Image from Spin
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” is beautifully, wonderfully haunting
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” is Billie Eilish’s debut album. Eilish has been making music with her brother, Finneas, since she was 14. The now 17-year-old is making major waves in the music world, currently being the 12th most streamed artist on Spotify worldwide. Her album has become the second most purchased album of 2019 a week after its release.
Beautifully haunting sound
Eilish is known for her sad style, with songs on the album like “when the party’s over” and “listen before i go” sticking to her brand. She did change her style a bit for her studio debut, with songs like “bad guy” having a more upbeat sound, clearly being very influenced by EDM-style rhythms and beats. In theory, a happier song from Eilish sounds like a terrible idea, but she manages to make it work very well. In fact, her more upbeat songs stand out far more than her usual angst-driven songs, due to their ambition. Eilish may have struck gold in her mix of upbeat rhythms and darker underlying themes.
Eilish’s voice is beautiful yet creepy. She has been describing her album as both a dream and a nightmare, and her voice wonderfully reflects that. Eilish has a wonderful balance with her falsetto and the bass of the songs. She also seems to have mastered the effect of whispering in a song when the music gets cut. She even growls some of her lyrics in “all the good girls go to hell” and the song still manages to be beautiful. Her creepy lyrics, mixed with her delicate voice, give the listener a combination that always keeps them on their toes.
From the scarn to scorn
Overall, the lyrics seem to focus on the themes of love and death, which is a strange combination, but Eilish makes it work. Eilish’s songwriting is very pessimistic. Her songs about love are more forlorn, more concerned with love lost or a love that she will never have. It’s an interesting twist on the standard bubblegum pop themes of falling in love. In this Ariana Grande-driven era of pop music, a large theme in the music world has become self-love. Eilish puts her own spin on this with “you should see me in a crown.” While the song is about Eilish feeling that she is deserving of being a queen, it also appears she has intentions on becoming a tyrant. Eilish is completely aware of this in the song, talking about forcing her subjects to bow to her and even killing them. It seems like the song is more about using her negative qualities instead of embracing her more positive traits, which is practically the opposite of what most pop artists are doing currently.
Eilish also had several jokes and references scattered throughout her album. She starts the album with an introduction where she makes a joke about taking out her Invisalign. In her song “my strange addiction,” clips from The Office play throughout. Eilish uses the nostalgia of The Office fans by referencing Michael Scott’s movie and his dance “the scarn.” Eilish even titled one of her songs “ilomilo,” of which she revealed that the song is based on a video game that she used to love as a kid. It’s very impressive to see someone able to combine nostalgia with such dark themes and still be so successful.
The social media generation
Eilish’s music seems to be very driven by mobile devices. Several of her tracks use a 3D audio effect, which makes it feel as if the song is moving around you as you listen with headphones. As cool as that can be, it also means that they don’t have the same effect if you’re not using headphones. For example, the usage of this effect causes the song “xanny” to fall a bit flat without headphones. It appears the song is only made the way it is to add more of this effect, but without being very effective. While the lyrics of the song are very meaningful and help to show Eilish’s struggle being in the spotlight and how drugs are often around, the heavy bass and effects distract from the otherwise wonderful message. The song would have been better off if she allowed it to speak for itself, instead of adding flashy effects that distract from the words. Her other songs that use this effect are far more successful because even without headphones the songs remain beautiful.
Eilish does a lot of content with the intention of people viewing her work on their phones. Several of her music videos have been made specifically for phones to be viewed on IGTV. Considering she is only 17, it makes sense for her to use social media in this way because she has really grown up with it. There is a risk there that some of her older fans who don’t enjoy using their phones as much may be pushed away by this. It’s interesting to see how her social media presence has truly shaped her album and changed the ways it can be viewed. She uses trends on social media to help her with her songs. The 3D audio effect she uses has multiple YouTube channels dedicated to editing songs to use it. She also used The Office for one of her songs, an extremely praised show on the internet. She is very skilled in finding what people like on social media and taking advantage of it for her music.
bury a friend
listen before i go
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Featured Image: Spin
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