When Kelsea Ballerini appeared on the June 11, 2018 episode of NBC's Songland, she shared that she was looking for "something different, something that I haven't done before." The song she chose to record, "Better Luck Next Time," is an R&B-type track written by contestant Darius Coleman.
Noting that she gravitates toward songs that provoke a strong reaction in her, Ballerini said that Coleman had created a country hook that "made my ear perk up." The contestant subsequently worked on the song with one of the show's panel of hitmaking producers-mentors, Ryan Tedder. They modified "Better Luck Next Time," altering its key to better fit Ballerini's range and replacing electric guitars with acoustic ones.
According to Ballerini, she told Coleman off-camera: "I want you to be there when I record this song, 'cause I want you to help me get my head around how you're doing these runs and these riffs, and I want to push myself on it."
The other two producer-mentors, Ester Dean and Shane McAnally, are also credited as co-writers on the song.