Why WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? Changed My Mind About Billie Eilish

I’ll admit it. When I first heard Billie Eilish, I was… unsure, to say the least. My friend Ashley excitedly texted me asking if I had heard “my boy,” and I had not. I listened to it. I liked it. I added it to a few playlists, and then I kind of fell off the Billie Eilish bandwagon. I wasn’t initially impressed by her music, and unless “my boy” came on one of the playlists I had put it in, I never sought her out. I was surprised when my rap-loving boyfriend turned on “when the party’s over” and told me how it was one of his favorite songs. My roommate showed me “Ocean Eyes - Blackbear Remix,” and I could hear it. Eilish undeniably has an incredible voice. But I thought she tried too hard. When WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? came out, I didn’t intend to listen to it. And then I found myself stuck in Oakland, enduring a two hour layover, and when I asked for song recommendations to pass the time on my Instagram story, the album or various songs on the album were recommended. While I had never actively sought out her music before, I knew I loved her voice, so I figured, why not? The result was me listening to the album from Oakland to Seattle, and every morning since then.

The album starts with a track titled “!!!!!!!” which is a 14 second audio clip of Eilish and her producer, Finneas. Eilish takes out her invisalign (hello, kinda gross ASMR) and says “My invisalign has―I have taken out my invisalign, and this is the album.” The two then laugh, Eilish screams for a moment, and then the first song on the album, “bad guy,” starts. Honestly, I usually listen to the album all the way through, but even if I don’t, I’ll listen to “!!!!!!!” The voice in which Eilish talks and the voice in which she sings are extremely different, and I’m always blown away in realizing the range she has. Starting with this clip allows me to be amazed every single time. And, I mean let’s be honest, while the album overall is pretty dark, the clip is pretty wholesome.

 

“bad guy” is one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s one of those songs that makes you feel like a badass. The chorus, “So you’re a tough guy / like it really rough guy / just can’t get enough guy / chest always so puffed guy. / I’m that bad type / make your mama sad type / make your girlfriend mad type / might seduce your dad type / I’m the bad guy. / Duh.” She says “duh” after singing the chorus, which again emphasizes what she can do with her voice. The song is bass-heavy and taunting, and it’s one of those songs that makes you feel like you can take over the world.

 

Jumping forward to the fifth track, “all the good girls go to hell” twists Christian imagery into a dark story, one where hell is significantly better than heaven. She criticizes heaven, saying, “pearly gates look more like a picket fence / once you get inside them / got friends but can’t invite them.” The line “my Lucifer is lonely” is repeated throughout the song, plainly showing where her allegiance lies. Again, this is a song you’d take over the world to. The bass throughout the album is unbelievable, and this song is no different. The beat makes you want to dance and step on your enemies, and really, what more could you want from a song? A bonus is that she refers to God as a woman, and I don’t know about you, but I’m here for that rewriting of history.

 

I didn’t listen to “wish you were gay” before the album came out, and even when I listened to the album, I was hesitant. I knew the song was about her lamenting about unrequited feelings for a boy, and wishing he were gay to explain his disinterest in her. Being queer, I was wary. Is it the greatest message? No. Is it a good song? Yes. There’s no homophobia in the song, and it’s not really about sexuality. It’s about her pining over a boy, and being so frustrated her feelings are unrequited, she wishes he were gay so she could easily explain to herself why the feelings aren’t returned. I can vividly remember high school crushes where I wished there was an explanation as to why the feelings weren’t returned that would spare my feelings. I don’t think I ever wished a man was gay, but hey, to each their own. And in case anyone is interested, the guy she wrote the song about did eventually come out as gay.

 

The ninth track on the album, titled “my strange addiction,” is neck in neck with “bad guy” for my favorite song on the album. It’s funky, bass-heavy, and has a few The Office references/audio clips. This is (yet another) song that makes you feel powerful, with lyrics like, “I take what I want when I wanna / and I want ya,” and “Bad, bad news one of us is going to lose.” It’s a teasing song, and instrumentally it’s dark. I have a playlist called “get out of my way” and it’s just songs that make me feel powerful―“my strange addiction” and a couple other songs off the album have definitely made their way in.

 

WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is a villainous album. The deep bass and Eilish’s unmatched vocals come together to create a sound that is distinctly her. The album is amazing--I’ve been listening to it on repeat since the day after it came out. There’s really nothing more to say except stream WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? on Spotify. You’ll be glad you did.