Hello darkness, my old friend; Billie Eilish is here again. It’s been over two years since Billie’s darkly comedic tone, blended with modern gothic vulnerability, made ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ one of 2019’s biggest albums and turned Billie into a global phenomenon. But that fame comes with a heavy price and her second record, ‘Happier Than Ever’, sees her grapple with trauma, the relentlessness of the music industry and a complete lack of privacy. Strap in for Billie’s 10 darkest lyrics on ‘Happier Than Ever’.
“Had a pretty boy over, but he couldn’t stay / On his way out, made him sign an NDA”Billie Eilish, ‘NDA’
On a track that covers a Satanic stalker and Billie’s inability to leave her house, it’s the image of her taking a boy back, only to have him sign an NDA, that lingers – a nineteen-year-old constantly afraid that intimacy may have repercussions.
“They’re gonna tell you what you wanna hear / Then they’re gonna disappear / Gonna claim you like a souvenir / Just to sell you in a year”Billie Eilish, ‘GOLDWING’
‘GOLDWING’ is a belated warning to Billie’s younger self about the dangers of sycophants and vultures hiding in the music industry. Moving from heavenly vocals to a more characteristically unsettling beat, Billie mourns the loss of innocence she felt in the wake of her rise to fame.
“Other people wouldn’t stay / Other people don’t obey / You and me are both the same / You should really run away”Billie Eilish, ‘Oxytocin’
‘Oxytocin’ might be the love hormone but affection isn’t the order of the day here. As a self-professed bad guy, Billie drawls of ungodly deeds and using her partner purely for oxytocin. “You should really run away” she shouts over the heavy, eerie bass – can’t say she never warned you.
“the strangers seem to want me more / Than anyone before / Too bad they’re usually deranged”Billie Eilish, ‘Getting Older’
Musically unassuming, the opening track of ‘Happier Than Ever’ immediately sets the tone of the album – a little existential, a little mournful, and fully grappling with trauma. In the first of many nods to Billie’s stalker, ‘Getting Older’ is a look at her disillusionment with music and when being desired becomes undesirable.
5‘Not My Responsibility‘
“The body I was born with / Is it not what you wanted?”Billie Eilish, ‘Not My Responsibility’
‘Not My Responsibility’, which first debuted on her 2020 world tour, is a statement on body image and self-worth that Billie should never have had to make. Her trademark baggy style, that was deliberately designed for comfort and to ensure she wasn’t objectified, somehow became a double-edged sword: “If I wear what is comfortable, I am not a woman / If I shed my layers, I’m a slut”. This spoken word track is Billie absolving herself of responsibility for others’ scrutiny of her body.
“You wanna kill me? / You wanna hurt me?”Billie Eilish, ‘OverHeated’
As celebrity culture finally re-examines its role in endangering Britney Spears, ‘OverHeated’ reflects Billie’s feelings on the objectification of the paparazzi, twenty years on, and when that obsessive consumption becomes explicitly dangerous and harmful.
“You oughta know / That even when it’s time, you might not wanna go”Billie Eilish, ‘Everybody Dies’
The inevitability of your own mortality is always a pleasant thought to randomly enter your mind while you’re buttering a slice of toast, but it usually comes with the consolation that we’ll accept it when our time comes. There’s no such respite here as Billie wonders if you can ever truly be ready: “I just wonder why you’d wanna stay / If everybody goes / You’d still be alone”. Oof.
“She was sleepin’ in your clothes / But now she’s got to get to class”Billie Eilish, ‘Your Power’
Album standout ‘Your Power’ is often hard to listen to as Billie reflects on the abuse she has been subjected to in personal and professional relationships. She wonders if abusers even feel remorse until they suffer repercussions themselves and the stark imagery of a schoolgirl in a predatory relationship hits home how vulnerable she was.
9‘Happier Than Ever‘
“Never paid any mind to my mother or friends / So I shut ’em all out for you ’cause I was a kid”Billie Eilish, ‘Happier Than Ever’
Billie has described the title track as “probably the most therapeutic song” she’s ever written, reflecting back on a relationship that made her miserable. But it took her a while to get there and not before she had isolated herself from friends and family.
Billie is heartbroken and turns to porn for distraction…only she hates what she finds. ‘Male Fantasy’ is, in part, her attempt to find her identity again post-breakup but it also looks at the systemic problems with depictions of women in pornography and how the two cross paths.