Billie Eilish dominates charts with “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”


Photo courtesy of Billie Eilish

Julia Merron

On Friday, March 29, Billie Eilish released her first studio album,“WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” after breaking the record for most pre-added album on Apple Music. In her debut album, Eilish reveals an expression of her experiences as a teen and simultaneous music prodigy through a creative, in-depth exploration of the mind’s adventures at night.

From the very beginning, it is clear that this is not your average chart-topping pop record. In the first track, “!!!!!!!,” Eilish takes up 13 seconds conducting ASMR-esque sounds while taking out her Invisalign, introducing the album and proceeding to cackle maniacally with her brother, producer and co-writer, Finneas O’Connell.

Photo courtesy of The Fader

All of the songs contain aspects of production that create a cinematic essence in their own way, including audible responses from an unknown audience in “wish you were gay,” clips from an episode of “The Office” in “my strange addiction” and background sounds of sirens and rainfall in “listen before i go.” The final song on the tracklist, “goodbye,” consists of one line from each song and therefore seems to mimic a cast bowing at the end of a performance, adding to the theatrical feel of the album. The siblings’ alternative approach to the presentation of their music greatly appealed to me and truly surpassed my expectations of a traditional album design.

According to Eilish, the songs are meant to be different from each other, but some sounded similar with a repeated use of heavy bass and electronic video game-like music effects in songs such as “bad guy,” “you should see me in a crown,” “all the good girls go to hell” and “my strange addiction.” Although each song is still intricate and unique, my first experience listening to them was unsatisfying with a lack of a more diverse style. Additionally, uncomfortable whispers and mechanically distorted tunes dispersed throughout the album disturbed an otherwise cohesive sound.

Photo courtesy of Instagram

Eilish also incorporates many different aspects of the unconscious state, covering sleep paralysis, good dreams, wishes, night terrors and even intoxication. Along with the cinematic quality, the integration of a theme greatly impressed me as an immersive experience rather than a straightforward compilation of multiple songs. This is emphasized by Eilish’s enjoyable displays of her own personality throughout the album, as she gleefully hums, speaks and laughs in the background of some of the tracks. Hearing the artist amusingly play with her own work created a sort of intimacy and made listening much more entertaining.

In an interview with Zane Lowe, O’Connell pointed out that Eilish is expressing her first moments loving, mourning and learning as a teenager, which easily relates to her largely teenage fan base going through the same thing. The album speaks to different experiences of adolescent life in each song. Some resonated more deeply with me based on my own life experiences, and some I just thought were fun to listen to, making my personal favorites “bad guy,” “xanny,” “all the good girls go to hell,” “my strange addiction” and “ilomilo.”

Simply put, this album is a true piece of artwork. As with all art, and as Eilish herself has stated, the meaning and purpose are completely up to the listener’s interpretation. The overall sound definitely goes against the traditional normalities of pop music and may be downright unpleasant to someone looking for familiar, lighthearted melodies and lyrics, but I highly recommend this album as a thought-provoking alternative production.