Meaning of “What Was I Made For” by Billie Eilish
“What Was I Made For?” was released through Atlantic Records on 13 July 2023, being one of the singles from the forthcoming Barbie: The Album, with the songstress having announced the track about a week in advance.
Billie Eilish, whose artistry tends to revolve around brooding matters, may seem like a weird choice to participate on an album associated with the ever-colorful “Barbie” franchise.
And along those lines, Stylecaster has pointed out that this song is “a stark contrast from the rest of the Barbie soundtrack”. But by the looks of things Greta Gerwig, the director of the film, personally enlisted Billie and Finneas to participate, showing them clips from the movie from as far as back as January of this year.
And it is in fact Billie Eilish and her big brother, Finneas, who wrote this song, with the latter also producing the track alongside Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt. And to note, Billie also directed its music video.
The Lyrics of “What Was I Made For”
As can be gleaned from the title, these lyrics are existential in nature. And what the titular query points to, in context, is that vocalist once having been happy but now being “sad again”, i.e. suffering from a serious case of depression.
This has her ruminating on ‘what was she made for’. Or viewed from a different angle all lyrics considered, it’s as if Billie has become completely devoid of happiness and is therefore questioning the meaning of life, as in what’s the purpose, so to speak, if you can’t be happy.
That said, as you may already know, “Barbie” is a doll franchise. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of solid information circulating concerning the plot of the upcoming film, but from what is ascertainable, it reads as if it may, in part, be reminiscent of Pinocchio, i.e. Barbie and her beau, “Ken”, striving to become real people or what have you.
The idea above is alluded to in the second verse, i.e. the vocalist putting forth that “she’s not real” and feeling as if she is more of a commercial product than a person. Furthermore, the chorus revolves around Billie also putting forth that she “(doesn’t) know how to feel”.
Also, the fact that “all the enjoyment” has ended, and she “forgot how to be happy” may allude, as featured in the film, to “Barbie” venturing from her idyllic fantasy homeland and into the real world.
“‘Cause I, ’cause I
I don’t know how to feel
But I wanna try
I don’t know how to feel
But someday, I might
Someday, I might”
So we’ll conclude by saying that these lyrics are sort of a double entendre. Eilish admitted that at first she was not keen on dropping a “Barbie” song, presumably because, as pointed out early, the theme of the franchise is such a stark contrast from her established and well-known style.
But the way she and Finneas proceeded to tackle the issue is by dropping the type of depressing fare her fans would expect, with the vocalist simultaneously questioning her existence in a way that’s reminiscent of the Pinocchio, wanting-to-be-(more)-human motif.