The other day Joe asked me what I’d been listening to lately, aside from Billie Eilish. The answer was, “Well, nothing really.” I’ve been too busy playing her new album – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO – on repeat.
Like many others, I first discovered Billie Eilish when “ocean eyes” suddenly started popping up on playlists everywhere. I really enjoyed the song, but it was when I discovered the song “bellyache” that I became truly obsessed. The song takes the perspective of a sociopathic killer – you know, the usual. (Lyrics include: “my friends aren’t far, in the back of my car… lay their bodies.”)
I loved the song melodically but I also loved that someone would explore such an interesting topic in a pop song. And while the song is obviously a story, not autobiographical, you can’t help… believing it. This is one of my favourite things about Billie’s music; every song is extremely emotive, making me not only believe her, but relate to it myself.
Billie is a breath of fresh air in the music industry. Don’t get me wrong – I love pop music. But listening to a playlist of top 40 hits gets incredibly repetitive. When a certain sound or look does well for one person, suddenly the major labels churn out a hundred slightly different versions of it. (Undoubtedly now that Billie is experiencing success, labels will try pushing out similar acts.)
But Billie Eilish is committed to being completely herself in her music and her image.
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I love artists who aren’t overly concerned about genre and charts, and Billie is one of those artists. She and her brother, Finneas O’Connell (who produces and writes with her), are more concerned with creativity than being held back by the confines of a musical “lane.”
I watched a video where they broke down the writing of her song “bury a friend.” I loved hearing the inspiration behind the song, the many noises used, and even a breakdown of the format of the song. The creativity of using horror themes and sounds to make such a bop? I’m here for it.
There are many creative samples throughout her new album. In “my strange addiction” she uses clips from The Office. My personal favourite is in the song “i love you” – she uses a sample of the overhead announcements made on a plane before take off. I’ve been on my fair share of transatlantic flights, some by myself, and on most of them I was leaving either Joe or my family behind. To have that familiar sound layered with lyrics about love and loss immediately connects me to a really powerful feeling.
One of the other things I find refreshing about Billie is the lack of sexualisation around her and her image. I’m all about women being sexually empowered and doing whatever makes them happy. But many pop stars play so much into their sexual image that their talent becomes almost secondary to how attractive they are. It’s nice to see a young artist who’s chosen a different way to represent herself.
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Her style is so unique as well; at least within “mainstream” music. It’s not what I personally like/would wear, but I love her fearlessness in dressing in a way that’s so authentic to who she is. (Fun fact: the above picture was taken at Tileyard Studios where I used to work. Why did I never meet anyone as cool as Billie there?)
Then there’s her incredible music videos.
Her most recent music video for “bad guy” features many striking, colorful scenes. My personal favourite is the one at the end; sitting on a man’s back while he does push ups? Iconic.
“bury a friend” looks like it came straight out of a horror film and I absolutely love it. I’m not the biggest fan of the horror genre – I was pretty scarred by Paranormal Activity 2 – but it’s such a creative and interesting concept.
Billie is young, which means many articles have pegged her as an artist for the Gen Z crowd. I get the sense that some writers don’t quite know what to make of her. And it’s made me wonder why I, a decade older than her, am so fascinated by her.
Perhaps Billie is a representation of what I wish I had been when I was younger. I wish I’d been that confident; committed to being myself instead of trying to fit in with people. I wish I’d dedicated myself to art more than chasing stupid boys who weren’t worth my time. I wish I’d fearlessly made art and music, instead of being afraid of what other people had think. These fears and insecurities are hard to break out of, and I’ve wasted so much time giving into them.
But women like Billie Eilish inspire me to be fearless, confident, and completely authentic, and I’m grateful for that.