Arts

The Rise of Billie Eilish

Photo Credit: Vox

Dominating the music world one beat at a time

Isabela Villanoy, Associate Arts Editor

The world is currently witnessing the emergence and resurgence of music styles and artistry. Artistic production through music and song-writing continue to evolve with innovative methods of creativity — from the usage of ambient city sounds to the production of catchy beats with just the sound of a cigarette lighter. Musicians and songwriters have unsettled the normative of musical storytelling by shedding light on topics concerning mental health, brokenness, and trauma with resonating word choices. It is no doubt that Billie Eilish’s music has resonated with a vast audience of various backgrounds — reinforcing the profound impact she has made on the world stage. Billie’s creatively unsettling yet provocative method of musical storytelling is changing the way music is perceived, and I myself experienced this complete paradigm shift after spending about a year with her on Spotify. 

The 18-year old Grammy award-winner Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell has carved her own path to artistic greatness from the humble beginnings of her musical career. Together with her talented brother and music partner Finneas O’Connell, Billie Eilish’s musical artistry was embedded within the confining and yet inviting space of the bedroom — a liberating space rich in musical individuation and expressive arts. In her interview with James Corden for The Late Late Show with James Corden, Billie shows this newfound appreciation for the walls and corners that witnessed her growth and listened to her heartfelt emotions. In the private sanctuary of Finneas’ bedroom where the hit album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? was born, Billie reminisces years that shaped her fearless musicality. In an interview for Vogue’s March 2020 issue, Billie reconfirms this idea by explaining how music has always been a part of her identity since her early childhood years. She states: “Music was always underlying … I always sang. It was like wearing underwear: It was just always underneath whatever else you were doing.”  

The mellow beats and soft singing whispers of her single “everything I wanted” perfectly parallels the sometimes sporadic and spontaneous moments of vulnerability and mental tension that individuals feel during peaks of success or self-doubt — an idea that Billie explores in many of her songs. She is a poet who speaks her mind — unafraid and steadfast of her own feelings. What may be considered social taboo is a subject matter that Billie dismantles and redefines through her evocative language — a language that is very much present in her song about mental health and drugs titled “xanny.” Her music videos themselves are so rich in meaning and interpretation — her gusto for relaxing voice rifts accompanied by powerful visuals are a clear reflection of her experimental imagination. The stunts she does for the music video of “you should see me in a crown” just shows the relentless powerhouse that is her creative genius — the image of a spider travelling out of her mouth stays with you for days. More than these mind-blowing performances is the underlying notion that Billie is an artist who, through her music, creates a space for all people to be undaunted by social norms, bigotry, and bias when putting their work out in the world. 

She is a nonconformist in many ways and proves such inventiveness through the style she embodies. Her neon green highlights, baggy Gucci shirts, avant-garde sunglasses, and bucket hats say more than her free spirit — it’s the important statement she’s making about body-shaming in the entertainment and music industry. It’s a style that clearly mirrors both her bold melodic whispers and her contagious youthfulness. This unabashed attitude toward creative expression becomes this practice consistent in her style, her language, and her ideas. Despite her dominance in the global music stage, Billie delves into the immediacy of her fame and the social pressures that come with it. She humbly shares in herVanity Fair 2019 interview how the fanbase she has amassed over the years is still surreal for her to take all in. In the same time capsule interview, she expresses how she never thought people would take interest in her music. The pop icon is redefining what it means to be a youth pursuing creative methods of art production that challenges age hierarchy and defies the status quo. And I cannot wait to see her do these things and more in the years to come.