Billie Eilish Puts a Dark Twist on Pop with First Studio Album

Robin Blassberg  A&E Editor

On March 29, 17 year old Billie Eilish released her first studio album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”

This album distances itself from Eilish’s EP, “Don’t Smile at Me,” released in 2017 ranging from it’s  thematic content to overall tone. Compared to her EP’s pop feel, this new release takes on a darker, edgier mood. Although this is true, the album does not take itself seriously. “My Strange Addiction” features quotes from “The Office,” “!!!!!!!” is Eilish celebrating taking her Invisalign out, and “Wish You Were Gay” is paired with a laugh track.

Everything about this piece of work is honest. Eilish delves into herself, revealing all sides and gives listeners a look into being a teenager, a famous one at that, in today’s world.

When Eilish began recording the album, her goal was to dip into various music genres so that if 13 different people were put into a room, each of them would like at least one song. While the album doesn’t always exactly follow this rule because of her musical limitations, Eilish excels when she does stray from her normal acoustics.

The album’s humorous introduction “!!!!!!!” reveals instantly that Eilish has just taken out her last set of Invisalign and welcomes us to her album. The lighthearted first track quickly spills into the second song off the record entitled “Bad Guy” which is unapologetically a pop song.

“You Should See Me in a Crown” is the first single Eilish released from the record that dates back to August of 2018. Despite the inner conflicts she faces throughout the course of the album, Eilish lets her ego shine through here. A menacing beat, soft but impactful vocals, and the accompanying video that entails a furry, 8 legged creature crawling in and out of Eilish’s mouth help further her status as one of the darkest alternative acts out right now.

A similarly creepy atmosphere also appears in “Bury a Friend,” but instead of narcissistic lyrics, Eilish tears down the walls by impaling, “I wanna end me” into the listener’s ears. It becomes apparent that Eilish is going against herself at this point, and continues with equally as cold lyrics such as, “Step on the glass, staple your tongue, bury a friend” over a gothic-R&B beat that adds to the storytelling.

Although self reflection is ever present in this album, Eilish takes a turn into love songs, with pieces such as “I Love You,” “My Strange Addiction,” and “Wish You Were Gay.” Despite its name, “I Love You” is not a typical love song. She dives into the topic of seemingly forbidden love with this eerie, haunting song. She pleads with the subject of her song, “Maybe won’t you take it back/Say you were tryna make me laugh/And nothing has to change today/You didn’t mean to say ‘I love you.’” She ends her ballad with the powerful lines, “There’s nothing you could do or say/I can’t escape the way, I love you/I don’t want to, but I love you.” Eilish feels strongly about this release. According to her Instagram, she believes this is the “most important song” she has ever made.

Riddled with quotes from “The Office,” “My Strange Addiction” amuses listeners with a unique beat, snarkily sneering out, “I’m the powder, you’re the fuse/Just add some friction.” She realizes she is talking not only romantically, but also, to someone who she should not be talking to. In the first verse, she explains she “Shoulda taken a break, not an Oxford Comma.” By taking a “Oxford Comma,” the subject of her song remains with her as the last thing to come after her “break.”

“Wish You Were Gay” is a unique song in terms of the subject matter. Eilish reveals her problems with love and simply wishing the person the song is about was gay so that their issues had an easier explanation. She yearns for them to “spare [her] pride/To give your lack of interest an explanation/Don’t say that I’m not your type/Just say that I’m not your preferred sexual orientation.” Due to these lyrics, among others, many have deemed the song problematic. Users have taken to Twitter to say, “A homophobic song called, ‘Wish You Were Gay’ is trending. Shame on us.” The song is most similar to “Don’t Smile at Me,” with it’s pop-album feel.

The release of Eilish’s second piece of work has undoubtedly been successful, even before it came out. On March 21, eight days before it’s release, the album had been pre-added over 800,000 times on Apple Music, the most of any artist. With her dreamy vocals, unique beats, and dark subject matter, this is of no surprise.

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