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Released: 2019

Label: Darkroom/Interscope Records

From the avant-garde wunderkind of pop music, Billie Eilish, comes the darkly decadent album, “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”. Released in 2019 under the Darkroom/Interscope Records label, this studio album is the epitome of an aural dreamscape, blurring the lines between the conscious and the subconscious, serenity and chaos. It features heart-thumping, bass-heavy beats interlaced with the ethereal, haunting whispers of Eilish’s unique vocal style.

The album is a testament to Eilish’s artistic prowess, teeming with a blend of eerie ballads and rebellious anthems. Tracks like “bad guy”, “xanny”, and “bury a friend” have changed the face of pop music, embracing a raw, introspective narrative that amplifies Eilish’s audacious persona. It’s a roller-coaster ride of emotions, redefining the norms of the genre through a lens of candid self-expression and emotional vulnerability.

This album has given us some of Eilish’s most iconic songs, each offering a different facet of her complex artistry. It’s narrative twists like “when the party’s over” and “i love you” that cast an indelible mark on the hearts of listeners, tapping into raw emotions with an intimacy that is both unsettling and beguiling. The album is nothing short of a paradox, embodying both the euphoria and melancholia of the human experience.

So let’s get into it. From the disruptive “!!!!!!!” to the poignant “goodbye”, here we are breaking down the album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” by Billie Eilish.

1 !!!!!!!

At a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 14 seconds, the ‘song’ is not so much a musical composition as it is a playful dissection of the album-making process. Gathering the essence in the nonchalant declaration, “I have taken out my Invisalign, and this is the album,” Billie sets the album’s tone, immediately signalling that this is not your run-of-the-mill pop project. It’s a real-life, laid bare approach to her craft, even going as far to include the audible sounds of Invisalign removal and her hearty laughter. In an industry that often takes itself too seriously, Eilish’s distilled honesty and unassuming introduction remind us that behind the pop juggernaut, there’s a just a normal teenager seeing the humour in it all.

2 bad guy

Tapping into a raw vein of adolescent self-assertion, she proclaims, “I’m the bad type/Make your mama sad type/Make your girlfriend mad tight/Might seduce your dad type”. Through these lyrics, Eilish redefines femininity and villainy in her own refreshing terms, subverting conventional narratives with her own gleefully rebellious stance. Seductive and confounding, Eilish takes her bad girl persona, running with it, and bending it to her will. A moment of compounded irony strikes when she discloses, “But maybe it’s ’cause I’m wearing your cologne/I’m a bad guy”. Here, she assumes a position of control, the power balance switching with her donning the scent of her lover; she pursues her desires on her terms. “bad guy” signals a turning point in Eilish’s narrative, an unabashed embracing of the darker side.

3 xanny

Through her provocative lyrics, “What is it about them? / I must be missing something / They just keep doing nothing / Too intoxicated to be scared”, she boldly declines to join her peers’ substance-induced haze, casting a clear-eyed gaze upon the consequences of a Xanax-infused lifestyle. The lyrical depth reaches its zenith in the line, “I can’t afford to love someone / Who isn’t dying by mistake in Silver Lake”, exuding Eilish’s deep-rooted frustration with self-destructive behavior masked as youthful rebellion. Her edgy-lyrical storytelling cuts through the noise, procuring a quiet, introspective space within a genre that often glamorizes substance abuse.

4 you should see me in a crown

A standout is her calculated declaration, “I’m gonna run this nothing town,” showcasing her determination to ascend to the throne, irrespective of the desolation she rules. The way she savors the silence of her subjects, hinted at in “Your silence is my favorite sound”, accentuates her chilling authority. The complexity deepens as she flips the traditional notion of beauty on its head, dismissing superficial adulation with “I’m okay, I’m not your baby / If you think I’m pretty”. But beyond all, Eilish’s metaphor of motifs surrounding death, as seen in “Sleeping inside a hearse / (I don’t dream)”, paints a provocative image of relinquishing fear and embracing the darkness that comes with power.

5 all the good girls go to hell

It’s a hellfire and brimstone critique of blind faith and climate change, with lyrics that strike like venomous barbs. The query, “Peter should know better” echoes the disillusionment with religious authorities, while “Hills burn in California” a chilling nod to the apocalyptic devastation caused by unchecked environmental damage. The provocative line, “All the good girls go to hell, ‘Cause even God herself has enemies” flips conventional theology on its head while giving a nod to gender equality. The sharp juxtaposition of heavenly imagery with earthly disasters encases a biting critique in an accessible pop package. Billie truly defines her generation’s angst with an unexpected twist on pop lyricism.

6 wish you were gay

It’s a heady exploration into the psyche of unrequited love, a tale told from the perspective of aching longing. Eilish draws us into her vulnerability with the lyric, “Baby, I don’t feel so good”, six words you never understood—a direct channel to her internal turmoil. The clever countdown that Eilish incorporates through the song serves as a poignant passage of time, building up to the crux; “I just wanna make you feel okay / But all you do is look the other way… I just kinda wish you were gay”. It’s a line that hits hard as it piques into the desperate need for validation, confusing the singer’s wish for acceptance with a desire to rationalize rejection. It says less about sexuality and more about young love’s bewildering complexity.

