Billie Eilish’s emotional SNL performance of “What Was I Made For?” now available on YouTube

Billie Eilish gives an emotional performance of “What Was I Made For?” on SNL
Credit: Saturday Night Live

In the latest episode, Billie Eilish graced the iconic “SNL” stage by recreating an emotional Barbie moment by mesmerizing the audience with a popular ballad of “What Was I Made For?” while appearing as a musical guest. She also sang a melodious rendition of the 1943 song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” with Finneas on piano and Christian McBride on bass for the latter, and appears in the “Whiskers R We” sketch and the prerecorded “Tampon Farm” sketch.

The pop star’s first performance was introduced by Greta Gerwig alongside Kate McKinnon, as it features a photo and video montage of various former and current SNL female and non-binary cast members. As soon as the performance began, the raw vulnerability in her voice was palpable, as with her eyes closed, Eilish effortlessly conveyed the very essence of the lyrics she sang, leaving no doubt that this performance would be etched into the memories of those lucky enough to witness it.

Take a look at the entire performance on Saturday Night Live’s official YouTube channel below: 

Many fans commended the “Ocean Eyes,” singer and songwriter in the video’s comment section for her singing abilities. One user commented, “She’s gonna win that 2nd Oscar. Holy cow. This song completely compliments the story of the movie the way very few others do.” A second one wrote, “Not an easy song to sing live, but they completely nailed it. Bravo Billie.” A third user stated, “The progression of Billie’s vocals throughout all her performances is just incredible, especially with this song.” At last, a fourth user simply wrote, “What a talent.”

“What Was I Made For?” was made with her brother Finneas O’Connell and was released through Atlantic, Darkroom, and Interscope Records on July 13, 2023, as the fourth single from the soundtrack to the 2023 fantasy comedy film Barbie. 

The song was commercially successful worldwide and reached number one in Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The song was a commercial success in the United States, peaking at 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. It received five nominations at the upcoming 66th Annual Grammy Awards, including for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The songwriting process began with director Greta Gerwig, and in an interview with Billboard, Eilish stated that the single was the first song that she and O’Connell had written after a prolonged writer’s block.

“I did not think about myself once in the writing process. I was purely inspired by this movie and this character and the way I thought she would feel, and wrote about that. And then, over the next couple days, I was listening and I was like, girl, how did this … honestly, and I really don’t mean this to come off a conceited way at all, but I do this thing where I make stuff that I don’t even know is … like I’m writing for myself and I don’t even know it.” 

—  Billie Eilish, on the songwriting process for “What Was I Made For?”

Take a look at the entire music video below, which is directed by Eilish herself, was shot in entirely one take, and portrays Eilish in a yellow dress (the color stereotypical Barbie wears at the end of the 2023 Barbie film) and a blonde wig styled with bangs and a high ponytail similar to the hairstyle of the original 1959 Barbie. Eilish sits at a school desk in an empty, monochromatic space.

From a Barbie-themed case, she removes and examines doll clothing resembling outfits Eilish has worn publicly in the past, which she organizes on a miniature hanging rack. As the song progresses, a brief earthquake, a strong wind, and rain threaten to disrupt her efforts. When the rain ends, Eilish quickly stuffs the doll clothes back into their case and walks away, taking the doll case with her. Shortly after the song’s ending, Eilish returns briefly to collect a forgotten accessory before exiting once more.

In W magazine, Matthew Velasco interpreted the music video as Eilish’s “way of telling us she’s done with her signature baggy look” and that “this feels like the beginning of a new era for Eilish.”

Billie Eilish - What Was I Made For? (Official Music Video)