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HIT ME HARD AND SOFT: a review of Billie Eilish’s biggest debut

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

About three years after Happier Than Ever, Billie Eilish, 22, released her third studio album last Friday (17), entitled HIT ME HARD AND SOFT. The ten-track record became the biggest debut by an artist born in this century, with 72.726 million streams. 

The 22-year-old revealed in an exclusive interview for Rolling Stone that, unlike WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, this album is about her, not a character she created. Eilish also said that getting in touch with her darker side made her finally feel like herself again: “This whole process has felt like I’m coming back to the girl that I was. I’ve been grieving her [2019 Billie].”

In the same article, the singer declares that the title originated from a conversation with her brother and producer, Finneas O’Connell, 26, when she mistakenly thought the name of a synth in Logic Pro was called Hit Me Hard and Soft. She believes this is exactly what this album does: “It’s an impossible request: you can’t be hit or do anything hard and soft at the same time.”

“I’m a pretty extremist person, and I really like when things are really intense physically, but I also love when things are very tender and sweet. I want two things at once. So I thought that was a really good way to describe me, and I love that it’s not possible.”

With no singles or anticipated clips, the record’s idea is to listen to it all at once, from start to finish, as the title suggests: hitting you hard and soft. Each of the songs seems to follow a narrative that loses meaning if you listen to them randomly, hence the importance of listening in order. The tracks are connected to each other and are unpredictable, so it’s impossible to know how the song will end. 

Both the lyrics and the beats innovate, displaying Billie’s already known alternative indie alongside pop and electronica with a strong nostalgic vibe from the 80s. This musical diversity is not only present in the album as a whole, but in very specific songs that make it seem as if there were two or three different songs in just one, alternating in style, melody and intonation. In that sense, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT is quite diverse and cohesive.

The singer’s maturity is noticeable both in its delivery and in the marketing designed to promote the new era. In a matter of a month, Billie Eilish added all of her followers to her close friends on Instagram, “called” and sent messages on WhatsApp to them, attended listening parties and released several vinyl formats made from recyclable material. All of these strategies — and more — seemed to work, as she became the best-selling artist across all platforms around the world, as well as having all of her songs debut in the Spotify Global Top 50 within a day of release.

Let’s check out these songs track by track:


“People say I look happy / Just because I got skinny / But the old me is still me / And maybe the real me, and I think she’s pretty”

The first full track written for the disco was “SKINNY”. According to the composer herself, it is the best song she has ever written in her entire life. It is a promise of what the new era is going to be like, and there is a complete breach of expectation during the final transition to the next song of the track list. 

The senior music writer Angie Martoccio was accurate to describe it as a sister song to “What Was I Made For?”. In addition to the melody being similar, the lyrics are as devastating as the 2024 Oscar winner for Best Original Song, since it tackles the misconception that losing weight and happiness are synonymous.


“I could eat that girl for lunch / She dances on my tongue / I know it’s just a hunch / But she might be the one”

This was the song with the most excerpts released by Billie Eilish before the record’s debut, being considered the disco’s lead single. Furthermore, the music video aired on the same day as HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, precisely at lunchtime. 

The singer ventures into pop with the first mention of her own sexuality in a song. During an interview for Variety at the end of 2023, she mentioned her interest in women and the quote “I’m attracted to them for real” became a national headline. 

A month later she was asked about it directly during the red carpet at the Variety’s Hitmakers event in L.A. Eilish said she never planned to talk about her sexuality in a million years and, despite feeling frustrated with how it came up, writing “LUNCH” really helped her in the process of finding out who she is: “I wrote some of it before even doing anything with a girl, and then wrote the rest after. I’ve been in love with girls for my whole life, but I just didn’t understand”. Both the clip and the lyrics describe a huge craving Billie has for a girl that she compares having sex with her to devouring a meal.


“Not today, maybe tomorrow / Open up the door, can you open up the door? / I know you said before you can’t cope with any more / You told me it was war, said you’d show me what’s in store”

The public’s favorite is also the song that Eilish is most excited to perform live. Since the title was released, “CHIHIRO” drew attention for mentioning the protagonist of the Japanese animation named Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli. And the lyrics really bring references from the story, as Chihiro no longer recognizes her parents after they hold a feast in a ghost town and turn into pigs. 

Some fans were already drawing these parallels with the excerpts that Billie released and she even republished one of them on her TikTok official account herself. But what attracted listeners most were the vocals and the way the song grows over time. It is a true immersive experience that makes you feel like you are floating in another universe. 

For this song, besides the excerpts, the artist also released an exclusive preview to share her bundle in Fortnite, featuring the Red Roots Billie Outfit.


“Birds of a feather, we should stick together / I know I said I’d never think I wasn’t better alone / Can’t change the weather, might not be forever / But if it’s forever, it’s even better”

It may be hard to believe it, but “BIRDS OF A FEATHER” almost didn’t get into the record. This was the track that took the longest for Billie to get right because, according to her, it was never sounding good. Fortunately, it got in, and we could even get a taste of what it would sounded like before the HIT ME HARD AND SOFT release in the latest Heartstopper’s season 3 trailer. 

No wonder, this is one of the most romantic songs in the entire album — or even Billie’s discography. Aside from clearly expressing love for her romantic interest, the artist created a very happy and lively rhythm, which are quite unusual throughout her musical career. Eilish gives herself openly to a love that may not last forever, but will for sure carry to the grave.


