A Breakdown of Billie Eilish's WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?

The second I heard Billie Eilish's “ocean eyes” in my friend's car, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! Billie’s high melodic voice proved the perfect pairing to her cynical lyrics. Before I knew it, I found myself obsessing over Billie’s debut EP, dont smile at me. BUT I WANTED MORE. After months of teasing, Billie has finally released her album, WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?. Each song is “something that happens when you’re asleep—sleep paralysis, night terrors, nightmares, lucid dreams.” “This is my child,” Billie also said about the album, “and you get to hold it while it throws up on you.” Read below to get a comphrensive review of each of the 14 songs on the album! Beware: lots of fangirling. 

 

1. !!!!!!!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (I may be a biased reviewer….)

The title “!!!!!!!” perfectly encompasses my mood as I begin my listening session of WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO. This is a momentous occasion! Billie Eilish has released her first full-length studio album. AHHHHHHHH!! After this momentary freakout, I push play and beging listening to “!!!!!!!” At just 13 seconds, the intro is pretty weird but perfectly represents Billie’s insane (but loveable!) personality. She and her brother, Finneas can be heard laughing over Invisalign, a frequent topic of chagrin. Billie is known to hate on her own experience with them and once posted, “tell Invisalign to go f*ck itself I hate that sh*t.” 

2. bad guy

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (am I going to give every song 5 stars?) 

Intoxicatingly scary, “bad guy” features Billie mockingly confronting a former lover who believes he’s “so criminal.” As the song plays on though, we soon realize that it is not simply an ode to a boy but towards Billie herself. Lyrics such as “I do what I want when I’m wanting to” emphasize that Billie is in control. “I’m that bad type/ Make your mama sad type/ Might seduce your dad type/ I’m the bad guy (Duh)” reveals that Billie will never be the type of girl you dream about—she’s a vision from your nightmares.   

3. xanny 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (yes, yes, I am going to give every song 5 stars!) 

An emotional song about addiction, Billie reveals her personal experience with those who are hopelessly dependent on drugs. Lyrics such as “I can’t afford to love someone/ Who isn’t dying by mistake in Silver Lake” features Billie introspectively analyzing her limits. Drugs don’t appeal to her, and addicts are “nothing but unstable.” At the song’s finale, Billie ultimately decides heartbreak is inevitable when you are dealing with an addict. She has learned a lesson the hard way. 

4. you should see me in a crown 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Inspired by the TV show Sherlock, the song features Billie's warnings to “wait ‘till the world is mine.” She is not swayed by superficial compliments as she sings “you say, 'come on over, baby/ I think you’re pretty'/ I’m okay, I’m not your baby.” Billie refuses to be someone’s baby but is the ruler of her own life. She can easily dream of a future in which she wears a crown and “run[s] this nothing town.” YESS GIRL!!! 

 

5. all the good girls go to hell

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE!! The whole song is a twist on traditional Christian ideas and symbolism. “My lucifer is lonely” is referring to Billie’s personal demons. The lyrics “Peter’s on vacation, an open invitation” refer to Saint Peter, who is said to guard heaven in Christian texts. Without Peter, anyone is free to enter and leave heaven as they so choose. “Pearly Gates look more like a picket fence”—although it is the goal of everyone in American society, the gates also create a constricting frame of reference. Traditional middle-class life has often been associated with strict rules governing gender and sexuality. Billie doesn't want to go to heaven if its too constricting. She shares her belief that all humans are corrupt and remarks “Peter should know better / your cover up is caving in.” Billie’s songs are definitely not frivolous!! 

6. wish you were gay 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Billie is human and reveals that she too has experienced rejection. She laments “I can’t tell you how much I wish I didn’t wanna stay/ I just kinda wish you were gay.”  Billie is struggling to understand the truth: “To give your lack of interest an explanation/ Don’t say I'm not your type/ Just say that I’m not your preferred sexual orientation.” *sigh* Rejection is freaking hard. This song evokes a melancholy nostalgia. “wish you were gay” is an anti-love song—a song that is highly relatable and very much needed. 

