Diane Warren and Lady Gaga: Til It Happens to You

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Speaking of hits, even if you don’t know the name Diane Warren, chances are you know the words to some of her songs by heart! Warren has written 57 songs that were top 10 hits, including “How Do I Live Without You,” “Unbreak My Heart”, Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing,” and Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.”

She has 12 Grammy nominations, and nine Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song, including one this year for “‘Til it Happens to You,” sung by none other than Lady Gaga. 

“Til It Happens to You” is a song produced and performed by American singer Lady Gaga. She co-wrote the song with Diane Warren for the 2015 documentary film The Hunting Ground, which deals with campus rape in the United States. The song had leaked onto the internet through an unofficial recording at the film’s premiere in 2015 Sundance Film Festival. It was later released by Interscope Records to digital retailers on September 18, 2015. The director and producer of the film had looked for someone influential to write a song for it, and music supervisor Bonnie Greenberg contacted Warren who was interested. After writing the song, Warren asked Gaga to record “Til It Happens to You”. Producer Nile Rodgers accompanied them during the recording, providing his suggestions.

A universal song about any kind of loss in life, the track was placed during two sequences in the film, highlighting pain of sexual assault. The song consists of an orchestral production with strings, and an emotional vocal delivery from Gaga. Lyrically it asks the listeners to stand in a victim’s position and try to understand the turmoil they go through. “Til It Happens to You” was later included as part of a public service announcement video, directed by Catherine Hardwicke. The video depicts various instances of violence against women and sexual assaults. It ends with a cautionary note about the effects of such distress, and the individuals finding solace with their close friends and relatives.

Diane Warren: I heard about [the film] and it just really touched me, and she had stuff in her life that she could relate to. Gaga is one of the most talented artists I have worked with in my life and I’m excited about doing more with her… There are a lot of levels to the song. There’s something very vulnerable about it and something very defiant about it, especially the way [Gaga] sings it. The first verse is vulnerable—’You tell me its going to get better?’—and the second verse comes in and it builds. Really? It gets better? No. You don’t know until it happens to you..

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