A Star Is Born isn’t just a movie about, well, stardom — it’s about music, which immediately became clear to audiences thanks to a little song called “Shallow” that prominently featured in the movie’s trailer.
And now that the film has dropped, and has subsequently captured the hearts of critics and audiences alike, another song has become popular among fans: “Why Did You Do That?” performed in the movie by Lady Gaga as now-superstar Ally on Saturday Night Live.
It’s a campy, over-the-top pop track with ridiculous lyrics about texting and praying, and also about butts. At the same time, it’s an absurdly catchy song, and you’ll probably even hear a handful of remixes blasting in nightclubs over the next six months. So the real question now is: is “Why Did You Do That?” a good pop song? Or is it purposely engineered to be not-so-good, as proof that the movie thinks rock music is the more authentic genre?
“Why Did You Do That?” was written by Gaga and nine-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren, along with Mark Nilan Jr., Nick Monson, and Paul “DJWS” Blair. With regard to the song, Warren told The New York Times that, actually...it’s not supposed to be bad.
“I would never purposefully sit down to write a bad song, although I guess I’ve done some without trying that turned out that way,” Warren said. “I love fun pop songs. Not everything has to be serious all the time...The directive was just to write a fun song, something that shows [Ally’s] becoming this pop artist.”
As the film tells the story of musicians Jackson Maine and Ally Campana (Bradley Cooper and Gaga, respectively) as they fall in love amidst her rising fame, the music plays a pivotal role in expressing where the pair are, both in their careers and their relationship. And while we all know that Gaga knows her way around a damn good pop song (and performance), one moment where the audience was meant to take pause is during her character’s live television debut, where she unveiled “Why Did You Do That?” as her new single.
It was a moment in the film where Cooper’s Jackson looked on in disbelief and disappointment, where his character saw Gaga’s Ally supposedly “selling out.” And while viewers parsed out the implications of what we consider to be “good” music versus “bad” music (and people certainly did), Warren told the NYT that the song was meant to spark a similar tension on-screen.
“I love that [Ally] defended her music. It doesn’t have to be what [Jackson] thinks music should be — music can be everything. It can be a serious song, it can be a pop song, it can be a song about an ass,” Warren said. “But by the way, maybe her true voice is being a pop star, you know? And that’s okay, if that’s who you are.”