Billie Eilish’s meteoric rise to the top of the charts and the forefront of pop music today has been an impressive one to watch, and it doesn’t hurt that she makes good music too.
The public’s first exposure to Billie came from her single “Ocean Eyes.” Originally written by her older brother, singer, songwriter, and producer Finneas, for his band, the song was recorded by Eilish for her dance teacher’s choreography purposes. After being uploaded to Soundcloud, the track took off, landing Eilish a contract with Darkroom and Interscope.
From there, Billie released “Six Feet Under” and “Bellyache” before releasing her 2017 EP Don’t Smile At Me. She has already collaborated with Khalid and Vince Staples and her songs have been remixed by artists like blackbear, Marian Hill, and TroyBoi. Now, Billie Eilish has released her first full-length album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
Source // Spin
Billie and her brother Finneas record her music mostly at home in a tiny bedroom, rather than in a studio. The intimacy in this recording setup translates into all of her music, giving her listeners the feeling that she’s singing you a secret in her soft, soprano voice. The music videos released for many of her songs set the tone for the album, ranging from unsettling to bizarre. If you’ve already seen the music video for “bury a friend,” you’ll know what I mean.
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Opening with “bad guy,” Eilish begins her journey into exploring the question the album title asks on a very upbeat note, teasing her love interest on top of a bass-heavy track. Showcasing her youth at only 17-years old, Eilish punctuates this song with an exclamation, “Duh!” solidifying her tough, sullen, and defiant persona. The music video is full of bizarre imagery, setting the tone of the song.
Source // Stereogum
Moving into “xanny,” Eilish documents her aversion to recreational opioid usage, referencing Xanax, a lot of Soundcloud rappers’ drug of choice. Eilish sings “Don’t give me a xanny, now or ever.” Eilish recognizes that her presence in the spotlight means that plenty of girls everywhere are looking to her as a role model. In an interview with the New York Times, she says “I completely recognize the responsibility, and I do think about it. But it’s not going to change the way that I am.”
Her song “you should see me in a crown” was the first single released from the album, so you may have already heard it, or seen the spider-infested music video. (Trust me, when I say spider-infested, I mean spider-infested. I’d stay away if you’re an arachnophobe, like me.) This power-trip of a song was inspired by a line from Sherlock, said by Jim Moriarity. Eilish and her brother, being huge fans of the show, thought the line was “dope” and built the song around it.
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While the beginning of the album is light, with songs like “wish you were gay,” where Eilish sings about a lover’s rejection, wishing that he was simply gay rather than against her as a person, and “all the good girls go to hell,” playing with religious imagery and references, the end transitions into a darker and quieter place.
“when the party’s over” has been a personal favorite of mine since she released it as a single in October 2018 and currently has 341 million streams on Spotify. The music video is stunning and was inspired by a piece of fan art. While the song sounds sad and wistful, Billie herself has described it more as an angry song, explaining the context as “somebody on the phone yelling for some reason, and you’re just like, ‘You know what? Fucking leave me alone.’”
Source // We Heart It
One of Billie’s favorite songs off of this album is “ilomilo,” a reference to a 2010 puzzle game where the objective of the game is to unite two characters, ilo and milo. True to the game, the instrumental of the song is very cutesy and clearly video game-inspired, while the lyrics are sadder. In Eilish’s episode of First We Feast’s Hot Ones she describes the story of the song as being like “the game, it’s just like, losing the person you love and then finding them again.”
Eilish winds down the album with three songs, which together, create a sentence: “listen before i go,” “i love you,” and “goodbye.” Explaining her choice behind this, Eilish said in an interview with MTV that she doesn’t like when albums end abruptly and “nothing feels like it’s actually over. I really wanted something to feel like a finish line, to feel like a period at the end, you know?”
This album has become my biggest obsession since it was released and I could probably keep talking about it for hours. It seems the rest of the population agrees as WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? has made its debut at the number one spot on the Billboard 200. With this huge accomplishment, Eilish has also become the youngest woman to make it to the number one spot since 2009.
When speaking about her creative process with Rolling Stone, Eilish describes how she makes her music relatable to her fans, saying, “Kids use my songs as a hug. Songs about being depressed or suicidal or completely just against-yourself — some adults think that’s bad, but I feel that seeing that someone else feels just as horrible as you do is a comfort. It’s a good feeling. It’s someone to scream with.”