Graphics by Nicole Bae
By Lily Doolin, Blog Editor
When you visit eighteen-year-old singer-songwriter Billie Eilish’s website, you’re greeted by a photo of her boasting her outlandish, trademark style. Her roots are dyed a neon, slime-green to match her claw-length nails. She stares back at you sleepily, begging the question that is also the name of her world tour: When we all fall asleep, where do we go? There are the typical links to merch and tour dates, but then your eyes fall up something called “Billie’s Room.”
If you’re like me, you’re dying to know what’s in Billie’s Room, because there’s something about this girl that is… well, quite frankly, weird, but also entrancing. The Billie’s Room link leads you into a virtual recreation of the bedroom of a teenage girl with a dark side. You’re transported to this tiny room bathed in ominous red fluorescent lighting. Posters of Eilish’s own tour, herself, and some of her cover art plaster the walls. There are racks upon racks of various sneakers and baseball caps–it’s well-known Eilish is a fashion addict–while a bookcase in the corner of the room decorated with records, board games, a speaker system, and a plaque to commemorate Eilish’s immense following on YouTube (25.7 million, ICYMI).
Oh yeah, and don’t forget the skull with veins of black blood and the unlit assortment of candles grouped around some creepy-looking dolls. Can’t miss ’em.
Call Billie Eilish crazy, zany, or just downright strange, because she kinda is all of those. But you cannot deny she is also incredibly talented, and one of the best artists in the game right now.
From Soundcloud Anonymity to Billboard Mainstay
Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell learned the basics of singing and songwriting from their mother, actress and singer-songwriter Maggie Baird. O’Connell, the eldest of the two, formed his own band and began writing and producing songs, while Eilish–at just the age of five–wrote her first song, and later wrote songs for her brother’s band.
In 2015, Eilish recorder “Ocean Eyes,” a somber, simple tune on love with a visceral emotional impact. Though originally written for O’Connell’s band, Eilish herself recorded it. With her brother’s help, they produced the song and posted it to SoundCloud, a streaming platform similar to that of Spotify or Apple Music.
That’s when it all began for Eilish and O’Connell.
Within months, “Ocean Eyes” was receiving high critical praise, getting millions of streams, and even receiving radio play. It’s hard to imagine just how insane this immediate stardom is: Among the millions of random rappers and garage bands posting on Soundcloud, Eilish found her way through the noise and rose to the top.
But make no mistake–this was no chance. Eilish and O’Connell’s breakout hit–a genre-bending ballad showcasing Eilish’s unusual but alluring whisper-like soprano vocals–was destined to be more than just a viral moment. Just two years later, “Ocean Eyes” was certified Platinum by the RIAA, and Eilish was on the way to release her EP, Don’t Smile at Me.
“I’m the bad guy… duh!”
Just two months after Don’t Smile at Me reached 1 billion streams on Spotify, Eilish released her first full-length album, the infamous When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and made Eilish a household name. The project, produced and co-written with O’Connell, broke almost all the records imaginable, and had everyone from little kids in the backseat, to my grandmother, asking, “Who is this Billie Eilish people keep talking about?”
When We All Fall Asleep also gave rise to the visual aesthetic that adds to the genre-bending sound of Eilish’s music. The album cover depicts a deranged looking Eilish, the whites of her eyes overtaking her irises. She sits in all white on a messy bed, the rest of the background an inky black. Many of Eilish’s performances mirror the same vibe, including creepy crawlers on the screen behind her and her goth-reminiscent style. Listening to Eilish’s music immediately immerses you in her world of strangeness.
The fifth single off of When We All Fall Asleep, “Bad Guy,” was the song to cement her stardom. “Bad Guy” unseated Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” from number one on the charts after it’s record-breaking 19-week stint. Eilish is now the youngest person to have a single at number one since Lorde.
She’s also now the youngest person and first woman to win the four main Grammy categories. Eilish, with the help of O’Connell, swept Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist, while also picking up Best Pop Vocal Album, at the 62nd Grammy’s.
Billie Eilish, at just 18 years old, will now live on in music history–duh!