Billie Eilish: Happier and Better than Ever


Brooke J. Freundschuh, Managing Editor

Whether or not you’re a fan, you’ve probably heard the name Billie Eilish. This American musician rose to fame at only 16 years of age, and has taken modern music by storm ever since.

She has been no stranger to controversy preceding this album cycle. She recently was a topic of discussion amongst the LGBTQIA+ community, when her video for single “Lost Cause” was released. Many felt that the video, which features Eilish and friends at a sleepover, twerking and playing twister, was misleading and offensive, considering that Eilish is straight.

Even I was skeptical about her new release after only hearing the singles released prior to the full record, but my opinion drastically changed after I dove into the project.

I’m a sucker for a strong opening track on a record. Albums, like all things, leave first impressions. “Getting Older” is one of these perfect openers. Instead of opening with a loud, flashy cadence, Eilish is singing quietly to herself. She doesn’t rely on the first few seconds of the album to gain the world’s attention. She has already earned it. The world will listen whether she screams or whispers.

“I’m getting older,” she opens, softly. 

The public came to know Eilish and her music when she was still underage. Now, at almost twenty, the struggles of the last two years have harshly embraced her the same as everyone else, only new-found fame has been thrown into the mix for her as well.

“Things I once enjoyed just keep me employed now,” she sings.

This is a track full of relatable flaws and brutal truth and centers around growing through trauma. It is reflective and confessional, with lines like “wasn’t my decision to be abused” haunting the background vocals, yet in all the darkness and weird uncertainty, she states “I’m happier than ever, at least that’s my endeavor.”

She ends the song and opens the album with the line, “I’ve had some trauma. Did things I didn’t want to. Was too afraid to tell you, but now I think it’s time.” 

“I Didn’t Change My Number” is an anthem for cutting off toxicity and knowing one’s own worth. A key factor in this track is Billie mentioning her assistant Laura and friend Drew’s disapproval for this toxic ex-partner. This song is only the beginning of many that are seemingly focused on this track’s subject.

When the tracklist for “Happier Than Ever” was released, there was a lot of talk and speculation online for what to expect from the track “Billie Bossa Nova.” I half expected it to be something similar to the spoken ending of “bad guy.” I couldn’t have been more wrong, but this was exactly what the boss herself had planned. Instead of a boastful, hype-filled track, the name is only an alias for a song about…well, aliases. Eilish tells of clandestine meetings with a lover in hotels, using fake names to hide from the crowds and deceive the press, just as she does her fans with the misleading title.

Every generation of young people, young women especially, have a female pop icon that they look up to. Mine was Taylor Swift. Before Swift, it was Britney Spears. Eilish has all the potential to be pop music’s heroine of the next decade, and songs like “my future,” make me thankful that she is the voice breaking through. 

On this track, Eilish reflects on past, present and future visions of herself, and proclaims the wholeness of her individuality. 

“I know I’m supposed to be unhappy without someone, but aren’t I someone?” She asks.

FINNEAS’s production talent is on full display in tracks “Oxytocin” and “GOLDWING.” 

“Oxytocin,” with its title naming “the love hormone” is a fun, upbeat track that has a high replayability factor. In terms of sonically pleasing tracks, it is one of my favorites on the record. “GOLDWING” is perhaps Billie’s message to her younger, innocent self as she entered the music industry. “Better keep your head down,” she repeats in a trance, as she starts revealing signs of being used and mistreated in the entertainment industry. 

“Lost Cause” tells of the same relationship discussed in “I Didn’t Change My Number.” Eilish tells of an ex with no ambition, who is stagnant in life. She craves a partner who is growing with her, which is not what she finds in this relationship. 

“I realized someone like you would always be so easy to find,” she sings. 

Eilish shows her softer side in the stunning, piano-led “Halley’s Comet.” This ethereal moment shows her comparing falling in love to something rarer than a comet that comes around every 75 years. The song shows her battle her feelings as she resists falling. It features an outro of her “sitting in her brother’s room” contemplating her thoughts. This moment is purely Billie being herself, and it is an irreplaceable cut from this record.

“Do you know me? Really know me?” Eilish opens “Not My Responsibility,” a nearly four-minute-long spoken-word interlude track addressing the public’s opinion of her. She discusses her body and the way she expresses herself through her clothing, a topic which is often openly discussed in media. As a teenager, Eilish was known for wearing baggy clothes that did not show off her figure. She was criticized and praised alike for this decision. In May 2021, she shocked the world when she posed in lingerie for British Vogue. After revealing more of herself, she was met with more backlash. In this track she discusses how she will never please everyone. Although it isn’t a song with replayability, it is an essential statement on this record, that come in as a timely reminder to her listeners half-way through the album. 

“The body I was born with, is it not what you wanted?” She asks. 

“Not My Responsibility” leads into “OverHeated,” a track about objectification and exploitation in mass media. Non-celebrities get to choose what parts of themselves are revealed on the internet. People spend hours deleting and retaking and editing photos of themselves before they are posted online, but when an individual like Eilish, is a key source for paparazzi, the images they catch of her “can’t be deleted.” 

“And everybody said it was a letdown, that I was built like everyone else now, but I didn’t get a surgery to help out. ‘Cause I’m not about to redesign my self now, am I?” She sings. 

“Everybody Dies” shows Eilish contemplating her life, both as a celebrity and someone coming of age during the Covid-19 pandemic. She contemplates her mortal life and death and the phases of life she has experienced.

The dark, heavier themes continue in “Your Power,” the third single from the record. This track details an older, male individual in a position of power taking sexual advantage of a young, underage girl, a scenario that plays out all too frequently. Recently, members of several bands and online personalities, as well as “Drake and Josh” star, Drake Bell, have faced charges for sexual contact with minors. Many young girls find that their heroes are preying on those like them, whose blind devotion allows them to be easily targeted. This is one of the best songs that Eilish has ever written, and a powerful moment on this album.

“NDA” is another ode to the lack of privacy Eilish experiences. She tells of her struggles dating, and keeping her romantic life out of the public eye by saying that when she has boys over she has to make them sign an NDA. Some of the most chilling lines include, “got a stalker walking up and down the street. Says he’s Satan, and he’d like to meet.” This track blends perfectly into her single, “Therefore I Am,” which details her struggle with the press claiming to know her and their association of others with her through dating rumors. These tracks are witty and fun, but brutally honest all at once. 

Title track, “Happier than Ever,” is a masterpiece, beginning with a soft ukelele introduction, that is reminiscent of Eilish’s early work, but turns into an explosive tell-all about her previous relationship with a substance abuser. It’s angry and raw and a moment of empowerment for Eilish, who has silenced her voice on the relationship for so long, whether it be to protect her ex or to protect her own privacy. 

“Never paid any mind to my mother or friends, so I shut them all out for you, ‘cause I was a kid,” Eilish sings regretfully. 

This track closes out the album, not in a way that neatly ties everything together, but like a car crash that she survives, barely. 

The aftermath is tied together in the closing track, “Male Fantasy,” a vulnerable, therapeutic track that lists Eilish’s thought process post-break up. She challenges the impact the pornography industry has on body image, and discusses intrusive thoughts. Overall, she ends the album the same way she started it: by processing the woes of getting older.

“Happier Than Ever” is a modern masterpiece, and I already predict that it will sweep the floor with every award show for the next year.