Goth-pop singer Billie Eilish is probably the biggest rising force in pop right now. There is an unholy amount of discourse as to whether or not she’s good; is she cringey? Is she fake-deep and wannabe edgy? Is she authentic or a calculated industry move? The sheer quality of her debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, should have quietened the furore, but dissenters are still out in force coming for a literal seventeen-year-old girl. We’ve had enough, so in case you somehow missed the train or are stubborn enough to resist getting on board or even acknowledging the girl’s talent, we’re here to lay it out for you.
1. Her voice
Yes, she has more than a hint of that indie girl affectation from that bananas and avocados vine. When it’s used this beautifully, though, and in the service of well-crafted songs; who cares? On WWAFAWDWG?, Eilish stops trying to sound like anyone else and settles into her unique vocal style, which barely rises above a whisper across the whole album. This was a smart move, because it makes the moments where her vocal is put through a manipulated shredder or stacked up to the sky in a beautiful array of harmonies that much more awe-inspiring.
2. She has bops for the gays
“bad guy”? A bop. “all the good girls go to hell”? Bop. “my strange addiction”? BOP. These are by no means the best songs on her album, but Billie knew that we’d want more “bellyache”s to wind our depressed waists to. A generous queen! Plus, when a guy doesn’t like her back, she just wishes they were gay! A true ally.
3. She has songs for the serotonin-bereft
Despite her sometimes abrasive personality, Eilish is able to be refreshingly candid in her music with a minimum of irony. See gorgeous acoustic guitar-fuelled “i love you”, the heat-rending “listen before i go,” or the swirling, sky-scraping triumph of the mostly acapella “when the party’s over”. Even the ukulele-girl moment on “8” doesn’t come across as cloying in the context of the darker album cuts. She knows what she’s doing with her debut album.
4. Coachella was her friend. She buried it
Just search the videos, you’ll see. She has a variety of songs, the stage presence, the relatable moments; she’s a future headliner. Imagine headlining before you’re twenty years old? Absolute scenes.
5. She has the same name as your favourite primary school teacher
Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’ Connell has the most deceptively Irish name since the norm-core ginger with the guitar, because of her Irish and Scottish descent. A fenian queen, she evokes memories of Ms. Eilish who wore the long flowery skirts and was really nice but could be extremely passive-aggressive whenever she’d sit and wait for the class to quiet down before saying anything. We hope she’s doing well.
6. Her album intro
It’s literally just her taking out her Invisalign and laughing with her brother, producer wunderkind Finneas. That’s it. If you thought she was too self-serious, her sense of humour is goofy enough to provide a light counterpoint to her portentous tunes. Speaking of Finneas…
7. The production on her album is next level
Eilish’s brother Finneas really positions himself as a producer to watch. His slick, spacey touch permeates the album, and there are sonic moments that’ll send headphone wearers into the stratosphere. The jagged vocal manipulation on “xanny” and the melancholy yearning of “ilomilo” alone… girls.
8. She’s too ridiculous to be an industry plant
A common accusation levelled at Eilish is that she’s an industry plant and that her success was meticulously planned by more calculated older men, an accusation also levelled at alt-pop girls like Clairo and Halsey. Misogyny whomst? More to the point, who isn’t an industry plant at this stage? If being picked up by labels and marketed as if they weren’t picked up at all is what it takes for young women to break into a male-dominated industry before using their clout to assert their creative independence, what about it? Even if Eilish is an industry plant, she’s more than made the most of her quick ascent, carving out a niche and winning over critics and the general public alike with good songs, genuinely weird asides and a unique dress sense. Which brings us to…
9. Her style
Eilish attended the Justin Bieber / Irish Catholic girls’ school of keeping people guessing as to whether she actually has a body at all. People scoff at her ridiculously oversized clothes, but it just goes to show that she’s a seventeen-year-old girl who dresses however she wants. Plus, some think the shapelessness of her sartorial choices might actually be a purposeful attempt to avert the male gaze, so there.
10. She carries the alt-pop torch from Lana and Lorde
The people calling Eilish edgy and fake-deep are the same ones who stan an artist who sang “I’m bored” twice in the first thirty seconds of her debut album. She may owe a lot to Lorde and Lana Del Rey, but Eilish is the definition of being more than the sum of your influences; WWAFAWDWG is more cohesive, ambitious, and well put together than Born to Die and Pure Heroine combined. Alt-pop gals have always gotten shit for their vocal affectations, Tumblr-core aesthetic, and sometimes craggy lyrics, but their influence is indelible. For this reason, Eilish is the perfect torch holder for this genre of laughed-at but relentlessly copied women in alt-pop; she embodies all of the traits, doubles down on them, and uses them in a beautiful ode to construction on collage-like compositions that belie her youth.