It’s an oscar tradition for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to outdo itself each year in pursuit of luxury, elegance, and spectacle. But a quiet duet at the ninety-first Academy Awards, held earlier this year, marked a ceremony highlight: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performing “Shallow” from A Star Is Born.

Gaga won Best Original Song for “Shallow” that night, marking the first time the music legend had earned an Oscar. She played the lead in the film, alongside actor-director Cooper. She shared the honor with co-writers Mark Daniel Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt. “This is hard work,” Gaga noted upon receiving her Oscar. 

“I’ve worked hard for a long time,” she continued, “and it’s not about winning. What it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. It’s about discipline, over passion, and it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and keep on going.”

The Oscars performance of “Shallow” began with a phalanx of stagehands moving a walnut Steinway grand downstage while a guitar and bass played upstage. Cooper and Gaga, holding hands, stood up from the front row of the house and came onstage to perform. After Cooper’s opening verse, Lady Gaga took a seat at the Steinway for her second verse, blowing away the crowd during the “I’m off the deep end” bridge. She was then joined by Cooper on the piano bench for the final chorus. The chemistry was electric, as was the reception.

On The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ronson revealed that the staging of the performance was Cooper’s idea, who was terrified about singing live. “I think [Cooper] had a specific vision,” Ronson told DeGeneres. “And I think that’s probably the only time they’ll perform the song together, so it made it feel really special.” 

Photos: Aaron Poole/Phil McCarten, A.M.P.A.S.

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