Genre: Pop/ Electro pop
Billie Eilish needs no introduction but in case you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of years, she managed to win the hearts of millions of people all around the world as well as 10 Grammys next to other awards. Other people are just starting to figure out what to do with their lives and here she is, at 19 releasing her second studio album which contains 16 tracks.
Track 4 and 14 have been out for a while now, but style and theme wise it makes sense that they are on the album. Three other songs, respectively “Your Power”, “Lost Cause” and “NDA” have also been released prior to the album, giving people a little sneak peak about what to expect. They all have music videos that correspond to the by now well known Billie aesthetic. “Not My Responsibility”, the spoken words from the 2020 short film also made it on the album.
For some reason she has been getting some hate lately in the online sphere both because of the sound of the songs and accusation of queerbaiting… and other things, but this is a review about the album and not about what cancel culture has a problem with currently, so the discussion will not take these outside accusations into consideration, mainly because there is no way of choosing a side from the outside.
Soft, dreamy vocals overtake the entire 56 minutes and 15 seconds, while the journey begins with “Getting Older”. The production is very simple, offering space for the vocals to overtake the whole… and I have a feeling that this will be a general occurrence over the course of the entire album. The song is written from a very vulnerable place by a young artist who in the eyes of the outside world has a perfect life but has gone through trauma in secret and is dealing with it on her own, promising that everything will be fine. Growing up while the entire world is watching is a peculiar thing. The song has a bittersweet feel to it, confessing a certain sadness but is also very hopeful.
"I've had some trauma, did things I didn't wanna
Was too afraid to tell ya, but now, I think it's time"
Finneas, her producer brother, is known for constantly recording random sounds and using them in his productions, so “I Didn’t Change My Number” is no different. It begins with what sounds like a dog growl, suggesting a switch from the vulnerable to something more aggressive. A past relationship takes the center stage in this production where the beat mirrors the lyrics perfectly and creates an unnerving atmosphere. Distancing herself from a person who seems to not be over her is the plot here, it is passively angry and sometimes even threatening. Why did I say passively? Because it is from the perspective of a person who is angry and deserves to be, but can reflect on the situation with maturity.
"Maybe you should leave
Before I get too mean
And take it out on you
And your best friend too"
“Billie Bossa Nova” is the third track and again changes the mood. Bossa nova is a Brazilian popular music that evolved from merging samba with jazz and blues. It is smooth and rhythmic, maybe even nostalgic, and the dance requires subtle body movements. The title already suggests the genre of the song and the content is lighthearted, about a love story while on tour and being constantly followed by paparazzi. Finneas declared in an interview with Rolling Stones that there are a lot of things they have to do to avoid getting followed to their rooms by the photographers so they wanted to write about these experiences but spiced it up with a mystery love affair.
"It might be more of an obsession
You really make a strong impression
Nobody saw me in the lobby
Nobody saw me in your arms"
“my future” has been out for a while and discussed already, so we are going to jump right into track 5. Oxytocin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that is involved in childbirth and breast-feeding. It is also associated with empathy, trust, sexual activity, and relationship-building. It is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” because levels of oxytocin increase during hugging and orgasm, according to Medical news today. It is also the title of the song that begins with a faster beat. This one is definitely on the crazier side, both the beat and the composition are peculiar but make you want to jump up and sing along to it. A dependent relationship is what drives this tune, with very clear sexual associations and suggestions. Someone on Genius wrote that this one will be very fun live, and I can not help but agree.
"If you only pray on Sunday
Could you come my way on Monday?
'Cause I like to do things God doesn't approve of if she saw us"
“GOLDWING” is the shortest song on the album and the beginning sounds like a church choir singing a religious hymn or gospel. Perfectly soft vocals layered on top of each other lift you up and make you feel like you are in heaven. It is kind of ironic that this song comes right after “Oxytocin”, in which she performs actions that “God doesn’t approve of”, maybe like a form of atonement or purification. I got to admit, I think this my favourite off the album so far, the way the introduction makes you feel, the way the entire atmosphere changes after the first minute and the beat comes in, the lyrics… “GOLDWING” is definitely something else.
Go home, don't tell
Anyone what you are
You're sacred and they're starved
And their art is gettin' dark
And there you are to tear apart"
Another interesting placement is “Lost cause”, which already came out prior to the album so there not much more to say about it, but vocally it is definitely one of her most captivating creations.
By now it is becoming clear that in the shaping of this album, alternating upbeat and downtempo songs was also taken into consideration, and as expected “Halley’s Comet” is another mellow production. This beautifully crafted love song is filled with vulnerability and strong emotions. As suggested earlier, I am a sucker for good instrumental breaks and changes inside one track so this one is also on my list of favourites.
Comes around more than I do
But you're all it takes for me to break a promise
Silly me to fall in love with you
“Not My Responsibility” is the spoken word video interlude Billie released in early 2020 and discusses the objectification of women in the entertainment industry based on their body image. But not just the entertainment industry, really, women all around the world are objectified every single day and their worth is decided by strangers solely based on looks.
“OverHeated” is the first song after the interlude, and mind you, the transition is perfect. It seems to further go into the theme of “Not My Responsibility”. It was probably inspired by some paparazzi pictures that went viral because they showed her wearing clothes that were not baggy, “finally” letting the world know how her body looks like, giving it up for discussion, as if that was the most important thing about a young talented woman.
And everybody said it was a let down
I was only built like everybody else now
But I didn't get a surgery to help out
'Cause I'm not about to redesign myself now, am I?
“Everybody Dies” tackles an existential question that I’m sure everyone has struggled with in their lives. Fear of death and the unknown is what drives this song, but even if the theme is sad, Billie is comforting and tells people that they are not alone no matter what.
"You oughta know
That even when it's time, you might not wanna go
But it's okay to cry and it's alright to fall
But you are not alone"
The next three songs have been out and discussed multiple times to I will not spend too much time on them, but I did want to mention “NDA” which was peculiar at first listen and did get some nasty comments online, however I think it is the type of song that you get used to only after hearing it several times and then you get obsessed. I have to admit I did not like it at the beginning but now I love it. And the video as well, Billie has a great sense of artistic mastery.
And now… number 15, we got to the title track. The vocal melody has an old air to it at the beginning and only becomes contemporary with Verse 2. I believe this will make the song timeless. Now that I listened to this one, I have to say that it overtakes “GOLDWING” on the favourites list. It is obvious why they chose it as the title track and in my opinion it is the best track on the album. The most complex production, composition, build-up, style change… it is really really good. A very problematic relationship is described that makes her angry, in the first part we don’t get to know the underlying problems but after the style changes the song becomes angry and describes many things that he did wrong.
You ruined everything good
Always said you were misunderstood
Made all my moments your own
Just fuckin' leave me alone
“Male Fantasy” is a beautiful way to end the album. A recent heartbreak and the line between fantasy love and real life is what drives this song. Incredibly beautiful harmonies and melodies describe the situation.
Home alone, tryin’ not to eat
Distract myself with pornography
I hate the way she looks at me
I can’t stand the dialogue, she would never be
That satisfied, it’s a male fantasy
I’m goin’ back to therapy
A YouTube comment I read under the lyrics video really encompasses the general feeling of this album: “We saw Billie as a teenager with her previous album and now we get to see her as a woman”. No song feels like it’s just there to fill up the space, each and every track has it’s special place for the narrative, each and every track is necessary. Overall this album did not disappoint, on the contrary, it showed a different, evolved side of Billie and it really makes you wonder what other things the future holds for this talented soul.