Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke once took his teenage daughter to a Billie Eilish concert. After seat dancing with Sam Smith nearby, he made his way backstage after the show. He met the teen sensation and told her something that Eilish's brother and producer, Finneas O'Connell, described as "the coolest thing anyone's ever said" to her. What were Yorke's words to Billie Eilish?
"You’re the only one doing anything f---ing interesting nowadays.”
Whether she's debuting her first two studio albums at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, sweeping the 62nd Grammy Awards, or being the youngest artist to record a James Bond theme song, Billie Eilish's "interesting" has turned her into a 21st century teen icon.
With the release of her sophomore album, Happier Than Ever, 19-year-old Eilish continues to push the boundaries of music with her genre-defying sound. Her first album sounded dark and almost demonic at times, while her new album feels more chill, fresh, and relaxed despite some sad themes here and there. Eilish has proven she's the queen of the pivot. But whether she's donning grungy green hair or pristine platinum blonde, the artist is always unapologetically herself - and that's what makes her truly "interesting."
Whether her songs are rough, jazzy, quiet, loud, serious, or lighthearted, it's hard to find a bad track in Eilish's discography. To celebrate her meteoric rise over these last few years, we've organized a top ten list of our favorite Billie Eilish songs. Check them out below!
Eilish is so good at improving her sound, we wanted to start this list off with "Ocean Eyes" (for nostalgic purposes of course), but couldn't because of the quality of her new tracks. The first song on our list is "NDA," which sees Billie detailing her struggles with fame and privacy.
From its plucky string riff to Billie's hushed verses, everything about this song feels like one giant secret. Eilish even shares some classified information: she talks about the stalker who wouldn't get away from her family's house back in May 2020, and even hints she bought a house when she was 17.
Like most of the tracks on Happier Than Ever, "NDA" also talks about Eilish's love life. With the lyrics, "Had a pretty boy over, but he couldn't stay / On his way out, made him sign an NDA / Yeah, I made him sign an NDA / Once was good enough / 'Cause I don't want him havin' s--t to say," Billie explains the intimacy of romance is difficult when fame puts your every move under a microscope.
9. "Therefore I Am"
Not only do we sincerely rank this as #9 on our list, it felt like a perfect follow-up to the last song, since Happier Than Ever has a wonderfully beatmatched transition between the two tracks!
In "Therefore I Am," Eilish tells those who use her name for clout to back off. The title for this track is a play on the famous philosophical quote, “I think, therefore I am.” Eilish is essentially saying that in order to achieve her level of success, you need to work smarter.
Everything about this song is playful. Its musical production consists of heavy kick drums, a swaggering beat, and braggadocious rapped verses between each catchy hook. The playfulness of the instrumentation is expanded upon further in the iconic music video, which features Eilish running through an empty mall. Released during the second wave of the pandemic, it offered fans a needed pick-me-up. Anyone else hungry for pretzels and donuts after watching Billie steal all that food?
8. "all the good girls go to hell"
A song describing hell on Earth is actually about...climate change?
Yup, "all the good girls go to hell" is about the rising waters and destructive wildfires that are unfortunately becoming the norm in California. Finneas confirmed fans' climate change theories in an interview with Vulture, mentioning that an interviewer once asked him about "fan conspiracies" like "all the good girls go to hell" being about climate change. Finneas replied, "That’s not a conspiracy theory. That’s just true."
In another take, "all the good girls go to hell" is Billie's twisting of Christian symbolism. The song is from the perspective of the devil, and claims that no matter how "good" you try to be, desperate measures will turn you "bad" eventually.
Of all the songs Eilish has created, we feel this song resonates the most with younger generations. It amplifies the worries many Millennial, Gen Z, and younger souls have about the world and future. Essentially, "all the good girls go to hell" was the song that turned Eilish not just into a superstar, but a voice of a generation.
7. "bury a friend"
Ever wonder what the monster under your bed is thinking? "bury a friend" is one of Eilish's personal favorite songs off WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? and is told from the perspective of a monster. It's the song that most emblemizes the sleep paralysis aspect of Eilish's first studio album, and a great song to play during your next Halloween party.
We love the unique everyday sounds used in this track which, as Billie and Finneas partly explained in a YouTube Music video, include a stapler, a timer ring, and even a drill that shaved off Eilish's teeth attachments when she went to the dentist.
Billie also recruited her pal, Mekhi Raine, to talk to her throughout the song. With Prismizer effects and distorted vocals, the creepy-yet-funky structure of "bury a friend" is to die for.
6. "everything i wanted"
Perhaps Eilish's most vulnerable song, "everything i wanted" is both terrifying and comforting. On one hand, it recalls a nightmare Eilish had where she committed suicide and saw all her friends and fans turn their backs on her. On the other hand, it explains that no matter what happens, her big brother Finneas will always be there to protect her from harm.
This song was the first single Eilish released after WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? and is a glimpse into a dark depression she experienced for two years. While it's not part of her debut album, it continues the nightmares and sleep paralysis symbolism of that project.
While "everything i wanted" is definitely a downer, it still has a solid beat, a captivating music video, and a good message about turning to the ones you care about most for help during troubled times. We love positive sibling relationships having their moments in art.
