There’s More to Billie Eilish’s latest single “wish you were gay” Than Meets the Ear

Since its release, Billie Eilish's latest single “ wish you were gay”  has faced backlash. This is due to interpretations by some members of the LGBTQ community that the title is offensive and queerbaiting.

I remember hearing the song for the first time and being confused by the title “wish you were gay” since it is essentially one of the lyrics in the song but pulled completely out of context.Initially, I thought the song was Eilish coming out about liking a girl who was straight and wishing she was gay so that she would like her back. But after replaying the song, I came to realize that I,  like many others, had misinterpreted the song and its meaning.

In a video titled, “A Snippet into Billie’s Mind- wish you were gay,” Eilish opens up and gives the backstory on the song and the context of her lyrics. She opens up about falling in love with this guy that didn’t love her back.

She then goes on to say that the lyric “wish you were gay” is not an insult at all, it ’s about when someone doesn’t love you and you want to know why. Do I smell weird? Your brain goes to all these different places and you wonder,  What is wrong with me?

For me personally, I understand what Eilish is saying because when someone you like doesn’t like you back, you do wonder why and jump to the conclusion that you did something wrong or that there’s something wrong with you.

Eilish then opens up in the video about how “It’s painful to love somebody that doesn’t love you back and if only there was a reason I wish you were gay to spare my pride and to give your lack of interest in me an explanation.”

In a recent Billboard article, Eilish claims that she didn’t mean for the lyric “wish you were gay” to be an insult and she clarifies that “the song could be switched around and the premise would still make sense. It could be a girl interested in a girl and maybe that girl likes girls also but she doesn't like her back.” So, in this case, they would say the opposite, I wish you were straight to explain the other person’s lack of interest in me. I think sometimes we jump to conclusions too quickly when we should just listen.

These lyrics now make more sense to me because the meaning behind them is that she wishes deeply that the guy she likes didn’t like women at all, than to know that he likes women but just not her. Let’s face it, when you have feelings for someone but they don’t feel the same way,  rejection can be a hard pill to swallow. Especially if you really cared for that person.

In the song, we hear the pain in her voice as she conveys a raw and almost broken emotion.  Paired with the acoustic guitar and her soft voice, this adds to the overall somber tone of the song. Overall I believe her intention with this single was to be very raw and vulnerable and she does a great job of conveying that with the emotion she pours into every ounce of this song.

Another really interesting thing that I love about this song is that she puts meaning into the lyrics by how she sings them. Throughout the song, if you listen carefully Eilish will hold onto certain notes and then release them. This paired with her timing really creates an impact on the lyrics and the message she is trying to get across. I think she intentionally choose to hold and release certain notes because when she holds the note it is like she’s holding in all these feelings for this guy and then when she releases the note it is like she is letting go of those feelings.

If you listen closely to the guitar strums in the background of the opening verse it almost mimics this same hold and release because it is a consistent soft strum of the cord and then a pause, and it continues to repeat this pattern. Then when the dubstep comes in the beat builds up and then drops. It’s almost symbolic of her heart and how it fell so hard for this guy just like the beat in this song.

Honestly, I just love how well all the different elements in this song come together to convey her emotions. I think that might be why I relate to the song so personally.  I empathize with her because I too have been in situations like that and honestly, they suck.

Now let’s talk about the numerical rhymes in the song when Billie asks,  “Is there a 12 step just for you?” Traditionally a 12 step plan is used when getting over an addiction but in this case, it’s about getting over a person that you had very deep feelings for.

I like how in the first verse she already indirectly is talking about the twelve step plan and starts counting down the steps from six to one.

“Baby, I don't feel so good/ Six words you never understood/ I'll never let you go/ Five words you'll never say/ I laugh alone like nothing's wrong/ Four days has never felt so long/ If three's a crowd and two was us/ One slipped away”

Similarly, in the third verse, she counts down the steps from twelve to seven.

“Is there a reason we're not through?/ Is there a twelve step just for you?/ Our conversation's all in blue/ Eleven "heys" (hey, hey, hey, hey)/ Ten fingers tearing out my hair/Nine times you never made it there /I ate alone at seven, you were six minutes away”

Overall I thought it was a really interesting stylistic choice to count down the steps in such a way and how it was backward and didn’t start at the beginning of a twelve-step planning. Maybe that highlights how sometimes it’s hard to get over someone that you think about, just like it’s hard to follow the out of order twelve-step plan in her song.

In a nutshell, there’s more than meets the ear to Eilish’s single “wish you were gay”, and that’s why sometimes you’ve just got to listen. Sometimes the meaning is in the little details too.


Here’s a link to Eilish’s single “wish you were gay” if you’d like to give it a listen.