As a teenager, I spent my days cramming for calculus tests and trying to manage difficult customers at local waitressing jobs. For Billie Eilish, her teenage years have been spent dropping chart-topping singles and eventually putting out one of the biggest albums of 2019: ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’. Chris Willman from Variety mentions that “there’s something a little bit hilarious about referring to an album by someone who just turned 17 as ‘long-awaited’,” but after teasing fans with hit after hit, people started to mark their calendars for this new record.
I knew very little about Billie Eilish before this album came out, but when I heard the iconic single ‘bad guy’ for the first time, I was hooked. So, how much do I love this album? Enough to give you a full breakdown of Billie’s creativity, messages (subliminal and overt), and more. Strap in as we dive into the world of Billie Eilish and her debut album.
Billie Eilish, as young as she is (19!), is no stranger to music and its power. She and her equally-musical brother Finneas wrote this entire album together in their childhood house. That’s right: no fancy studio, no massive team stepping in – just them. With Finneas assisting with the majority of the instrumentals for each song, this duo immediately became a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.
As I mentioned above, ‘bad guy’ was the standout piece from this album across the globe. The song transcended social media platforms, television commercials, and more as both it and Billie continued to become more popular. This track is the perfect way to open up the album, and it sets the stage for the emotional rollercoaster listeners will go through by the time the last song ends.
From the video above, you can also see how quirky Billie is in her music video concepts. Each video finds a way to speak to listeners, and one of the most haunting is the one for the fifth track on the album, ‘when the party’s over’. In the video, Billie sits in an all-white room with a glass of dark liquid in front of her. As the song plays and she sings expressionlessly, she drinks the glass and ends up crying the liquid out. Simple but effective, the video has amassed 667 million views.
Billie has also used her platform as a way to spread important messages to her fans. Often dressed in baggy clothing, Billie has been harassed by people wanting to see her ‘feminine figure’. Since she started her rise to fame, Billie has made it clear that her body should not be a part of her definition as an artist. She spoke to this in a Calvin Klein campaign, saying that ‘nobody can have an opinion [on her figure] because they haven’t seen what’s underneath’. In addition to body image, Billie’s songs also speak to substance abuse, mental health and romantic highs and lows.
For me, the best piece on this album is the incredibly haunting penultimate track ‘i love you’. This song hits deep and hits hard, especially once you’ve come down from the intensity and fun of songs like ‘you should see me in a crown’ and ‘bury a friend’. The song focuses on a complicated relationship, where you can’t help but love someone even if their actions and feelings start to change. The last lyrics are the most heart-wrenching, with Billie singing the following:
We fall apart as it gets dark
I’m in your arms in Central Park
There’s nothin’ you could do or say
I can’t escape the way I love you
I don’t want to, but I love you
Billie Eilish is the perfect example of the future of the industry. She is not afraid to make people feel uncomfortable, but in the best way possible. Her unique sound, appearance, and music stylings make her one of the best artists I have ever listened to, and I am so thankful I gave her music a try.