Background and release
The song was written by Ted Bruner, Trey Vittetoe and Gina Schock of the Go-Go's, who also contributed to other songs on Gomez's debut album. Lyrically, "Falling Down" is said to be in regards to accusations of wrongdoing and has a sense of longing for a non-benefiting relationship. However in an interview, Gomez stated, during an interview that the song ultimately is a ridicule of the Hollywood life and fame, that was the meaning behind "Smile for the camera, 'cause they're all about to trash ya'." Gomez further elaborated on the concept of the song on an interview with Just Jared Jr., saying:
- It's basically about Hollywood and what people think about it and essentially how plastic it is sometimes. It's fun and I think girls can relate to it somewhat, for me it was because of Hollywood but it can really relate to a mean girl, an ex-boyfriend, to whoever.
The single was released for digital download in the United States and Canada on August 25, 2009. It was also released for digital download in Australia on September 25, 2009. Gomez & the Scene first performed the song live on the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars. During the performance, professional dancers Derek Hough and Karina Smirnoff danced to the song. Tamara Brooks of Zap2it commented "The song's catchy but Selena doesn't look entirely comfortable on stage to me. It's very...rehearsed. But the dancing was faboo." Additionally, they performed the song at numerous concerts in 2009 and 2010, including their House of Blues Tour, the Kiss & Tell Tour and their Fairs & Festivals tour.
Composition and critical reception
"Falling Down" is a pop song that carries characteristics of dance-pop and pop rock. It features "aggressive" guitar and drum lines powered by "bloopy" synths. Bill Lamb of About.com noted that the song seemed to be influenced by Avril Lavigne. Robert Copsey of Digital Spy said the song sounded "suspiciously similar to Pink's 'U + Ur Hand'." The song is set in common time, and has a tempo of 140 beats per minute. It is written in the key of D minor, and Gomez's vocals span from the low note of A3 to high note of D5. It follows the chord progression Dm–C–Dm-C. Bill Lamb of About.com gave the single 4 out of 5 stars, calling the song "catchy" and commending Gomez's "sassy" vocals and its lyrics. Lamb also noted that "The mix leaves in Gomez' [sic] occasional breathless delivery that only conveys more immediacy for the song." A CBBC reviewer complimented the song's "catchy lyrics," stating "you will have them in your head for days!" Rob Perez of NocheLatina called the track one of the best on the album. Robert Copsey of Digital Spy said the song and its lyrics sounded "uninspired."
The song debuted on the September 12, 2009, edition of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at #93. It later peaked at #82. It became the band's first and lowest charting single in the United States to date. In the same week, "Falling Down" also appeared on the Canadian Hot 100 Canada, debuting at #69. It spent two weeks on the chart, falling to #82 in its second week. It re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #92 for the week ending January 9, 2010. The song managed to peak at #11 on the Australian Hitseekers Singles Chart. On the Japan Hot 100 "Falling Down" debuted at #24 on the week dated March 6, 2010. A week later, it peaked at #15 on the chart.
The music video to "Falling Down", directed by Chris Dooley, was first seen on Disney Channel, succeeding Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie on August 28, 2009. It became available for purchase on iTunes the next day.
The music video commences with shots of Gomez singing the first lines, "whoa, whoa," and bright lights shining upon her; she is wearing a gray shirt, black tights and boots and has long brown hair. Then, the rest of the band, composed of four male members, is seen as Gomez dances and nods her head. The background in the music video is a large projection of patterned geometrical figures that constantly alter to divergent colors. Gomez is then seen in a "photo shoot-like" set wearing a white shirt and a zebra-patterned skirt. As the video progresses Gomez and the rest of the band are seen singing, dancing, playing instruments and using props. Gomez holds a mirror and plastic roses, which she then throws away, in conjunction to the song's lines. The video ends with Gomez taking a quick bow while still holding her microphone.