In 2016, Billie Eilish graced us with her poignant yet blue lyrics and angelic vocals with “Ocean Eyes.” Since then, all she has released is various singles and her EP “don’t smile at me.” Her influence has spawned to other artists, and she has introduced us to this new wave of embracing sadness and depressive states in music. Unlike other pop artists, she doesn’t attempt to create happy dance tracks, but somehow can still get Lollapalooza Chicago off their feet during her set. Her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, has shown us just a glimpse into her progression as an artist, and she doesn’t lose any of her signature charm.
Full Disclosure: I wrote an article a few months ago referencing Eilish’s music and how it could encourage depression. This was my mentality before listening to her album; I created an entire ceremony to get into the mood. I lay in my bed, lights off, various crystals around me ready to cry for ten hours straight. After listening to it probably around four times through, I realized that I had gone about it all wrong. From the introduction, she is poking fun at herself, screaming “THE INVISALIGN HAS BEEN TAKEN OUT,” going into her first track “bad guy.” Just based on the intoxicating bass line, you can already feel the same weirdness she has taken as her identity. “bad guy” and “my strange addiction” take a turn from her previously released material with a more positive and upbeat vibe. She has managed to keep her melancholy, nonchalant energy, while still creating fun songs for her listeners, bringing in soundbites from The Office, or talking about her attitude towards relationships. It definitely isn’t Ariana Grande or Camila Cabello syrupy happy pop, but that isn’t what Billie Eilish has ever sought to be.
Of course, most of us had heard “you should see me in a crown,” “bury a friend,” and “when the party’s over,” released as singles months before her album. Alone the songs are strong but, in the album, it feels more like a transition between each of her moods. Even so, these are by far not the best songs she showed us. On my personal favorite “xanny,” she shows her point of view on drug and drinking culture; it’s somehow both hauntingly beautiful and tragic as her emotive voice makes me want to swear off all substances forever. “8” creates a childlike emotion with the bright ukulele and pitched up vocals. Even though the song is her reminiscing on a failed relationship, the simple and nostalgic hook makes me want to sing this to a baby as a lullaby. She captured the innocence of her puppy love, and if you like interpretation, I think she is trying to explain how this relationship made her feel small again, like a kid. The finale, “goodbye,” is quite possibly my favorite album outro to ever exist. She implies that she’s leaving this mood, era, feeling behind as she samples songs from the album as Eilish says goodbye to her listeners.
Brother sister duo Finneas and Billie Eilish have composed a beautiful album that is sure to inspire many artists to come. What makes this so special is the pure emotion that’s captured from Eilish’s vocal talent and the intimate method of recording: on her brother’s bed surrounded by pillows. We see an immense amount of character, heartbreak, happiness, and emotion. Thank you, Billie, for introducing reality and hitting each heartstring in this album. When I fall asleep, I sure hope I go into the same creative space she rules over.
COVER PHOTO: Music Week