Opinion: Billie Eilish Drops Genius Debut Album
Billie Eilish breaks the musical mold and brings innovation to each track.
Billie Eilish performs at The Forum. Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish started her career on SoundCloud in 2016. Three years later, she is playing in the big leagues and is giving the world a bit of brilliance with the drop of her debut album. Eilish is showing she is not your typical 17-year-old artist, and this album solidifies the genius within her work.
On March 29, Eilish dropped “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” The spine-chilling album features a total of 14 tracks each individually crafted to spark eerie curiosity.
The opener kicks off the album in a quirky way that’s nothing less than Eilish herself. Only 14 seconds long, it starts with ASMR-esque slurps and crackles. She says, “I have taken out my Invisalign and this is the album.” An atypical start to the album serves a greater purpose of illustrating Eilish’s persona.
“Bad Guy” then takes center stage. Its staccato nature paired with Eilish’s signature vocal overlay creates the perfect opening song. But what supersedes the contrast of alluring whispers against bass-driven musicality is the song’s meaning. Eilish seems to mock her lover as she shows off her rugged personality.
An unexpected surprise then proceeds as Eilish sings an anti-drug composition called “Xanny.” The chorus says, “I’m in their second hand smoke/ Still just drinking canned Coke/ I don’t need a Xanny to feel better.” In a world that’s always pushing for that so-called “fun,” Eilish is going against this status quo in the edgiest way possible.
“Xanny” is undeniably one of my favorites off of the album; the artistry within it is brilliant. Eilish sings in a breathy, high-like manner, which juxtaposes the song’s significance. Then, the soft, almost robotic vocals of the chorus craft a smooth listen as background dialogue is heard throughout the song.
But Eilish continues on with her creativity. “You Should See Me In A Crown,” inspired by Sherlock and the lead single off of the album, encapsulates the importance of detail. Warped sounds bounce from left to right to fill the carefully composed track, while her vocals stay at a tenor. After hearing this song, the crown belongs to none other than Eilish.
Switching the vibe, Eilish enters into a realm of acoustic guitars in the verses of “Wish You Were Gay.” The almost sweet lyrics depict a situation where a boy didn’t like her back. She sings, “To spare my pride/ 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.”
But what makes this song evermore so intriguing is how she counts down throughout its entirety. Finneas O’Connell, Eilish’s co-writer and brother, said this was intentionally done as a way of saying you need 12 steps to quit somebody as if that person were an addiction.
“8” is another happy song per se. It sounds as if a child is singing in the verses and highlights, yet again, a time where love has fallen through the cracks. A ukulele is present alongside wind instruments and unique vocal mixing, which paints an almost tropical vibe.
While each song has distinctive vocals and musicality, “My Strange Addiction” sets the bar with mention of the Oxford comma –– something I am entirely against –– and snippets of “The Office.” Eilish shows she can take something so simple and turn it into a musical masterpiece.
As the album goes song by song, one would think Eilish can’t possibly find another way of taking the music industry by surprise –– but she does just this with “Bury A Friend” and “Ilomilo.”
Picture this: You’re watching a horror film where the lead role is turning corners, side-stepping weary nuances and the intensity simply grows thicker. If the film had a soundtrack, it would surely include these two songs.
With lyrics such as “step on the glass, staple your tongue” in “Bury A Friend” and the uncanny, music box instrumental in “Ilomilo,” you’ll want to keep checking behind you.
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” takes Eilish out of the stereotypical 17-year-old mold while each song paints its own narrative by outshining the next. She crafts excellence and overflows the cup of brilliance with each snare, harmony and note.