5. "you should see me in a crown"
Need a boost of confidence? The lead single off Eilish's first studio album, "you should see me in a crown," is a fast and daring song about taking control of your circumstances.
The title is actually a quote from the BBC show Sherlock, in which Jim Moriarty - played by everyone's favorite Fleabag hot priest, Andrew Scott - tells Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), "In a world of locked rooms, the man with the key is king. And honey, you should see me in a crown."
"you should see me in a crown" even makes a brief reference to "Ocean Eyes" in the first verse, since this song was written right after Eilish's breakout hit. "Me and my brother made that song, like, right after “ocean eyes”, and then we just like forgot about it, completely," Eilish told Matt Wilkonsin on Apple Music’s Beats 1. After a version was recorded when Billie was 13, the song was completely reworked years later.
Two music videos were created from this song: a vertical visual where Eilish lets creepy crawly spiders walk all over her, and an animated video by Takashi Murakami where Billie herself turns into a spider.
4. "when the party's over"
Our #4 pick, "when the party's over," is an audial representation of loneliness. Anyone else feel like they're in a cold, dark spot in a garage while listening to this? However, as Eilish has explained, this song isn't supposed to be sad - rather, it's more of an angry mood.
"when the party's over" has Eilish putting distance between her and an inconsiderate lover. She explained the vibe in a 2018 interview with coup de main. "You’re on the phone with someone and you can’t hear them, they can’t hear you, it’s loud, they’re mad at you for some reason," she said. "I feel like everybody’s had that struggle with someone – somebody on the phone yelling for some reason, and you’re just like, 'You know what? F---ing leave me alone.'"
The song is also a sequel to Eilish's track "party favor," which is part of her debut EP, don't smile at me. The tones between the two tracks are so different, we wonder what happened at this crazy party which compelled Billie to write two songs. Whatever it was, we're glad for it, as the wave of harmonies in "when the party's over" is absolutely gorgeous.
3. "my future"
We're in love with "my future," which Eilish chose to include on Happier Than Ever. It's a mellow tune that has our teen idol reflecting on both her past and future, and accepting everything the world has yet to offer. It's also a song about finding strength in solidarity, and not needing a romantic partnership to be fulfilled.
This song's release was noteworthy for a few reasons. It was the first personal single Eilish released after her James Bond track, "No Time to Die," was put out into the world. It was also an interestingly melancholic song for Eilish to drop in a time when she was primarily known for dark and depressing sounds. Finally, "my future" was brave enough to show optimism about the future in the summer of 2020: a time when many were uncertain about what would happen next in the pandemic.
As for some fun facts about this track, Eilish says this song feels purple and gold when it comes to her synesthesia, and "my future" was appropriately played during the end credits of her Apple TV+ documentary, Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry.
2. "Happier Than Ever"
Billie saves the best for (almost) last on her new record.
The title track of Happier Than Ever is a mix of slow, rough, and loud that gives off modern day "Bohemian Rhapsody" vibes. It's also got a final punk edge that contributes to the 2020s' trend of a rock revival. We think in years to come, this song will be considered a classic.
Let's break down what makes "Happier Than Ever" so good. First, there's the cathartic message about getting over an ex that wasn't good for your mental health. For Eilish, that ex was L.A. rapper Brandon Adams, who appears all over her Apple TV+ documentary.
In the film, she noted, "I just wasn’t happy. And I didn’t want the same things he wanted and I don’t think that’s fair for him. I don’t think you should be in a relationship, super excited about certain things that the other person couldn’t care less about. There was just a lack of effort, I think."
The second thing that makes "Happier Than Ever" a standout track is Billie's vocals. (Holy cow, was she hiding a wicked belt!) The mix of jazzy quiet notes in the beginning and hardcore wailing in the second half of the song makes it feel like a complete story rather than a stoic track.
"Happier Than Ever" is packed with intimacy, pain, and rockstar P!nk-esque guitar riffs and vocals. Billie sings like a butterfly, then stings like a bee. We can't wait to see what she creates next.
1. "bad guy"
While "Happier Than Ever" is a noteworthy bop in Eilish's discography, it's hard to know if its popularity will settle down once the hype around the new album is over.
"bad guy," however, remains Eilish's biggest success, and is already considered a classic of the late 2010s.
While "Happier Than Ever" is the closing of a chapter for Billie, "bad guy" is the studio album exposition of her personality. It's playful, dark, a little risqué, and packed with imagery that shows off Eilish's prowess as a songwriter. (Even though she's explained in her documentary she dislikes the songwriting process.)
Just like the previous song, "bad guy" also has a mix of tones, vocals, and instrumentation that sets it apart from other songs on WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? The bass-heavy beat is so easy to dance to. So are the whispy synth tones in the chorus, the clicky snapping, Billie's harmonies...it's practically a mini orchestra! There's also that slowed, creepy laughing part of the song, which fans often call the "sexy part" of "bad guy."
And what's more? The music video for "bad guy" is already considered a staple of American pop culture. From the yellow wall breakthrough to cruising down a suburb with a bicycle gang, singing in a snorkeling mask and sitting on a man doing push-ups, Eilish's amusing behavior is nothing short of entertaining.
For a "bad guy" who might seduce your dad, Eilish sure does know how to make a good hit.
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