It's the debate that's divided the internet: Is the pop music in A Star Is Born good or bad?

In the film, troubled alt-country singer Jackson Maine (played by the film's director, Bradley Cooper) takes issue with the pop-heavy offerings on the debut album of his wife, Ally (Lady Gaga), who has hit fame after singing several of her thoughtful, original songs on his tour. Jack is particularly irked by Why Did You Do That?, a candy-coated earworm that begins with Ally asking: "Why do you look so good in those jeans?"

Why Did You Do That? is at the centre of the debate around pop music in the film. The song is ridiculously catchy, but there's a sense of guilty pleasure-ness to it - mostly because Jack seems to hate it so much. An assortment of memes and GIFs is devoted to people grappling with this tension.

Paul Blair, who goes by the moniker DJ White Shadow, helped write and produce six of the 19 songs featured on the film's chart-topping soundtrack, including the schismatic Why Did You Do That?


Blair told The Washington Post that the song, which also counts pop hitmaker Diane Warren and Gaga among its writers, was not - as some suggested - intended to be bad. It was written to occupy a specific place in the film. Ally sings it on Saturday Night Live as her career is taking off. As a result, it had to be "more bubbly and mainstream", Blair said.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga star in A Star is Born.
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga star in A Star is Born.

Blair thought Jackson's reaction to the song was really about his resentment of Ally's fame.

"It doesn't matter what the song was. It doesn't matter what she wrote - it would have sucked to him," Blair said. "He's upset that she's killing it and he's not killing it any more."

Regardless of which side of the argument you're on, it helps to understand how the music in the film came together.

Blair is one of Gaga's frequent collaborators - they teamed up on her 2011 album Born This Way, and her 2013 effort ArtPop.

He described the soundtrack as "a moving target" and likened its evolution to planting a tree and continually picking fruit off of it. For every song that made it onto the album, Blair estimates they wrote at least four others, in various iterations.

A Star Is Born Soundtrack cover.
A Star Is Born Soundtrack cover.

That meant options when it came to picking, for example, the song that Ally would perform on Saturday Night Live or the one she'd write on the heels of her marriage to Jack. The latter became Is That Alright?, the ballad that plays during the film's credits, and is one of five songs from A Star Is Born on the Billboard 100 chart. (It also is Blair's favourite song on the soundtrack.) It's easy to imagine the bass-thumping Hair Body Face, which Blair says is "next door to the Why Did You Do That? house", having SNL potential.

Gaga was deeply involved in the process, which Blair said was typical of the singer-songwriter.


"She's the architect, she's the conductor," he said. And while Cooper co-wrote many of the songs performed by Jack, Blair said the first-time director stayed true to his character, distancing himself from the process when it came to Ally's songs.

"For her songs as Ally, we kind of wrote them in a bubble," Blair said. "Just to keep the ideas genuine to the way it played out on screen."