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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

2024, it seems, has been the year of genre-pushing and uniquely crafted pop music. From Ariana Grande’s eternal sunshine to Beyonce’s COWBOY CARTER, new releases have created sounds that are all their own. Billie Eilish’s latest album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, continues this trend and solidifies the musical genius of Eilish and FINNEAS as a music-making duo. 

Eilish and FINNEAS decided once again they were uninterested in the standard rules of a pop song. Nearly every song on the album shifts partway through to an entirely different sonic experience. My two favorites from the album, “CHIHIRO” and “THE DINER” are so musically interesting that they provide a rare experience: the listener cannot predict what direction the song will take, or what will happen next.

Eilish’s vocals on “CHIHIRO” are nothing short of haunting, but it’s not the typical whispered caress Eilish is known for. Eilish easily hits high, sweetly magical notes, her voice flowing smoothly over the track’s instrumentals. 

“CHIHIRO” also has a slightly sci-fi, futuristic space sound, and if HIT ME HARD AND SOFT has a consistent tone, that would be it. The darkly sweet album cover, featuring Eilish submerged and floating in dark waters, matches each song perfectly. 

“CHIHIRO” Offical Lyric Video via YouTube

My other favorite of the album, “THE DINER”, is notable for its sensuality, arguably functioning as the darker half of “LUNCH”. Perhaps this motif is intentional, as the metaphor of food is essential to both songs. “THE DINER” is both sexy and darkly reflective, with one of the most interesting sonic interludes of the album. “THE DINER” is also speculated to be from the perspective of a stalker. Eilish has had experiences with stalkers before, and though the tone becomes infinitely darker with this lens, the lyrics and instrumentals of the song also become even more intriguing. Eilish also whispers a phone number at the end of the track, providing fans with a potential contact that cheekily reinforces the song’s disturbing theme.

“LUNCH” serves as a perfect single, a sweet hint at the album without giving away the depth of intentionality and craftsmanship that went into it. “LUNCH” also serves another purpose: Eilish’s unafraid and entirely intentional declaration of her sexuality. I’ve discussed Eilish’s handling of the discussion of sexuality before, and I admire her greatly for her unabashed discussion of female partners. 

Eilish’s lyrics from LUNCH, “I’ve said it all before, but I’ll say it again / I’m interested in more than just bein’ your friend” is clear. Eilish is not sticking her sexuality in her listener’s faces, or interested in proving anything to anyone. She is simply saying “This is a part of me, a part of my romantic history, and that’s all you need to know”. 

“LUNCH” Official Music Video via YouTube

The album’s stand-out experimentation is balanced with sweetness, such as the track “BIRDS OF A FEATHER”. EIlish’s voice, just as in “CHIHIRO”, is chillingly ethereal, and the music gives it a tinge of melancholy that allows it to fit as another puzzle piece of HIT ME HARD AND SOFT. 

Upon first listen, another track that stuck out to me was “THE GREATEST”. Though it could be taken as another song directed at a romantic partner or toxic friend, it could also serve a similar purpose to “SKINNY”: a reflection on the music industry and society’s expectation of Eilish since her skyrocket to fame at just 17 with the hugely successful WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?.

“THE GREATEST” is at once a lamentation and an angry realization of betrayal. The lines “ All the times I waited / For you to want me naked / Made it all look painless / Man am I the greatest,” could be a reflection of the public fixation on Eilish’s body when she was still a child and her acknowledgment of what it would take to satisfy the public craving for more “Billie”.

“THE GREATEST” Official Lyric Video via YouTube

At the age of 22, she is still remarkably young, making this album and all she has experienced even more noteworthy. 

The album manages to be consistent despite never sticking to a formula. No song sounds the same. I believe everyone who listens can find something that appeals to them, regardless of their music preferences or if they have experience listening to Eilish’s music. HIT ME HARD AND SOFT is a fantastic contribution to pop music and music in general. I don’t envy this year’s Grammy nominations, but there can be no doubt: Eilish more than deserves the recognition she has received and will continue to awe her audience with her devotion to her art and the talent behind it.

Hadley is a sophomore at the University of Central Florida majoring in Writing and Rhetoric, with a minor in Creative Writing. They love collecting records, thrifting, writing about music, and re-watching NBC Hannibal. You can probably find them sipping a lavender latte, daydreaming about next year's Spotify Wrapped, and pretending they live in the 70s.