grammys 2019

How ‘Shallow’ Could Make History at the Grammys

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Photo: Clay Enos/Warner Bros.

How many more chances will Bradley Cooper have to pee himself on the Grammys stage? More than you think! If you’ve yet to see A Star Is Born, somehow muted the internet the last few months, and are now thinking, Bradley Cooper? Pee?? Grammys????? Oh my!, let’s recap: The turning point in the film famously occurs when Aly (Lady Gaga) transitions out from under Jackson Maine’s (Bradley Cooper) songwriting shadow and goes Full Pop, garnering three Grammy nominations. And when her moment to shine comes, mid–acceptance speech for Best New Artist, Maine literally pisses all over it. He drunkenly crawls onstage despite having no business being up there, loiters around in the background while Aly tries to remain calm, then urinates down his pant leg on live television.

Though Cooper, who directed the film, probably didn’t mean at the time for that scene to have such meta potential, here we are. Going into this Sunday’s real-life Grammys, Cooper and Gaga’s anthem from the song, “Shallow,” is up for four awards, including two of the night’s biggest: Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and Best Song Written for Visual Media. And Gaga is expected to perform it with Mark Ronson, one of the song’s writers. All of which is to say, there’s a high chance “Shallow” will become a Grammy winner in some capacity. In fact, as Vulture predicted, we’re sure of it in at least three of the four categories. Sure, it’s the Oscar “Shallow” will ultimately care most about (and will probably also get), but there’s significance to its likely Grammy dominance at play, too.

During the ’90s and into the early 2000s, the soundtrack boom was in full swing. The Bodyguard and O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtracks won Album of the Year in 1994 and 2002, while Whitney Houston also picked up Record of the Year in 1994 for “I Will Always Love You.” She then lost Song of the Year that same year to another soundtrack song, “A Whole New World,” from Aladdin. Meanwhile, Eric Clapton won Record of the Year twice for soundtrack songs (“Tears in Heaven” and “Change the World”), and Seal’s Batman Forever song “Kiss From a Rose” won the award, too. Just a few years later, soundtracks were back to picking up Grammy gold when Céline Dion pulled off the double-win of Song and Record of the Year in 1999 for Titanic’s “My Heart Will Go On.” But in the 20 years since, soundtracks seemed to lose their luster with the occasional exception (see: “Let It Go” and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”).

2018 shook things up a bit by bringing soundtracks back to relevance. Of course, the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtracks had produced hits before then, and late 2017’s The Greatest Showman set new chart milestones for a soundtrack; but as “Let It Go” had previously proved, at least to the Grammys, musicals don’t get quite the same respect. What’s changed is musicians taking more of a vested, hands-on interest in film, rather than coming in late to the game to sign on to sing these movies’ theme song. (Think those recent Bond songs.) Kendrick Lamar agreed to curate and executive-produce the Black Panther soundtrack, now it’s up for Album of the Year, the first in 17 years. Gaga added actress to her multi-hyphenate résumé years ago, and as Aly in A Star Is Born, took on the dual role of lead in both the film and its soundtrack. With the help of Bradley Cooper and some, uh, choice guttural wailing, she turned “Shallow” into a Hot 100 hit and, now, Grammy and Oscar nominations.

If “Shallow” wins Record or Song of the Year on Sunday, it’ll be the first soundtrack song to do so since Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” making it the first song in 20 years to successfully marry film and music in a culturally penetrable way. Sadly, Cooper intends to deny us a chance to take another look at his uncontrollable bladder because he’ll reportedly be at the BAFTAs that same night.

2019 Grammys: How ‘Shallow’ Could Make History