Mark Ronson Talks Grammy- & Globe-Nominated 'Shallow,' Forgetting Just How Famous Lady Gaga & Miley Cyrus Are
"I've been wanting to work with Miley for so long," Ronson tells Billboard's Pop Shop Podcast of teaming with Cyrus for "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart."
When Mark Ronson signed on to work with Lady Gaga on her most recent album, he never could have predicted that it would lead to his very first Golden Globe nomination. But at the same time that Gaga was crafting what would become 2016's Joanne, she and Bradley Cooper were also in the process of making music for their A Star Is Born characters Ally and Jackson Maine.
"As soon as her and Bradley got into the film, the entire Joanne album just turned into A Star Is Born for a couple of weeks," Ronson tells Billboard's Pop Shop Podcast on Thursday, just hours after learning that "Shallow" -- the song he co-wrote with Gaga for the film -- is nominated for best original song - motion picture at next month's Golden Globes. The following day, he would earn two additional nominations for the track -- song of the year and best song written for visual media -- at the 2019 Grammy Awards (not to mention a best dance recording nod for Silk City's "Electricity," featuring Dua Lipa).
"Originally, it was just an Ally song, it was just for Gaga to sing, and I never realized it was a duet," Ronson says of how the song evolved into the Gaga and Cooper centerpiece it became. "I certainly never realized it was going to be part of the plot, the narrative in the parking lot, which is really such a beautiful scene. I think taking anything personal out of the film, like my involvement, you really get that first part of falling in love or having a crazy crush on someone in the moment. It does it really well without being cheesy."
Ronson had already become pretty comfortable with Gaga during the making of Joanne, but he never quite got over the movie-star aura of Cooper, who directed and played lead in the latest A Star Is Born remake. "I'm a big fan of Bradley Cooper already," he says. "The first time he came into the studio, I was a little starstruck. I feel weird saying that because we're kind of friendly, but he does like... glow. I don't know what it is. Bradley Cooper is also one of those special actors that all dudes like because it doesn't matter that he's impossibly handsome and all that shit, because there's no vanity to him and he just seems like a guy that you want to hang out with."
While Ronson's 2019 is already getting pretty busy with awards ceremonies, he has his own new album, Late Night Feelings, coming next year too. The lead single from the project is the country-disco banger "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart," featuring Miley Cyrus' perfect Nashville rasp.
"When we came up with the chorus, it felt kind of special," Ronson says of the song, which debuts on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. "I came up with the chorus with Tommy Brenneck and Ilsey Juber, this fantastic songwriter, and when she said that line -- 'nothing breaks like a heart' -- I was like, 'That can't be that no one's ever said that in the history of songs, right?' I think they probably looked it up real quick and were like 'No.' It's like what you're searching for your whole life.
"I've been wanting to work with Miley for so long, and I sent her the little chorus idea and she loved it and she came in and wrote the verses and the bridge."
Ronson worried it might be a little too "left-field" for Spotify or the radio, but he also notes that some of his biggest projects -- Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" or "Locked Out of Heaven" and "Uptown Funk!" with Bruno Mars -- also didn't seem like they would fit in at the time. "They're a bit of a bigger risk, but then if they work, they really stand out," he says. "It's still early, but it's really kind of what I had hoped would happen [with 'Nothing Breaks Like a Heart']."
As for finally teaming up with Cyrus, Ronson says she's "so down to earth." "I sometimes forget -- the same thing when I was working with Gaga -- that like, 'Oh my God, this person has 75 million followers on Instagram and can tweet one thing, and 300 people would go get a tattoo.'"
Also on the podcast, Keith & Katie break down the rest of the Grammy and Golden Globe nominations, and take a closer look at the snubs and surprises based on our previous Pop Shop predictions.
The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard's weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard's senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)
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