The central question of Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut A Star Is Born has somehow boiled down to whether “Why Do You Do That?” is a parody meant to take a stab at all pop music or a straight-up bop. As a plot device, this song and Ally (Lady Ga Ga)’s corresponding back-up dancer-filled Saturday Night Live performance demonstrates Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper)’s sense that Ally has abandoned her own authenticity. What’s unclear whether the film itself shares this disdain. If the song is meant to be bad, that means the story pretty clearly equates pop with bad music and rock with good music which would be a misguided and overly broad take on the current musical landscape. Sensing a jab at pop as a genre, some viewers have reclaimed “Why Did You Do That?,” pointing out that it kind of “slaps,” playing it in clubs, and setting it to everything from robot demonstrations to Pokémon choreography. So there, Bradley! But wait a minute, if the song is actually good, maybe the movie isn’t prejudiced against pop is just presenting Jack’s reaction. After all isn’t the whole plot based around his deteriorating cultural relevance? Hopefully we can at least try to solve this circular debate now that the songwriter herself has weighed in with some answers.
In a New York Times interview nine-time Oscar nominee and veteran song writer Diane Warren revealed that her intention was never for the song 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,” said Warren, “This was a fun song, and I love fun pop songs. Not everything has to be serious all the time.” As for Jackson Maine’s derision towards the lyrics, Warren said, “It surprised me when I saw it! I was sitting next to my friend and I jabbed her in the arm and went, ‘That’s my line he’s quoting!’ I love that her character defended her music. It doesn’t have to be what he thinks music should be.”