We live in a world that functions by label first and asking questions later. We read Rotten Tomatoes and let it influence our opinions. We trust reviews as if they were the words spoken by a priest and not by a team of film critics.It can be hard to discern what is good from what is bad and vice versa.
In the world of music there are countless genres and yet only three that matter: the music you like, the music you think you should like and the music you pretend to like. That last genre is important because your secret obsession likes it and you need something to talk to them about it; and very few are able to cover all three.
Billie Eilish’s new album “WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO” breaks all the typical rules of genre-conforming music. Eilish’s music aims to be uncategorizable, so much so that several reviewers and avid music lovers don’t really know what to call it.
In addition to her more unique overall style, Eilish’s goal with her music is to make each song have a different sound and vibe to it.
Many are deterred by Eilish by both her brand and odd instrumental and lyrical choices, however, discounting her for that would be just as bad as calling her melodramatic simply because she is still a teenager.
One staple of Eilish’s music is her use of various eerie and ethereal noises as well as the occasional distant screaming that rivals the Wilhelm scream. This gives the album the feel as if it was recorded in a room in the Shining and she just placed a Do Not Disturb sign outside door 237 to get enough peace of mind to finish.
While Eilish recorded this entire album at the mere age of 17, her music is mature for her age. Offering songs with substance that are also great for studying, walking at high speeds or driving at night reflecting deeply on your life. The album opens with a song that is just a 14-second recording of her taking out her Invisalign, and if that doesn’t say “I’m ready, come at me,” the way you would in a steel cage match I don’t know what does.
Some of the strongest songs on the album including "bad guy," "you should see me in a crown" and "all the good girls go to hell." They all have a very strong feminist theme combined with a great beat. These songs provide an ideal soundtrack for slow motion walking away from an imaginary explosion or acting like you are driving a sports car after committing a crime when in actuality you are driving your parents Honda Civic to the grocery store.
Eilish’s other great passion are her music videos where she makes some of your greatest nightmares come to life and are as unique as her music. In an interview with NPR Eilish actually admitted to liking the idea of glorifying other people’s biggest fears in an attempt to make something that forces you to jump a little bit. Eilish does this by allowing a live tarantula to crawl in and out of her mouth in her music video for "you should see me in a crown" and filling her eyes with black liquid to cry black tears in her video for "when the party’s over."
The raw and personal way in which she writes and performs songs is similar to that of Lorde’s "Melodrama album or even Marina’s newer music. It is the kind of music that has a distant longing and nostalgia for something already gone that everyone except a very sheltered robot would be able to relate to in some form or another.
Her being and aesthetic are the complete culmination of Tumblr culture from many years, right down to the completely capitalized title of the album and the lower-case song titles. If you haven’t listened to her music you will more than likely find a song that is slightly addicting to listen to and if you don’t you might have to do some difficult self-reflecting about your musical tastes in the mirror.
While “WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO” is a very good album, it is only Eilish’s debut into the mainstream music world. She is still just starting out and it will be really interesting to see what music she puts out in the further when she solidifies what she wants her brand and her voice to be.
Spencer Brown is a staff writer.