Caleb M.S. — Staff Writer
On January 26, an 18-year-old swept the four most highly lauded awards in the music industry: Grammys for Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year. Critics and fans are divided over her successful night. The Academy clearly fell in love with Eilish this past year, as did the internet. Her song Bad Guy all but went viral last summer and dethroned Lil Nas X’s hit Old Town Road, with its 19-week run topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Most critics, ranging from professionals to armchair-Twitter analysists, take issue with Eilish’s obscenely successful evening at the Grammy Awards.
Eilish undoubtedly deserved the award for Record of the Year with Bad Guy, though she faced some staunch competition. Her laurels for Song of the Year and Best New Artist are also certainly deserved. However, her award for Album of the Year is tightly debated, and even the artist herself in an acceptance speech said she wanted Ariana Grande’s thank u, next to take the award. But, Eilish has received the award, and it is my pleasure to break down this fantastic album and dissect what makes it worthy of the attention it has gathered.
Billie Eilish embodies a new direction in contemporary pop music. The Taylor Swifts and Katy Perrys are still around, but this new era of artistry-first, visibly dark, passion-driven projects are coming into the forefront. This sentiment is seen repeated in the success of Tyler, the Creator’s IGOR over more traditional albums at the Grammy Awards and commercially. In fact, Eilish beat out Swift for Song of the Year, as the lo-fi, dark, bass-heavy, smash hit “Bad Guy,” crushed the whimsical, upbeat, light, and airy Lover.
Eilish’s breakout debut album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? Could best be described as the weird sister to Lorde’s Pure Heroine. Eilish whisper-sings over aggressive bass, backing vocals, and ambient noises ranging from pots clashing, to snippets taken from the TV show “The Office.” The result is an album which invokes equal parts terror and curiosity. The only time on the album Eilish comes out of her monotone singing range is on the hit single Bad Guy, the most aggressive track of the album both lyrically and instrumentally.
Thematically, this album certainly holds to a dark aesthetic, covering issues of drug abuse in xanny, and the human condition in all good girls go to hell, but there is no discernable storyline or concept in the project. Eilish was up against a stacked list of competitors for Album of the Year: Bon Iver, Lana Del Ray, Ariana Grande, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, H.E.R., and Vampire Weekend. Of these eight albums, four are conceptual albums with a solid flow and thematic content. Eilish’s album is absolutely coherent, but lacks the flow of the works of Grande and Del Ray. Each song on WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO is strong in its own right, but they do not build off of each other quite like Lana Del Ray’s Norman F—ing Rockwell do, or Grande’s in thank u, next.
Eilish has made a name for herself in modern music. To see where she goes from 2020 following huge critical and commercial success is the next test. Eilish does not deserve to be persecuted for her success, but a conscious consumption of her works is key. Eilish will maintain relevancy and artistic integrity by continuing to create music important to her and committing to staying above the fray of musical muck raking.
Will Listen Again
you should see me in a crown
my strange addiction
all the good girls go to hell
bury a friend
Burn it Down