Even if you haven’t seen Bradley Cooper’s Oscar nominated directorial debut A Star is Born, there’s no way the buzz has escaped you. The movie soundtrack’s biggest hit, “Shallow,” has swept the radio airwaves, and Cooper and Lady Gaga’s passionate performance at the Oscars stole the show.
What separates this fourth version of A Star is Born from its predecessors is its incredible soundtrack. Intricately composed with a combination of live and recorded audio, the soundtrack viscerally transports the listener back in the thick of the film, lights flashing on Jack and Ally as their star–crossed love story takes place.
In light of other music–dominated films (looking at you, Bohemian Rhapsody) being carried by already famous songs, it’s extraordinary that A Star is Born couples it’s actors’ incredible performances with several, exceptional original songs. The genre diversity of the soundtrack is very notable as well. The film struts country rock ballads, intimate acoustic solo acts, and glamorous pop bangers all in a span of 134 minutes.
This enormous feat of musical composition and production was made possible through extensive collaboration. While Cooper and Gaga truly had their hands in much of the song development, an impressive team of songwriters were brought on to assist in the soundtrack’s writing and production.
In popular culture, the spotlight is often on the performers while songwriters are quietly unrecognized and underpaid with very low streaming royalties, so we’ve decided to highlight a few of the songwriters responsible for the A Star is Born soundtrack. Below are a few of the many writers who have solo albums of their own.
Brandi Carlile and Marlon Williams
Technically, Carlile and Williams are not mentioned in the songwriting credits for the soundtrack. However, they perform a duet of Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman" at the fictional Grammys where Jackson performs piss drunk.
It's fitting that Carlile performed at the fiction Grammys, because she's a three–time Grammy award winning singer–songwriter herself. The musician behind the iconic "The Story," Carlile's songs range from folk to country rock. Listen to her most recent release, "Party Of One," featuring Sam Smith here.
Williams is a New Zealand singer-songwriter with stylistic versatility and vocal chops. Previously, Williams was the frontman for The Unfaithful Ways, and his more recent solo work consists of two spacey indie folk records. Listen to his sophomore album "Make Way for Love" here.
Cooper discovered Lukas Nelson after seeing him open for Neil Young in October 2016 and subsequently asked him to work on the soundtrack for the film. Nelson brings his country expertise to the hard rock tracks off the soundtrack like “Alibi” and “Black Eyes.”
The son of country legend Willie Nelson, Lukas and his band, Promise of the Real, formed after he met drummer Anthony LoGerfo also at a Neil Young concert in Los Angeles. The band incorporates elements of americana, country, hard rock, and reggae into their unique style.
Listen to Luke Nelson & Promise of The Real’s self titled debut here.
After separating from the Alabama country rock band Drive By Truckers in 2007, Isbell’s solo career has flourished. An excellent songwriter and discerning lyricist, Isbell pours his heart into each of his elegant country tunes.
For A Star is Born, Isbell wrote “Maybe It’s Time,” which Cooper describes as “the staple, the sword with which a lot of the music spawned from me.”
Isbell recently visited Penn for the annual Blutt Singer–Songwriter Symposium at Kelly Writers House where he was interviewed by Penn professor Anthony DeCurtis. There, Isbell performed the song “If We Were Vampires” of his latest record with the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound, as well as a cover of "Maybe It's Time."
Previously, Mark Ronson produced Lady Gaga’s most recent album Joanne. Seeing him collaborate on a country soundtrack may come as a surprise at first glance. After all, this is the man responsible for Bruno Mars’ smash hit “Uptown Funk.” Take a glance at his production discography, though, and it’s evident that Ronson’s musical expertise rejects genre constraints. From The Black Lips’ 2011 garage rock classic Arabia Mountain to Lil Wayne’s 2012 I Am Not A Human Being II, Ronson has produced for plenty of big names like Adele, Estelle, Ghostface Killah, and Amy Winehouse.
Listen to Mark Ronson’s latest release, “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart,” with Miley Cyrus.
DJ White Shadow
Paul Blair, or DJ White Shadow as he is known professionally, previously produced Lady Gaga’s two albums Born This Way and Artpop. Outside of producing for Gaga, DJ White Shadow released three electronic EP’s via DECON Records. His presence on the soundtrack explains the modern electropop hits like “Heal Me” and “I Don’t Know What Love Is.”
Listen to DJ White Shadow’s EP The Clock is Ticking here.
Natalie Hemby has written country songs for the likes of Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Kelly Clarkson, and Little Big Town. Her songwriting talents have lead to five Billboard #1 country hits, and her most recent work before A Star is Born was co–writing three songs off of Kacey Musgraves Grammy award winning album Golden Hour.
Listen to Hemby’s 2018 solo debut Paxico here.