@wherearetheavocados

Billie Eilish is an artist, in every sense of the word. From her music to her image, everything is carefully constructed and considered. Her debut album is set for release following the success of her EP dont smile at me - a colourful showcase of her ability to convey a range of differing emotions, fusing genres and styles. It is difficult to pin her down a particular genre, as the songs differ; each is as catchy as a pop song, yet boasts the detail of something much more. By the end of 2019 I can only predict that everyone will have heard of her. 

For those who swear to hate any form of pop, she will be immediately shunned, along side other female synth pop creators: Lana Del Rey, Halsey, Lorde. However, Billie Eilish’s voice is unique - as a soprano, she sits above the standard female pop alto, something which gives her music an immediate dream-like quality, allowing her to create an atmospheric listening experience. In her live performances her voice is practically identical to the record. She moves through frequent ornamentation with incredible control, yet is not so overly polished that she loses that emotional quality. Her songs are written with her brother, Finneas O’Connell, who she makes efforts to credit, but is perhaps not recognised enough. He also produces her songs, projecting her vocals with often minimalistic production over airy harmonies and a clear pulsing beat. Coming from a dance background, despite sometimes being slow and emotional, the songs are rhythmic and fluid. Movement and visual response to the songs always seem to be a significant consideration. Music videos released for most the songs on her EP include her own dancing.

Eilish released 'dont smile at me' in December 2017 @wherearetheavocados

Towards the end of last year, she began to release singles from her first album. These were accompanied by a selection of almost disturbing visual material. Her album looks like it is going to be much darker than her EP. The first single you should see me in a crown is heavily produced, mumbling and distorted. I had lost a degree hope in the album until she released when the party's over, written once again by Finneas O’Connell. The song demonstrates the reason for her popularity – her ability to condense a genuine feeling into a single song. The feeling of walking home alone from a house party is perfectly created as she laments a failing relationship, trying to find comfort in the loneliness.

Whilst her age is discussed at length, often thrown into the first line of every article ever written about her, it is something worth appreciating. Currently she is 17, but she released the instant success, Ocean Eyes, at only 14. This puts her in a unique position, as her fans are her peers. She is the first artist I have ever listened to who is younger than me. This appears to be only beneficial, as an audience can relate to her music easily – idontwanttobeyouanymore's lyrics: “tell the mirror, what you know she’s heard before – I don’t want to be you anymore explores self-esteem issues in a simplistic way. The subjects of her songs are emotions many would have felt 3/4/5 years ago, and she replicates them with painfully accuracy.

Eilish live in 2017Justin Higuchi

Despite this, Billie Eilish expects and makes sure that she is treated like any other twenty-something in the industry. This is significant, as she commands creative control over her output. Having a brother write and produce with her makes this easier, but her most recent video for when the party's over was entirely her vision, after receiving a piece of fan art showing her crying. Complete creative control seems a startling desire for a then-16-year-old, but her vision is working, revealed in the way that she ignores advice to dress and behave a certain way from professionals, and yet continues to gain popularity. Her independence and agency is something exciting, not only for a young person in the industry, but especially for a young woman. She demonstrates that experimentation, belief and passion for your own art can allow for creative control. It is possible that she will pave the way for young artists to take more responsibility for their image and output, having given them the confidence to do so.

Vanity Fair

With the success and the way she conducts herself, her age becomes a superficial add-on, marvelled at in the face of her talent. Behind that still, is a teenager who is experiencing the things that teenagers do. This seems to be forgotten as she sings about them, making it appear as if they are not a problem for her, balanced with a successful career. However, when an interview with Vanity Fair was released, ‘Same interview, one year apart’, viewers described her as ‘tired’, ‘broken’ and urged her to take a break. There is a significant difference in the two interviews, her answers in the second interview significantly less optimistic. She reveals that she handles the pressure of fame ‘terribly’, struggling to decide if any of it is ‘worth it’, and deeming all artists in the industry ‘sad as hell’. There’s a tragedy to this undoubtedly, but coming of age is challenging, especially whilst being rigorously watched.

There is no sign of a break, as she is set to play both Reading/Leeds and Coachella this year alongside her album release. Whilst I am sure she will experience great success this year, whether it is sustainable for her remains to be seen.

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