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Released: 2017

“Bellyache” by Billie Eilish is a twisted fairytale of a song, diving deep into the psyche of a young and regretful wrongdoer. It’s a melodious, haunting confession of heinous actions, encapsulating the youthful desire for revolt and the aftermath of guilt.

In the opening lines, Eilish paints an eerie picture of solitude with “Sittin’ all alone, mouth full of gum in the driveway”. She’s outside, alone, attempting to exude nonchalance, as she points to an unthinkable reveal, “In the back of my car, lay their bodies.” The ‘bodies’ in the backseat of her car could metaphorically represent the emotional burdens she’s carrying, or more literally, hint at a sinister act she has committed. This has her questioning “Where’s my mind?”, suggesting she’s struggling to grasp her own actions.

The chorus line “Maybe it’s in the gutter, where I left my lover” serves a dual purpose. It paints a vivid picture of abandonment and represents the high price she’s had to pay for her actions. The phrase “What an expensive fake” tends to imply that the identity she adopted to commit the wrongdoing was a façade, a costly one at that.

The intriguing line “My V is for Vendetta” borrows from the pop culture iconography of the movie V for Vendetta, hinting at a personal revolution or revenge that she’d hoped would liberate her. Instead, she’s left with a ‘bellyache’, a term that could symbolize the gnawing guilt and regret for the bad choices she made.

The line “The way I wear my noose like a necklace” uses powerful symbolism – equating the accessory of a necklace with a noose – signaling the grip of guilt tightens around her neck, bringing discomfort and fear as opposed to the decorative or status symbol a necklace typically signifies.

The line “I wanna make ’em scared, like I could be anywhere” underpins her desire to project herself as dangerous and omnipresent, once again highlighting her youthful rebellion. But the refrain “I lost my mind, I don’t mind,” implies a resigned acceptance of her mental state, a sort of distorted peace with her actions.

In the end, the repeated refrain “Maybe it’s in the gutter, where I left my lover… But now I got a bellyache” acts as a chilling reminder of her actions, the guilt that follows, and the psychological torment she endures as a result.

Overall, Eilish’s “Bellyache” masterfully uses metaphor and imagery to illustrate a narrative of transgression and the ensuing guilt, set against a deceptively buoyant pop melody – a lyrical paradox that truly displays Eilish’s prowess as a songwriter.

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