Musical prodigy Billie Eilish was chosen as Apple’s “Up Next” artist at the age of 15, after releasing her debut EP “dont smile at me.” The album features songs ranging from hip-hop to R&B. All of the songs do a phenomenal job at highlighting Eilish’s outstanding vocals, and are accompanied by beautiful and catchy lyrics.
Eilish is also a dancer, which sparked her interest in writing music. She wanted to write songs that fit her choreographies. Her first breakthrough in the music industry stemmed from a song called “Ocean Eyes” which she posted on SoundCloud for her fellow dance peers when she was 13. The song went viral overnight. “Ocean Eyes” is now featured on her EP, and has mustered up over 20 million streams on Spotify.
Eilish writes songs with her brother, Finneas. Each one of their pieces tells a story – some personal, and some not. For example, “My Boy” is about an actual ex-boyfriend of Billie’s, and how he mistreated her. On the other hand, songs such as “Bellyache” are fictional. According to her interview with Ladygunn, “Bellyache” is “flat-out a song about murder … We like to write about stuff we’re going through and things that people relate to, but it’s also really fun to put on a character and act a certain way.” The duo tell the tale of a girl who murders all of her friends, and is running from the authorities, with gorgeous lyrics and visuals. Perhaps it’s Billie and Finneas’ unique take on writing lyrics that brings the appeal to Eilish’s music.
However, it could also be a result of Eilish’s absolutely stunning vocals. Her voice has been compared to Melanie Martinez and Lana del Ray, but fans quickly shut this down, saying she has her own remarkable sound. Eilish portrays emotions in her words, manipulating lyrics with her gentle, swaying voice. In songs like “COPYCAT” we feel the irritable anger of somebody stealing who you are. In “Hostage” we feel her inner conflict.
Her angelic vocals are complemented by the various styles of music throughout the EP. Eilish says she hates the idea of genres, and feels it’s unnecessary to categorize music. This explains the abundance of music styles in “dont smile at me.” Titles such as “Party Favor” utilize more up-beat tunes with the enhancing ukulele melody. On the other hand, “i dont wanna be you anymore” brings deeper, cooler tones to her discography.
Almost anybody can find a tune that they’ll fall in love with. The inconsistency in music styles in “dont smile at me” builds upon Billie’s unique authenticity. She refuses to be defined by just one word.
“dont smile at me” is only the beginning for the endlessly talented Billie Eilish, who already is working on new music. Clear out about 30 minutes of your day to listen to this groundbreaking, phenomenal EP. You’ll catch yourself breaking the one rule, while having a permanently stitched smile on your face.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.