I Found” from A Star Is Born
“Look What I Found” appears in the second act of the film as Ally begins to record her own music. She is at first intimidated by the setup of the recording session, and Jackson helps by advising Ally to play the piano as she sings since that will likely provide familiarity and comfort. Once Ally follows Jackson’s advice, the recording session runs smoothly.
“Look What I Found” reflects the collaboration between Ally and Jackson in her early songwriting. Lyrically, the song reflects Ally’s newfound love, but there are also allusions to themes of loneliness and alcoholism that come into play later in the film. The scene in which Ally records the song exemplifies Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s on-screen chemistry while also reinforcing the overarching theme of the importance of imbuing one’s music with authenticity.
6 “Is That Alright?” from A Star Is Born
Though the song does not appear in its entirety in the film, “Is That Alright?” plays over the credits at the end of A Star Is Born. The track is written in the voice of Ally’s character and seems to be a love song for Jackson, composed as a vulnerable piano ballad in the same vein as “Shallow” and “I’ll Never Love Again.”
Since the film itself is structured around a few emotional piano ballads already, it makes sense why “Is That Alright?” did not get its own musical scene in the final cut. However, the song still adds to the characterization of the central relationship Furthermore, Gaga’s impressive vocal performance shifts from uninhibited belting to soft vulnerable whispers, which add another beautiful layer of contrast to the song.
5 “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick
Gaga’s latest venture into film was her contribution to the soundtrack of the highly anticipated sequel to Tony Scott’s 1986 film Top Gun. The original Top Gun won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Take My Breath Away,” a melody that became emblematic of the film itself.
“Hold My Hand” seems to be written with an awareness of the anthemic soundtrack from the first film, thereby aiming to achieve the same power and impact. Gaga’s vocals soar here in a ballad that heavily relies on the performance of the singer rather than production or instrumentation. The release of “Hold My Hand” as the first single off of the soundtrack immediately puts the song in the conversation for next year’s Academy Awards.
4 “Always Remember Us This Way” from A Star Is Born
The second single off of the Star is Born soundtrack was one of the biggest hits from the film, even achieving a Grammy Award nomination for Song of the Year. “Always Remember Us This Way” is one of the few musical numbers that is performed in its entirety within the story of the film.
It is the first time Ally performs a song without Jackson, and the song achieves the emotional resonance of the moment. Ally’s talent is not one that is molded and shaped by Jackson’s influence; rather, she can hold her own on a stage. At the same time, “Always Remember Us This Way” captures the two lead character’s process of falling in love while encapsulating the impulsive and ultimately rewarding energy of writing and performing new music while on tour.
3 “I’ll Never Love Again” from A Star Is Born
The tragic ending of A Star Is Born features the third and final single from the soundtrack: “I’ll Never Love Again.” After a second and third act in which Ally largely sings highly stylized pop music, she returns to her roots with this power ballad backed by a simple piano melody.
The song and scene heavily rely on Lady Gaga’s performance, one that is reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s work in The Bodyguard. Furthermore, despite the fact that this was Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, he makes a bold filmmaking choice at the end of the song. Rather than ending with a traditional big finish, he cuts to an intimate flashback in which Jackson first plays the song’s melody to Ally. This abrupt but moving transition from the epic to the intimate mirrors the effect of the music.
2 “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground
Lady Gaga’s first original song for a motion picture was not written for A Star is Born, but rather it was for the chilling documentary The Hunting Ground, which examines campus sexual assault in the United States. Co-written with Diane Warren, the song garnered universal acclaim and Gaga received her first Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.
The lyrics and music video for “Til It Happens To You” powerfully communicate the anguish and resilience of survivors. When Lady Gaga was given the opportunity to perform the song at the Academy Awards, she did so while accompanied by a group of young survivors on stage, further driving home the disturbing immediacy of the issue. “Til It Happens To You” stands apart from other material Gaga has written for motion pictures, proving that she can write and perform music that covers a wide array of subject matter.
1 “Shallow” From A Star Is Born
The lead single from A Star Is Born was first introduced in the trailer and later reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Lady Gaga co-wrote “Shallow” with Mark Ronson and performed the duet with Bradley Cooper. For this song alone, Gaga won both an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
“Shallow” is a major turning point in the film, as Ally is quickly invited to the stage to perform her song with Jackson. The performance and filmmaking style capture Ally’s vulnerability and strength along with the intensity and pressure of the given circumstances. “Shallow” would become one of Lady Gaga’s most recognizable songs, and it embodies how well-suited she is at writing original music for film, as the song is seamlessly incorporated into the film’s plot, themes, and mood.
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