Seventeen-year-old Billie Eilish is currently at the forefront of pop music and on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? made its way straight to number one in several countries, and many of her singles have found themselves climbing the singles charts, whilst Eilish has found her way into the hearts of music critics too, who label her sound as ‘self-aware’, ‘striking‘ and ‘hyper-modern…but classic‘. Whatever the term people use to describe her music, Billie Eilish is undoubtedly mastering it.
Despite the sudden influx of Eilish’s name on social media, she first rose to prominence in 2016 when her quietly dreamy single ‘Ocean Eyes’ went viral. The synth-heavy backdrop captures an otherworldly insight into falling in love, using the nature metaphor of an ocean to explore the depths of her desires and worries with the infatuation. Although only fourteen when she wrote it, the softness of Eilish’s voice blends in well with the brewing electronic background to create something that feels genuine and from first-hand experience. The song was written by her equally musical brother, Finneas, intended for his band initially. After believing her voice would suit the song, Eilish and Finneas uploaded it onto Soundcloud. To this day, Billie Eilish’s brother is an integral part to her music, co-writing and producing the album along her side.
After releasing a string of singles, Billie Eilish released her EP entitled don’t smile at me in the summer of 2017, becoming a sleeper hit that found success in sales nearly three months after its initial release. The EP has an electropop vibe with the similar hushed vocals that graced her first single, but this time had some high-profile features with Vince Staples and Khalid. The gradual notability of the EP meant that Eilish’s presence has been lingering consistently for the last year, creating a buzz ready for her debut album.
Fast forward to today, and When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is enjoying holding onto first place in the album charts. In this album, Billie Eilish seems to experiment with space and silence as an extra instrument. In ‘xanny’, she speaks of her disregard towards drugs, giving lullaby-like verses with meandering high piano keys, pausing before the slow beat of chorus comes in to contrast. This song demonstrates how Eilish can carry a song through different stages without it feeling too disjointed or confusing. Whilst the upbeat rhythms of ‘all the good girls go to hell’ and ‘bad guy’ tease expectations of religion and gender, twisting common beliefs in a playful tone. Eilish sings “My Lucifer is lonely”, battling with her lack of angel and prominence of doubt and fear, which follows into ‘bad guy’ where she mentions “I’m only good at being bad”. In the most dance-worthy moments in the album, Eilish continues to reflect on the ‘badness’ within her and how it overpowers any perception of goodness or purity in her.
The irony of contrasting music and lyricism leaves us, as listeners, guessing Billie’s next move and her true self. She may be the most popular name in music out there right now, but Billie Eilish is an artist that will keep you questioning long past your first listen.
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is available now via Darkroom/Interscope Records.