Billie Eilish's Oscar-winning ‘What Was I Made For?’ from the Barbie movie marks a pivotal moment not only in the film's narrative but also in the landscape of Oscar-winning original songs. This piece, described as Barbie's "heart song" by director Greta Gerwig, carries a profound depth, showcasing Eilish's unique ability to elicit genuine emotion across generations, and breaking typical pop boundaries. The song's peaceful and melancholy mood, coupled with its existential questioning, is the perfect counterpoint to the shiny, upbeat tracks on the rest of Barbie’s soundtrack. And it also stands apart from so many other Oscar-winning songs.

Eilish and her brother/producer Finneas have crafted a track that breaks from the high-energy, dynamic compositions typically associated with movie anthems. Instead, ‘What Was I Made For?’ guides listeners into introspection and to consider their own humanity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the sound of Eilish's breaths between lines – a deliberate production choice to convey intimacy. It also perfectly reflects Barbie’s on-screen decision to evolve from idea to person.

Interestingly, the track has a low energy, similar to Eilish's other Oscar-winning song, the Bond theme ‘No Time To Die’. Yet it diverges in genre by incorporating elements of folk into its contemporary pop framework. This blend of styles further exemplifies Eilish's departure from her chart-topping sound to something more timeless and contemplative.

Eilish's approach to this song – and her entire catalogue – subverts the expectations of pop music and Oscar-winning anthems. Where previous winners have leaned towards powerful, belted performances (think ‘My Heart Will Go On’), Eilish pulls the listener in with subtlety and nuance. This second Oscar win underlines Eilish’s understanding that sometimes, the most profound impact is made not through overwhelming force but through personal connection.

The song's success, marked by its streaming numbers and critical acclaim (two billions streams, 20 awards and counting), speaks to the universal resonance of its themes and the effectiveness of its delivery. Even without the movie, it’s an exceptionally moving song, but in the context of Barbie, it’s a high-water mark for what modern film music can be: deeply personal, and universally applicable. And her latest Oscar win puts her in the history books as the the youngest person ever to land two Academy Awards.

The themes behind ‘What Was I Made For?’ resonate far beyond the confines of the Barbie movie. And its folkier sound could be heralded as the peak of Eilish’s “Folk” era. While this is quite the evolution from the alternative R&B and indie beginnings heard on her 2016 breakthrough ‘Ocean Eyes’, she seems to be carrying her fanbase with her. That’s the magic of Billie Eilish and Finneas, whatever genre they turn their hands to – from R&B, to Bond theme, to folk – they do it justice.

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