Pop sensation Lady Gaga gained fame with songs like “Telephone,” “Just Dance,” and “Bad Romance.” Her powerful vocals have always meshed with an upbeat pop tune that’s perfectly at home in clubs and dance venues. Now, she’s going a slightly different direction with her emotional performance of “I’ll Never Love Again” from “A Star is Born.”
The singer is still a relative newcomer to the silver screen. She plays Ally in the 2018 film “A Star is Born,” starring alongside Bradley Cooper in his directorial debut.
The pop star’s realistic heartbreak was … well, real.
The real reason behind Lady Gaga’s emotional performance? Learning that her friend had died of cancer just moments before.
“My very, very, very dear friend Sonja [Durham] died of cancer that day,” she said. “We were supposed to shoot in, like, 30 minutes, and I left the set because her husband called me, and I could hear her in the background and I just got in the car and drove. I missed her by 15 minutes, and she died.”
The emotion in Lady Gaga’s voice is clear, especially as the song climbs to its finale. “I’ll Never Love Again” is the final song in the film, and her powerful performance echoes the journey of her character, Ally.
Lady Gaga says she was grateful for Cooper’s support.
“When I came back, Bradley was so gentle with me and we got through it,” she said. “I performed the song. He was like, ‘You don’t have to do it again. It’s OK.’ All I wanted to do was sing. I’ll never forget that day. It was really a special scene, and I’ll always remember that moment.”
Lady Gaga’s powerful vocals and immense range are perfectly suited to the ballad. Now, the song is breaking her previous chart records.
It’s a big change from the upbeat dance vocals that propelled the singer to fame back in the 2000s.
“A Star is Born” is one of Lady Gaga’s biggest film roles to date. She had an extensive hand in some of the film’s decisions, including convincing Cooper to use live vocals instead of pre-recording and then filming actors lip-synching. Lady Gaga said she had previously been annoyed by watching poorly dubbed musical movies and preferred the look of live performance. Cooper agreed, and live vocals were used in the final cut of the film.
Lady Gaga also co-wrote several of the film’s songs along with Cooper, Mark Ronson, Jason Isbell, and Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson.
Cooper also campaigned hard for Lady Gaga to play the leading female role in the film. Studio executives were interested in Beyoncé, but Cooper convinced them by showing them a video of him singing with Lady Gaga.
Cooper says she was instrumental in nailing the feeling of the movie.
The actor also credits the pop star for the film’s raw authenticity.
“I wanted to tell a love story, and to me, there’s no better way than through music,” Cooper said. “With music, it’s impossible to hide. Every fiber of your body becomes alive when you sing. All the music is as real as you can get it. At Stagecoach, four minutes before Willie Nelson went on, we hopped onstage. That was real. At Glastonbury, I got onstage in front of 80,000 people. It was nuts.
“But Lady Gaga is so good that if the world I’d created wasn’t authentic, it would stand out in a second. Everything had to be raised to her level.”
Cooper’s retelling of a classic brings the story into 2018.
“A Star is Born” is a retelling of an iconic love story that has been adapted four times in film. Its earliest version was in 1937. It was reprised in 1954 and 1976, starring Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, respectively. Cooper’s adaptation brings the story into the present day, adding new elements and, of course, new music. It takes the previous versions as a foundation and fleshes the characters out.
The film tells the story of Jack and Ally, two musicians whose careers collide with their romantic relationship. While Ally is a rising star on the move, Jack, her mentor, is a once-great rock star now succumbing to addiction.
You may want to bring some tissues.
Since the film’s release on Oct. 5, it has been met with acclaim. It currently has a 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the top movie review websites.
As for Lady Gaga’s tear-stirring ballad, its lyrics bring the film and characters into focus. It’s a raw and powerful experience that will move viewers to tears.
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