Billie Eilish Might Not Sound 'Happier Than Ever,' but She Is — You Have to Trust Her
Published Aug 04, 2021Believe it or not, Billie Eilish is the happiest she's ever been, or at least that's what she's claiming on her latest studio album, Happier Than Ever. But it's not your typical upbeat pop album — instead, it's more reflective and subdued. Through it all, it stays true to the young artist that took over pop music in only a few short years.
Over the years, Eilish has grown from an apprehensive adolescent to a remarkably assured global sensation. At only 19, she's performed for millions, collected multiple Grammy awards and undergone noticeable physical and mental transformations, conveniently documented by Vanity Fair in their annual interviews with the singer.
But all the fame comes with its pitfalls — and Eilish finds peace in dealing with them, as tough as they may be. In opening track "Getting Older," she plainly explores the pitfalls of fame: "Things I once enjoyed / Just keep me employed now" and "I'm gettin' older / I've got more on my shoulders / But I'm gettin' better at admitting when I'm wrong." Other matters she discusses include dating as a celebrity, which she trolls about in the hair-raising track "NDA": "Did you think I'd show up in a limousine? / No, had to save my money for security / Got a stalker walking up and down the street / Says he's Satan and he'd like to meet."
Midway through the album, Eilish slows it all the way down with cathartic spoken word number "Not My Responsibility," which first appeared in a short film during her live tour in 2020, kickstarting the major change in how she now presents herself. In the sombre, stripped-down track, she shares, "If I wear what is comfortable, I am not a woman / If I shed the layers, I'm a slut / Though you've never seen my body, you still judge it and judge me for it / Why?" The track acts as an ode of agency over her body, which has been a popular topic of discussion since Eilish entered the limelight. Another song where the singer discusses being oversexualized and taken advantage of is in the country-inspired ballad "Your Power." Uttering softly, " I thought that I was special / You made me feel / Like it was my fault / You were the devil." For some, this can be uncomfortable to hear, but ultimately her display of strength and vulnerability is her way of reclaiming happiness while offering solace to listeners facing similar issues.
Happiness may look and sound different for everyone. With Eilish, it can be confronting your trauma over a silky sensual beat or talking about secret rendezvouses on a Brazillian Bossa Nova track (the aptly titled "Billie Bossa Nova"). Although she experiments with new genres on this album and shows more maturity in her lyrics, her sound for the most part doesn't change. On Happier Than Ever, she's calmer compared to her eclectic 2019 debut, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, but with the same angsty edge. She still embraces her youth and the process of self-discovery, which she explores in "My Future": "'I'm in love with my future, can't wait to meet her / And I, I'm in love, but not with anybody else / Just wanna get to know myself." If her future is anything like the song, it's bound to be interesting. (Darkroom/Interscope)