Billie Eilish’s second album, “Happier Than Ever,” is coming out this July, creating the perfect opportunity to reflect on her 2019 debut album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”
Released on March 29, 2019, Eilish’s debut album broke records for its popularity and unique blend of genres. According to the Wikipedia article, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, 1.3 million copies of the album had been sold by June 2019, and she became the first female artist in the UK to chart at number one. “bad guy,” the album’s biggest hit and Eilish’s most popular song to date, has over one billion streams on Spotify.
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” contains 14 songs, each with a unique style. The producer, Eilish’s older brother Finneas O’Connell, took a distinctive approach to producing his sister’s album.
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, O’Connell explained all of the nuances and seemingly ordinary sounds he and Eilish worked into the album. The song “bury a friend” features the sound of dental equipment whirring, and the song “bad guy” features a clicking noise that comes from Australian crosswalks when the light turns green. These nuances scattered throughout the album provide an original listening experience.
The album itself is nothing short of revolutionary and breathtaking. From heartbreaking ballads like “listen before i go” and “i love you” to upbeat electro pop hits like “bad guy” and “my strange addiction,” Eilish combines many different styles and moods to create one cohesive, meaningful album.
The song that stands out above the rest is “listen before i go.” It is absolutely gut-wrenching and portrays the thought process behind someone planning on (and eventually succeeding in) taking their own life. It expresses all of the despair, guilt and hopelessness someone going through this would feel. At the end, you hear the faint sounds of an ambulance and screams, letting the listener know that whoever this person was, they have just lost their battle, an abrupt and tragic ending to the song.
Other standouts on the album include “bury a friend” and “ilomilo.” If you were to listen to the entire album in its original order, “bury a friend” would be directly above “ilomilo.” It is interesting because they almost perfectly blend into each other, with a smooth, indetectable transition.
“ilomilo” is built on hypnotic beats that create a confusing, almost trance-like setting, layered underneath beautiful vocals that convey someone desperately looking for a lost loved one. “bury a friend,” on the other hand, is much more upbeat and fun, while still being dark and mysterious. Eilish manages to make you think she is both a hostage and a hostage-taker at the same time, resulting in a confusing, yet compelling narrative.
The album itself portrays a wide array of characters and personas in just 42 minutes and 55 seconds. From a hopeless romantic and a suicidal teenager, to a hostage taker and a devilish demon, listeners go through a whirlwind of emotions.
Many fans wonder if Eilish will take a similar approach with her second album; however, “Happier Than Ever” has not been fully released (only four complete singles, a snippet of the title track and the finalized tracklist are available), making the two albums hard to compare.
On the first album, every song was titled in entirely lowercase letters, but on the second, every word is capitalized. This upcoming album has brought upon a new era for Eilish, and seeing as she has struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts before, this may be her way of displaying that she is becoming happier and more confident, as evidenced in the title itself, “Happier Than Ever.”
The new album’s first single, “Your Power,” has reached over 109 million streams since its release on April 29. With already half as many streams as the first single from her debut album has accumulated in three years, “Your Power” shows Eilish’s growing popularity and power.
“Your Power” is also different from any of the songs heard on her debut album. It is not quite a ballad or a sad song, but it is also definitely not a hype electro pop song. Instead, it sounds peaceful and calm, almost like Eilish being at peace with her new persona and era of her career. Centered around the idea of abusers exploiting underage girls, the song is emotional and sends an important message to impressionable teens. e
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” is characterized by its innovation in style, emotion and technique. She consistently amazes her audience with her ability to create unique sounds and convey complex emotions. With such strong originality and creativity demonstrated in the first album, fans are eager to listen to the upcoming one, especially considering the sneak peeks released so far.