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Morbid Fascination: How Billie Eilish Put Us Under Her Spell

Friday, 08 March 2019 Written by Helen Payne

Billie Eilish is everywhere at the moment. Armed with bewilderingly catchy pop hooks and a distinctly magnetic voice, the American artist is a force to be reckoned with.

She’s garnered hundreds of millions of plays on streaming services and is at the top of her game. That she’s also booked a massive world tour off the back of just one EP and a handful of singles speaks volumes. We’re half expecting doomsday-style chaos when her debut album, ‘'When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?', finally drops at the end of the month.

So what exactly is it about Eilish that makes her so appealing? We break down some key features in an attempt to find out.


Let’s start with that voice. Her first single Ocean Eyes arrived in 2016, debuting quite the pipes, while still managing to convey a soft and delicate personality. The track reaches impeccable highs and toys with glissando in the chorus, forging an angelic and airy first foray into the music world. Elsewhere, she almost raps her verses, spitting out cutting remarks with disdain akin to that given to something stuck on the bottom of her trainers.


Contrast the above with the voice manipulation on her more recent tracks and things get mighty interesting. While she’s more than capable of holding her own, Eililsh enlists the help of a hefty amount of autotune, which for many artists has become more of a stylistic choice than a necessity to combat off-key warbles. Using this synthetic tone on singles Bury A Friend and When I Was Older creates a disjointed atmosphere separating the real her from the dark character she’s created and a polarity between the nursery-rhyme-esque sing-song melody Bury A Friend lies on.


Eilish doesn’t fit into a box. She understands that pop doesn’t mean you get a free pass to produce vapid, radio-friendly fodder. She’s harking back to the days when the genre’s boundaries blurred - not black and white, but more changing shades of grey. It’s earned her a dizzying number of fans.

Alongside your traditional catchy chorus, she delves into EDM, trap, hip hop, and even turns her hand to the occasional piano ballad to win over the romantics. Though Eilish draws inspiration from all of these worlds, she’s adept at making them her own. This plethora of influence allows her to pander to our increasingly wavering attention spans. She mixes it up. A lot.

While each song released is distinct with its own universe—Lovely, a collaboration with Khalid, could be a lamenting Lana Del Rey song. You Should See Me In A Crown is full on trendy trap. Banger Bellyache slides into radio-friendly chart territory, and something similar to the harmonies of Little Mix lands on Idontwannabeyouanymore — they all fall under the same umbrella: they all sound Billie.


Eilish is a unique story teller, and her subject matter is dark. Like, really dark. Although most of her songs are written collaboratively with her brother, Finneas O’Connell (as well as performing in his sister’s backing band, he’s also a solo artist in his own right and an actor — remember Alistair in Glee?), a particular character has made its way into the first person narrative of the lyrics. One that’s terrifying, sinister and downright disturbing. You’ve seen it. You get it. She’s got a morbid fascination vibe running rampant, and we are on board.

Some personal favourites come on Bellyache (“My friends aren't far / In the back of my car / Lay their bodies”) and My Boy (“My boy loves his friends / Like I love my split ends / And by that I mean / He cuts 'em off”. Excellent). She’s sort of endearing in the same way as Penn Badgley’s character is in the recent Netflix series You. Creepy as hell, but also witty and intelligent. Sometimes, it’s the chilling simplicity that hits hardest: “I wanna end me.”


It takes some artists years to cultivate a distinctive aesthetic, but Eilish has nailed it with the horror-inspired style right off the bat. The cover for her upcoming album features her with whited out eyes and a manic smile, though it’s the vocalist’s videos for the singles in the lead up to its release where the theme really runs away with itself. The creep factor has been dialed up to 11.

Bury A Friend is a heebie-jeebies-inducing three and a half minute “wtf!?” fest set in a haunted house-come-asylum type residence that plays host to some macabre moments — Eilish being stabbed in the back with 10 syringes and hanging in the air like Regan in The Exorcist.

When The Party’s Over is more intimate but arguably the hardest hitting — with a poignant image of a thick, black liquid gushing from the singer’s eyes. Emotional to the point of disturbing, the morbid fascination continues and is infectious. Deep down we’ve all got a perverse desire to be spooked the hell out of.

The combination of her ridiculously catchy songs, refusal to conform to a single genre, and already honed persona is what makes Billie Eilish so exciting. And this is just the beginning. At just 17, she’s still got the rest of her career to look forward to, and hopefully a mountain of potential still yet to be explored.

'When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?' is due out on March 29 via Polydor.

Billie Eilish Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Wed April 24 2019 - AUCKLAND Spark Arena
Tue April 30 2019 - SYDNEY Hordern Pavilion
Fri May 03 2019 - MELBOURNE Margaret Court Arena
Tue May 07 2019 - BRISBANE Eatons Hill Hotel and Function Centre
Wed May 08 2019 - BRISBANE Eatons Hill Hotel
Fri May 10 2019 - PERTH Fremantle Arts Centre

Wed May 29 2019 - SAN FRANCISCO California - Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (USA)
Fri May 31 2019 - PORTLAND Oregon - Moda Center at the Rose Quarter (USA)
Sat June 01 2019 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - PNE Amphitheatre (Canada)
Sun June 02 2019 - REDMOND Washington - Marymoor Park (USA)
Tue June 04 2019 - MAGNA Utah - Great Saltair (USA)
Wed June 05 2019 - MORRISON Colorado - Red Rocks Amphitheatre (USA)
Fri June 07 2019 - INDEPENDENCE Missouri - Silverstein Eye Centers Arena (USA)
Sat June 08 2019 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - Armory Minneapolis (USA)
Sun June 09 2019 - CHICAGO Illinois - Aragon Ballroom (USA)
Tue June 11 2019 - TORONTO - Budweiser Stage Toronto (Canada)
Wed June 12 2019 - LAVAL Quebec - Place Bell (Canada)
Fri June 14 2019 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion (USA)
Sat June 15 2019 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Met - Philadelphia (USA)
Tue June 18 2019 - NEW YORK New York - Rooftop at Pier 17 (USA)
Wed June 19 2019 - NEW YORK New York - Radio City Music Hall (USA)
Thu June 20 2019 - WASHINGTON District of Columbia - Anthem (USA)
Fri June 21 2019 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Ascend Amphitheater (USA)
Sun June 23 2019 - ATLANTA Georgia - Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park (USA)
Tue July 09 2019 - LOS ANGELES California - Shrine Expo Hall (USA)
Wed July 10 2019 - LOS ANGELES California - Shrine Expo Hall (USA)
Thu July 11 2019 - LOS ANGELES California - Greek Theatre Los Angeles (USA)
Sat July 13 2019 - SAN DIEGO California - Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre at SDSU (USA)

Sat March 09 2019 - BARCELONA La 2 de Apolo (Spain)
Tue August 20 2019 - PRAGUE Forum Karlin (Czech Republic)
Tue August 27 2019 - MOSCOW Adrenaline Stadium (Russia)
Wed August 28 2019 - ST PETERSBURG A2 Club (Russia)
Sat August 31 2019 - MILAN Milano Rocks (Italy)
Mon September 02 2019 - BARCELONA Poble Espanyol (Spain)
Tue September 03 2019 - MADRID WiZink Center (Spain)
Wed September 04 2019 - LISBON Coliseum (Portugal)

Click here to compare & buy Billie Eilish Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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