7. when the party’s over 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 Billie again reflects on a past relationship. She remarks “Don’t you know I’m not good for you?” but reveals that her feelings are more complicated than that. The lyrics “Quiet when I’m coming home and I’m on my own/ I could lie, say it like that, like it like that” reveals that Billie does not want to stay away from this love. She has moments of weakness, and completely letting go is even harder if she continues to see this person. She knows she needs space and proclaims “Let’s just let it go/ Let me let you go.” The song ends without a final resolution. Becoming independent is a process that she is still navigating. 

8. 8 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Billie has revealed that this song is written from the perspective of a scorned lover. The roles are reversed from the previous songs on the album. Billie is the heartbreaker who has not given her love to a person. Heavily ukulele-based, the song also features a childish voice-over that some fans speculate represents the immaturity Billie displayed to this person. Love is hard and repetitive. Billie is being left because another person feels the same way, shown in the words: “’Cause who am I to be in love/ When your love never is for me, me?”  

9. my strange addiction 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The beginning of the song features a sound snippet from hit show, The Office. Billie is known for expressing her love for show, and during her headlining tour, she routinely opened her shows with The Office’s theme song. my strange addiction is ANOTHER ONE OF MY FAVES! An addicting beat combined perfectly with Billie’s soft-toned voice, she explains that she is involved in a tenuous relationship that will inevitably end. Billie sings that she “take[s] what I want when I wanna/ And I want ya,” despite the fact that she dares them to “tell me nothing lasts, like I don’t know.” Sometimes it’s easier to get into the mindset that all relationships inevitably end badly. Don’t get attached. Live in the moment. This advice is definitely not healthy, but Billie tugs on a common mindset that many people possess. Sometimes relationships really do seem to resemble a ticking time bomb. 

10. bury a friend 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Reportedly written from the perspective of the monster under Billie Eilish’s bed, “bury a friend” explores the feelings of her inner mindset. Before releasing the song, Billie said “I confess I’m also this monster because I’m my own worst enemy” and “I might be the monster under your bed too.” TBH I wouldn’t mind Billie being my monster. Aside from that, “bury a friend” features an anxiety-ridden monster, which has her questioning, “What do you want from me? Why don’t you run from me? / What are you wondering? What do you know?” and declaring “I wanna end me.” The darket parts of Billie are on display here. 

11. ilomilo 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The title is based on a puzzle game in which a player must reunite two friends, ilo and milo, who always seem to get separated. “ilomilo” is a song detailing the fears of separation, and Billie sings that she can’t lose another person: “the friends I’ve had to bury / They keep me up at night/ Said I couldn’t love someone/ ‘Cause I might break/ If you’re gonna die, not by mistake.” With these lyrics, Billie is referencing two other songs from her album, “bury a friend” and “xanny.” Billie has experienced loss after loss and does not want to go through that again. Again, she would prefer to ignore reality and believe the lie that this person is on their way home.

12. listen before I go 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The darkest song on the album, “listen before I go,” centers around feelings of depression. In the past, Billie has been very vocal about her own struggles with depression and has told her fans that she hoped this song will “be like a mental hug.” Maintaining good mental health is extremely important, and seeking help is never something to be ashamed of. Billie lets us all know we are not alone and that it's okay to admit, “I’m not okay, I feel so scattered.” 

13. i love you 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

An acoustic ballad similar to that of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” “i love you” follows Billie admitting that she is in love. Throughout the song, however, she wrestles with the declaration: “Maybe won’t you take it back/ Say you were tryna make me laugh/ And nothing has to change.” Admitting that you’re in love is a huge step. It’s making yourself vulnerable and trusting that the person will feel the same. Billie admits that she “can’t escape the way I love you.” 

14. goodbye 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Billie has revealed that the last three songs on the album are intended to form a sentence “listen before I go, I love you goodbye.” In addition, this song is also a compilation of lyrics from each of the thirteen previous song but in reverse order. Billie told MTV that “I don’t like when a song just ends an album and then nothing feels like it’s actually over.” SOOO COOL!! I’m shook and sad that it’s all over now. 

I absolutely loved Billie’s album! My personal favorites were “xanny” and “all the good girls go to hell.” Billie has proved she is a force to be reckoned with within the pop world.