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‘Happier Than Ever’: A Listening Guide to Billie Eilish’s Sophomore Album

I have to preface this article by saying that my appreciation for Billie Eilish is relatively newfound. I always knew her biggest hits and I never had a bad word to say about her. Her single “everything i wanted” got me through February 2020, but she fell off my radar after that, as other artists took over my quarantine playlists.

Then, this past July, I watched Eilish’s biographical documentary, Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry. (Stream it on AppleTV+!) The film covered her experience venturing on tour in 2019 while simultaneously producing her first album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? This documentary completely shifted my view on Eilish. It reminded me that she’s so young, and still not even 20 years old. Sure, her upbringing was privileged and she had access to incredible opportunities from the start. Still, that doesn’t negate the personal, behind-the-scenes struggles she went through to get to where she is today. Her growth shines in the lyrics and music of her 16-track sophomore album, Happier Than Ever (HTE), released over the summer. Let me walk you through it.

I’m a huge lyrics person. I love soaking up some ~musical poetry~ that highlights an artist’s stance on a matter or demonstrates their growth. If that’s your vibe, too, I recommend listening to “Getting Older,” “Not My Responsibility,” “OverHeated,and “Everybody Dies. They’re all insightful self-reflections on growing up and, albeit in a less relatable way, growing up in the spotlight.

If you’re in a lovey-dovey mood, definitely check out “Billie Bossa Nova” and “Oxytocin. They’re… steamy, to say the least, and will get you in the mood for whatever evening you have planned ahead.

Looking for a song to play while you’re driving around with friends, late at night with the windows rolled down? The titular and most popular track, “Happier Than Ever, is perfect for just that. It might be the only one suited for that setting, honestly. Still, other somewhat upbeat songs on the album that highlight Eilish’s talent include “GOLDWING,” “Lost Cause,” “NDA,and “Therefore I Am.

At the end of the day, when you just need to unwind, decompress, and maybe be sad for a minute, try listening to “Halley’s Comet,” “Your Power,or “Male Fantasy. I find them to be the most calm, mellow tracks on the album, and some of the most beautiful ones for sure.

Lastly, if you’re more familiar with Eilish’s first album, here are some listening suggestions for HTE. If you liked hits like “bad guy” and “you should see me in a crown, I would suggest tracks like “I Didn’t Change My Number” and “my future” since they don’t stray too far from Eilish’s previously established style. If you enjoyed sad songs like “i love you” and “when the party’s over, you might appreciate the slower ones on this album like “Halley’s Comet” and “Everybody Dies.If you’re a sucker for a good beat, such as in “bury a friend, I would definitely suggest some of the beat-centered ones like “GOLDWING” and “NDA.”

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Grace Bertagna

U Mass Amherst '23

Grace Bertagna is a sophomore at UMass Amherst studying Spanish and Sociology. She enjoys painting, practicing yoga, cooking, and playing ice hockey.
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