“She was your girl, you showed her the world / You fell out of love and you both let go / She was cryin’ on my shoulder, all I could do was hold her / Only made us closer until July”

The Telegraph describes “WILDFLOWER” as “a complex emotional ménage à trois”, whose title is also the same as the company Wildflower Cases, founded by Jesse Rutherford, 32, and Devon Carlson, 29, his ex-girlfriend. Many speculate that the track refers to the relationship that Rutherford had with Billie Eilish after her breakup with Carlson. 

The song chronicles the guilt of dating a friend’s ex, not being able to help but imagine how she must be feeling or think about her in the back of her mind when she’s with her current partner. Coincidence or not, the disco was released exactly one year after the end of the relationship between Eilish and the lead singer of the band The Neighbourhood.


“You said your heart was jaded / You couldn’t even break it / I shouldn’t have to say it / You could have been the greatest”

This song played a crucial role in the album. In a new interview for Rolling Stone, Billie revealed that “THE GREATEST” is the heart of the album, where Finneas and her shaped the rest of the songs around. 

The track came at the right time, when the siblings were beginning to doubt all their work: “It saved every song on here, for real. I was in a moment of, ‘I don’t know if we’re even going to even have an album made. I don’t know if we’re good at this. I don’t even know if any of the ideas we have are good yet. Nothing’s solidified. What the hell is going on?’” 

She also makes a reference to her previous disco, saying “‘Happier Than Ever’ walked so that ‘THE GREATEST’ could run”, which makes sense since both of them have a similar and spectacular intonation growth at the end.


“I wish you the best for the rest of your life / Felt sorry for you when I looked in your eyes / But I need to confess, I told you a lie / I said you, you were the love of my life”

In free translation, “L’AMOUR DE MA VIE” means “the love of my life” in French. At first, the title seems to refer to a declaration of love but, once again, Billie surprises and gives us just the opposite. 

Unlike the previous one, in which the singer says she did everything for someone who didn’t even reciprocate what was given to them, this track reveals that perhaps she didn’t do that much for this person. It’s a sincere confession of how she lied when she said that her ex was the love of her life and how happy she is that the relationship has come to an end. 

And it’s not just the lyrics that impress. This is the perfect example of “two songs in one”, considering that the first half is completely different from the second, going from an emotional ballad to an emo pop-punk plot.


“I waited on the corner till I saw the sitter leave / Was easy getting over when I landed on my feet / I came in through the kitchen looking for something to eat / I left a calling card so they would know that it was me”

With a soundtrack full of suspense, “THE DINER” delivers a story that lives up to the atmosphere created in the song. The Independent described the track as “a ghost train of a tale through which Eilish is pursued by a stalkerish character who comes in through her kitchen”. 

The artist went through a similar nightmare in the past, with some restriction orders against stalkers in real life. In one specific situation, an unknown man broke into her house and began taking off his clothes to use the outside bathroom, until he was detained. The decision was justified by “threats of violence and stalking”. 

In an interview for Rolling Stone, the singer talks about how she feels about it, as an ugly side of fame: “It’s not in the job description, for sure. I had really scary things happen in my personal life and my safety was compromised a couple of times, and that’s a big part of my life”. She complements: “That is something I just have to live with. But I don’t know, it really made me resentful of my life, when you can’t even be in your own house”. 

At the end of the song, you can hear a phone number being whispered. If added or called, the number continues to pester and send messages to you every day, just like the character incorporated in the narrative. Here we can see another innovative marketing strategy used by Billie. 


“But I gotta be careful / Gotta watch what I say / God, I hope it all goes away / ‘Cause I can’t fall in love with you / No matter how bad I want to”

In promotional audios for Alexa, the artist revealed that “BITTERSUITE” is her favorite title of the record due to its different spelling, as a “hotel suite”. This was also the song used in the first teaser of the HIT ME HARD AND SOFT era, taken during the photo shoot of the album cover, in which she spent practically six hours underwater. 

The melody is more common to the artist’s style, but the transitions throughout the verses are what really stand out. In particular the connection between this track and the next one with an isolated guitar, strumming the old unreleased song and popularly known by fans: “True Blue”, which was supposed to be included in her second studio album but was renamed simply as “BLUE” and inserted in this one.


“I try to live in black and white, but I’m so blue / I’d like to mean it when I say I’m over you / But that’s still not true / And I’m still so blue”

Billie believed the track that would surprise fans the most was “BLUE”, and she was right! Exactly five minutes and 43 seconds long, the song is the longest of the album and her entire career. 

The singer proves once again that she knows how to end an album and makes several references to verses from other songs in this composition, similar to what she did in “goodbye” — the last track of Happier Than Ever. You can see how “BLUE” was really designed for fans, precisely because of the nostalgic content, the danceable beat at the beginning and the links with the rest of the HIT ME HARD AND SOFT songs. 

As if that wasn’t already the perfect ending, listeners believe that the album may have a continuation due to the last verse: “But when can I hear the next one?”. Theories for a double or deluxe album are in full swing on social media as Billie gives little hints of what is yet to come. “I’ll see you on the other side”, she said in a post on Instagram, announcing that her third record was out.

While we wait for the theories to be confirmed, Billie states that she has plans to make video clips for all the songs of the track list. The singer will go on tour, starting in September in Quebec. Attractions in Brazil or South America in general have not been confirmed yet. Part of the ticket proceeds from HIT ME HARD AND SOFT: THE TOUR will go to NGOs combating the climate crisis and food security issues.


The article above was edited by Milena Casaca

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Marcela Abreu

Casper Libero '24

My name is Marcela and I'm a student at Cásper Líbero. I'm a bookstan, writing lover and fond of history who loves meet new people and their unique adventures.