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Eight Lady Gaga deep cuts you need to listen to after the A Star Is Born soundtrack.

So we’ve established by now that Lady Gaga is one of the most talented musicians of our time, and a brilliant, award-worthy actress in A Star Is Born. You could say a Star Is Born This Way… couldn’t you?

Over 10 years and six albums (including her Tony Bennett jazz collab Cheek To Cheek and the A Star Is Born soundtrack), Stefani Germanotta, as she was born, has shapeshifted through different images, sounds and ‘eras’. But one thing she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for is her ability as a songwriter.

With lead songwriting credits on 13 songs of the A Star Is Born soundtrack – the current ARIA number one album that boasts a number one single in her spine-tingling duet with co-star Bradley Cooper, ‘Shallow’ – Gaga has converted even the cynics.

As Cooper’s Jackson Maine says to Gaga’s aspiring singer-songwriter Ally, “Talent is everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it so people listen to it, that’s a whole other bag.”

This is the part where I declare my card: I’ve been a Little Monster from way back. With each album, I’ve loved seeing how Gaga’s singles came to life in elaborate music videos and performances, and lingered on the many, many songs that have all been worthy of being singles.

Gaga has always juggled extroverted dance-pop with introverted balladry, which is why she has such a deep connection with her fans. We know her because we are her – strong and vulnerable.

The strength and vulnerability Gaga gave voice to while playing Ally has always been there in her own music. She sings of love, loneliness, co-dependent relationships, personal independence, liberation, loss and fame (indeed, her debut album was The Fame).

There are some sorely underrated masterpieces in Gaga’s back catalogue, so in my humble opinion, you should revisit or discover these songs after you’ve repeated the A Star Is Born soundtrack for the 200th time this week:

‘Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)’

From her debut album, this cherry pie of a track was only released as a single in Australia, New Zealand and a few European countries, accompanied by a gorgeous music video that sees Gaga tapping into her Italian roots with healthy doses of pasta and pashing in Manhattan’s Little Italy. The song’s theme is around moving on with someone new and having nothing but “eh, eh” to say to your ex. It’s simple pop brilliance. And it could easily sit alongside the pop moments of A Star Is Born like ‘Heal Me’ and ‘Hair Body Face’.

‘Brown Eyes’

Also from Gaga’s first album, ‘Brown Eyes’ would feel more at home on the A Star Is Born soundtrack than the disco-pop flavourings of The Fame. As Gaga once said, “I wrote that song a long time ago and I had never had my heart broken like I had when I wrote that record. That was one of those 3am, crying in my apartment at the piano… one foot on the bed and one foot on the floor.” The vocals were recorded in one single take, after “a lot of red wine and crying”, Gaga said. It’s a torch song that holds up well a decade later.

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‘Hair’

Gaga’s 2011 album Born This Way is a fast-paced, crunchy metallic pop record that hits you like a force of nature. ‘Hair’ is an anthem of self-expression and liberation, and a plea to “love me for who I am”. As Gaga explained on Twitter, “When I was a kid, I used to always come down the stairs of my parents’ house, and they would say, ‘Go back upstairs and brush your hair, change your clothes, you can’t go out wearing that’, and I felt like it was stifling my identity… My hair was my glory. It was the only thing that I could change about myself.” She sings in the chorus: “I’ve had enough, this is my prayer, that I’ll die living just as free as my hair.” Makes you think a little differently about Ally’s hair change in A Star Is Born, perhaps?

‘Gypsy’

In 2013, Gaga dropped her third album Artpop. While ‘Applause’ was a hit, other singles failed to resonate, which is a shame because this album is packed with hidden gems. ‘Gypsy’ is one of the most magical songs Gaga’s ever penned, beginning with just vocals and piano, and ending in a wild, bubbly, vibrant rave. It’s at once a bittersweet ode and a celebration of life as a lonely ‘gypsy’ eternally on the run. It has the intimacy of a love letter, yet opens up into a roaring stadium of like-minded lost souls, connected across borders. “I don’t wanna be alone forever, but I can be tonight…” is typical of Gaga’s ‘march through the pain’ gusto.

‘Dope’

‘Dope’ is one of Gaga’s most difficult songs to listen to. It’s raw, it’s dark, and I’ll admit… if I’m casually listening to Artpop I often skip past it because it just hurts. ‘Dope’ details Gaga’s drug addiction after her hip surgery and the cancellation of a leg of her Born This Way Ball tour. “I was just numbing, numbing, numbing myself then sleeping it off, then getting on stage, killing it in pain, then getting off and smoking, smoking, smoking, not knowing what pain was,” Gaga told E!. “F**k, if I know what hurts the most, you know? I would break the habit and it would sneak back in and I would break it and sneak back in.” In a lot of ways, ‘Dope’ could be a song about Jackson Maine.

‘Til It Happens to You’

As Oscar talk swirls around Gaga right now, it’s worth revisiting the source of her first Oscar nomination – the 2015 song she co-wrote with songwriting legend Diane Warren, ‘Til It Happens to You’. Nominated in the Best Song category, this brittle ballad was made for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which dealt with campus rape in the US. The topic is deeply personal for Gaga, who has spoken about her own rape at just 19. While the song starts in a place of hurt, it ends in a crescendo of empowerment – strength and defiance in the face of adversity. As Gaga told the LA Times, “In the end of the song, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I was abused. So what? You don’t want to meet me in an alleyway’. Then it belongs to you. But I was just saying to someone, you don’t know how much it’s destroyed you until 10 years later. I used to be this, then I realise I’m not like that anymore because I was destroyed. But now I’m back.”

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‘Joanne’

The title track from her 2016 country dive bar rebrand, ‘Joanne’ is a tender, haunting ballad devoted to Gaga’s aunt who died of lupus aged 19. “My connection to her has been strong my whole life,” Gaga told E! News. “I always wondered what it was – the mystery of Joanne – this person that I never got to meet that was an absolute tornado of both love and tragedy… She was a powerful, beautiful force in my family’s life and then it’s like a beautiful light that just goes out, so I’ve always used the fact that she didn’t get to live the rest of her life as a sense of strength and power within me that I have to go out and live the rest for her.” While this plaintive, sweeping track cuts deep, the result is something healing and beautiful. Listen to it after you listen to ‘Shallow’.

‘The Cure’

Gaga is a hopeless romantic like the rest of us. While she can pull off a meaty breakup song (‘A Million Reasons’, anyone?), rising like a Phoenix from the flames is her hallmark. ‘The Cure’ was released as a one-off non-album single in 2017 just for a bit of old-school pop-dance fun. The timing was important – Gaga had been battling her chronic pain condition, fibromyalgia, and recovering from her breakup with ex-fiance Taylor Kinney. Despite it all, the song is an uplifting ode to getting back up – and it’s danceable as hell. ‘The Cure’ was produced right before Gaga’s work on A Star Is Born with her long-time collaborator DJ White Shadow, so it’s got the sparkly sheen of her later songs in the film.

Gaga is one star who continues to be born and reborn, and songs like these are testament to that. Have a listen, and share with us the songs you love from Gaga’s back catalogue.

Need someone to debrief about A Star Is Born with? Mamamia’s Holly Wainwright, Rachel Corbett and Leigh Campbell are your women:

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