On Sunday, Diane Warren will be up for her eighth Oscar nomination for her powerful collaboration with Lady Gaga, “Til It Happens to You.” The simple, raw ballad soundtracks director Kirby Dick’s documentary, titled The Hunting Ground, that explores rape on college campuses in the United States. For Warren, this could be the one that breaks her Oscar losing streak after being nominated for massive songs such as Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me,” LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live” and Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Warren spoke with Rolling Stone about “real deal” Gaga, her Oscar history and her work with Big Sean.
How did you and Gaga come together to create “Til It Happens to You” for The Hunting Ground?
I thought she would be really the right person, the right artist. I couldn’t think of anybody better, so I basically called her, and she was into it. I played what I had on the phone, and it could’ve gone either way. It could’ve been something too personal or she didn’t wanna get near it, or it could’ve been something that touched her. It was the latter, and she was pretty emotional. I still didn’t know if she was for sure doing it or would be involved. Then I thought, “You know what? I’m gonna fly out there. If she doesn’t want to work on it with me, I’m gonna have some fun in New York for a couple of days. If not, this is gonna be the best thing I’ve been a part of.” Fortunately it turned out to be that.
Both you and Gaga have had eclectic careers and a group of diverse people you’ve worked with over the years…
Well, here’s the thing about Gaga. She’s the real deal, an all-timer. She’s no joke. This girl is gonna be around in 50 years. She’s a seriously trained classical musician, trained vocalist. She has the goods underneath all the crazy Gaga stuff, which makes her Gaga as well, which is awesome. Underneath that, you have a real fucking amazing artist with the chops to last. Serious chops. She can tour along with Tony Bennett. If you can give me somebody in the current pop landscape that can do that, let me know. Or who can go and sing the National Anthem flawlessly, then a week later do a David Bowie tribute, and next week is the Oscars.
She’s gonna blow people away at the Oscars. You know what’s really weird? I was nominated a year ago for a song I did for a movie called Beyond the Lights with Rita Ora, and it lost. Gaga and I had already gone in the studio. She’d already made this beautiful, stunning record a few weeks before that. Anyway, so I just lost my seventh Oscar, and she came out and did The Sound of Music, and I tweeted. You can find the tweet, it’s from February 22nd, and I said, “Just lost #7. I’ll be back here with lucky #8 with the woman that’s on stage killing it right now.” Isn’t that crazy?