The duo’s award was presented by Bernie Taupin, the famed lyricist and longtime writing partner with Sir Elton John. “A lot of great people can write a lot of great songs with a lot of outside help, but not many find their one true songwriting partner that can truly cut through the noise and drive straight to the heart, with a simple idea, a melody, and lyrics that can lift the world and touch us all,” Taupin said on stage.
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“Much like I’ve been blessed with my songwriting partner of the last 56 years,” said Taupin. “These two, Billie and Finneas, have each other and have that gift – the gift of songwriting. True songwriting teams are a dying breed and these two, thankfully, have resurrected that art.”
After thanking Taupin in her acceptance speech, Eilish acknowledged the artists, producers and others at Variety‘s Hitmakers event, saying that she’s admired many of those in room since she “was a little kid.”
Eilish then thanked “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig, saying, “I want to thank Greta Gerwig for being such a fucking pro and being the most talented bitch in the world, and I just feel very lucky we were even thought of to make this song, and I thank God it happened at all because I feel like it saved us from a creative meltdown.”
In a story for Variety, Eilish and Finneas talked about the making of “What Was I Made For?” which was featured at the emotional climax of Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and spawned a viral TikTok trend.
“I remember everybody being like, ‘What the hell? It’s gonna be a fun, cute, girly, pink movie for the summer and we’re all going to be laughing. What the fuck is Billie doing on the soundtrack? Why is there going to be a sad song? That doesn’t make any sense,” Eilish said. “And I remember just being like, ‘Guys. It’s not me, it’s the movie. The movie is fucking sad!’”
She and Finneas were inspired by the penultimate scene in which Barbie embraces being all that is human — anxiety and mortality included. But they also took the cue for the opening lines from the first hints of Barbie’s existential crisis in the film’s opening.
Added Finneas, “The other thing that’s funny [about writing for a film] is that you set out to write a song about Barbie for the “Barbie” movie and end up writing, in Billie’s case, exactly how she feels. You’re like, “Oh, let me speak from this character’s perspective,” and you say something that you maybe weren’t even brave enough to say about yourself.”
Variety‘s 2023 Hitmakers brunch was held at Nya Studios in Hollywood on Dec. 2 and celebrated the year’s best songs and the industry’s top execs, artists and creatives.
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