7 when the party’s over

Billie Eilish captures the pain of unrequited love and loss with such eloquence that it’s nothing short of heart-wrenching. One piercing verse demonstrates this beautifully: “Tore my shirt to stop you bleeding / But nothin’ ever stops you leaving.” Here, Eilish pinpoints the futile struggle of trying to keep a failing relationship alive. As the song progresses, she surrenders to the solitude with a resigned acceptance, “Quiet when I’m coming home / And I’m on my own.” Yet, the pain persists with her admitting, “I could lie, say I like it like that, like it like that.” The lyrical landscape of “when the party’s over” is a testament to Eilish’s knack for exploring complex emotions with stunning simplicity.

8 8

A standout line that smacks you right in the heart is “Who am I to be in love when your love never is for me?” — illustrating the anguished oscillation between self-doubt and longing in her haunting refrain. The lyrics reveals a tale of unnoticed affection, overcommitment, and love unreciprocated, sewn into a melancholic tapestry of da-da-da’s, almost mocking the frivolity of adolescent heartache. “You’re looking at me like I’m see-through,” Eilish laments, showcasing her poignant lyricism that uncannily captures the pangs of youthful despair. “8” is an admission of defeat, a quiet surrender to the incompatibility of feelings, yet a valiant testament to Eilish’s raw emotive power.

9 my strange addiction

The lyrics read like missives from a toxic relationship. She sings, “Bad, bad news, One of us is gonna lose, I’m the powder, you’re the fuse, just add some friction.” Exploring the volatile chemistry of love, Eilish hints at the hurt the relationship inflicts, and yet, she’s irresistibly pulled towards it, almost like an addiction. Furthermore, she conjures images of self-destruction, inviting listeners to share her vulnerability with the lines, “Bite my glass, set myself on fire, Can’t you tell I’m crass? Can’t you tell I’m wired?” Billie brilliantly fuses metaphor with an underplayed rawness that compels listeners to resonate with her strange addiction.

10 bury a friend

The song thrives on the tension between its hauntingly dark lyrics and Eilish’s ethereal vocals. Asking, “What do you want from me? Why don’t you run from me?”, she probes the unsettling intersection of fear and attraction, unmasking the dread of the familiar. “When we all fall asleep, where do we go?” she asks, evoking a deep-seated existential angst, building a chilling depiction of the uncertainty and the unknown. Yet, amidst the eeriness, there’s a vulnerability encapsulated by the lines, “Step on the glass, staple your tongue… Bury a friend, I wanna end me.” In this exceptional blend of the macabre and the melancholic, Eilish invigorates pop music, taking it beyond its comfort zone of sunshine and saccharine. Continuous repetition of the line “I wanna end me” leaves listeners grappling with the uncomfortable reality of internal struggle, a bold move for an industry unwilling to grapple with the gritty realities of mental health.

11 ilomilo

Billie navigates the mania of worrying, etching out a significant line like, “The world’s a little blurry, Or maybe it’s my eyes, The friends I’ve had to bury, They keep me up at night,” which puts a magnifying glass on the terror of losing someone. Eilish, through her verses, builds a chilling rendition of vulnerability and preoccupation with it being, “cold, And I don’t wanna be lonely.” With a narrower lens, her lyric “If you’re gonna die, not by mistake,” is a powerful confession of her need to protect the ones she values. This track reinforces the overarching thematic knots of existential dread spread across the ‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’ album.

12 listen before i go

The desperate plea, “Take me to the rooftop, I wanna see the world when I stop breathing,” is a chilling invocation that immediately pulls you into her vulnerable landscape. This isn’t a song about pretenses or avoidance, every word echoes with stark honesty. “Tell me, love is endless, don’t be so pretentious” is her defense against hollow platitudes, as she gives a harrowing countdown to her own departure – “Better hurry, ‘Cause I’m leaving soon”. In the haunting refrain of “Sorry, can’t save me now… Sorry, there’s no way out… but down”, Eilish deftly captures the stark desperation and self-reckoning that often accompanies profound struggle. In essence, this ethereal track is an ode to the dark corners of the human soul.

13 i love you

The lines “You didn’t mean to say ‘I love you’/ I love you and I don’t want to” capture the crux of the song perfectly. Billie Eilish, our Gen-Z generational voice, is exploring a gut-wrenching paradox of feeling in love when it’s unwanted, broaching the conversational stigma of one-sided love. But it’s “We fall apart as it gets dark/ I’m in your arms in Central Park/ There’s nothing you could do or say/ I can’t escape the way, I love you” that really floors us. Eilish’s masterful juxtaposition of a romantic setting with the agonizing acceptance of a love she wishes to escape reveals a precocious emotional depth that echoes well beyond her years.

14 goodbye

Billie Eilish’s “goodbye” slams us with an echo chamber of her torment, as if lifting the veil on a twisted farewell note. “Take me to the rooftop” she pleads, all but painting a dark vignette of despair and alienation. It’s a chilling moment, visceral in its raw human emotions, and one that lays the groundwork for the rest of the song. The repeated line, “What do you want from me?” seethes with frustration, a cry against the pressures of fame and societal expectations. Her own self-awareness cuts through as she confesses, “Don’t you know I’m no good for you?” and “I’m the bad guy”, revealing a profound self-deprecation that dances with her eternal label of the antagonist. She hits us with, “And all the good girls go to hell”, a cynical commentary which captures her disillusionment with the age-old dichotomy between morality and reality. The lyrics of “goodbye” are a gradation of entangled emotions – resignation, defiance, regret and a lingering sense of unease.

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