Billie Eilish: The Perpetuation of Sonic Monotony

A leech on an already dying industry.

Billie Eilish at Icebox.

Photo taken by Icebox.

Billie Eilish at Icebox.

The music industry is a Wild West-like landscape full of equal parts up-and-coming artists and dying artists. In 2019, this landscape is harsher than ever. With the advent of services like Soundcloud and Spotify, it has been easier than ever before to let the world be known of what you can do with your musical ability. This has led to the rise of artists like XXXTENTACION and, perhaps miraculously, a Los Angeles-born singer/songwriter named Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell, known professionally as Billie Eilish.

Eilish is known for style of whisper-singing in her songs. Her lyrics also are notoriously introspective, some have even went as far as to call them genius. I would like to disagree. I’d like to raise some points as to why Billie Eilish may not only be a uncreative and lackluster musician, but may be a leech spreading a disease to the entire music industry.

In her song, idontwannabeyouanymore, from her first EP dont smile at me (2017), we start to see a problem here. Her lyrics, while they can be clever at times, often just don’t make any sense. A couplet from the chorus of idontwannabeyouanymore reads as follows: “If teardrops could be bottled/there’d be swimming pools filled by models.” What does this mean, exactly? I can tell it’s obviously an attempt at some kind of social commentary, saying that models are sad and that the amount of tears they create could fill multiple swimming pools, but only if they can be bottled? Last time I checked, tears were liquid and fairly easy to put inside a bottle. Maybe it’s a metaphor that I’m missing, or perhaps I’m just not cool enough to understand the genius of Eilish’s “poetry.”

Moving on to her first full length studio album, WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? (2019), the second track is titled bad guy, and it’s… uninteresting, to say the least. The song is 3 minutes and 15 seconds of whispering from Eilish and beats from a drum machine, accompanied by the same bass line that repeats for nearly the entire song. Only after the bridge does another instrument appear, a synth that plays the bass line a few octaves higher. When am I supposed to listen to this song? This isn’t the kind of song that can play at a club and get people to dance, nor is it a song that one could listen to while doing homework or jogging. It’s too quiet to hear while out on the town, but I can’t listen to it while doing schoolwork because it makes me want to fall asleep. When I fall asleep listening to Billie Eilish, where do I go? To another album, probably.

Some people are quick to dismiss these problems by mentioning her young age, barely 19. I don’t think that excuses anything, as her brother writes the bulk of her songs for her, and she has a crew of many, many people who mix and release her songs for her. Does not one person at her label listen to her music and think, “Why exactly did we sign this person on?” Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but I prefer the term “passionate.” I’m worried that this trend of simple bass loops and uncreative lyrics will spread to more and more artists, and that music will just become noise. I’m all for starting your own brand at such a young age, but maybe Billie Eilish isn’t ready for the limelight just yet.