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Music is the first step to growing up

Billie Eilish is the personification of growing up through music and does it perfectly imperfectly.
Isa Peters
Billie Eilish is the personification of growing up through music and does it perfectly imperfectly.

Saying you have “grown up” with certain celebrities is weird. You do not know these people yet have seen their ups and downs, awkward phases, and glow-ups. But no matter if you know them or not, it is nice to see people grow into the person they were destined to be. Child stars are fun to see learn and grow but most leave the spotlight before they hit their “big break,” unless you are Billie Eilish.

Billie Eilish broke records and adult minds when she came out with her first hit single “Ocean Eyes,” which she made at 13 years old with her brother Finneas. This song was strong for a 13-year-old, navigating the feelings of hurting someone and trying to mend the relationship. Something that is not foreign to 13-year-olds, just not something they can typically express verbally. Not for Eilish, she took this opportunity of her virality on Soundcloud to release her first EP “don’t smile at me.”

This album was beyond what a 14-year-old should release for their first EP, it navigated topics of insecurity, betrayal, wanting, and so many more feelings that teenagers are typically made fun of for. From that release point onwards songs such as “Bellyache,” “idontwannabeyouanymore,” and “COPYCAT,” were massive hits, not just on Soundcloud but across the country and eventually the world. We got to see this incredibly talented artist (and her equally talented brother) flourish into something amazing.

In between “don’t smile at me” and “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO” we saw her go through her first controversy. Baby’s first controversy. She was releasing songs such as “You Should See Me in a Crown” which were met with harsh criticism since it had spiders crawling out of her mouth and was considered “satanic” due to those reasons. But little did everyone know, this was just the beginning of her not abiding by the norm.

WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO” came out with a bang. Charting almost instantaneously with songs such as “Bury a Friend” or “Xanny”. This was Eilish’s establishment of her “rebellious teen/young adult era” but unlike Justin Beiber’s party scene or Miley Cyrus’s “wrecking ball,” she went with an actual rebellious route; basing the album on her fears. This may come as a surprise since her most-known song “Bad Guy” is a more generic song that was supposed to be accepted by the masses. But when you dissect the rest of the album you realize she’s trying to separate herself from the naive 13 to 15-year-old and now the rebellious and slightly more mature 16 to 18-year-old.

Even though WWAFAWDWG is her most recognized album, she was not in the best head space when making that album. Eilish has been incredibly vocal on mental health and vocal about her mental health. During the Gayle King Grammy Special Eilish stated “I genuinely didn’t think I would make it to 17” where she recounted her time in Berlin and fame at a young age while also grappling with thoughts of suicide. She encourages her fans constantly to not listen to the intrusive thoughts and stated “I just grab them by the shoulders and I’m like ‘Please take care of yourself and be good to yourself and be nice to yourself.”

Furthermore, in a Seize the Awkward interview she stated “You know for me, I’m trying to learn, still, that I [can] stay okay. It doesn’t make you weak to ask for help, it doesn’t.” These views are reflected in her last three songs of the album, songs that cemented the mature transition from teenager to young adult: listen before i go” “i love you” “goodbye.” She took some short breaks after the album amid immense and immediate fame, opting to deal with her mental health and not fans and fanfare. Though, she does make it a point to let her fans know how much she appreciates them.

In Eilish’s peak in 2019-2021, she was offered to be the youngest person to create a James Bond theme song: “No Time To Die.” This opportunity for her was career-changing, this was her first step into cementing herself as a mature adult artist. This would also lead her down the path of winning her first Oscar, something she would soon be accustomed to (winning another for her Barbie movie song “What Was I Made For”). It also shut down the people who said her voice was not anything special and she was not a “real artist” because she never belted or sang big notes. She proved them wrong with the climax of the song being her using her past choir experience and belting her heart out.

During the past few years, since about 2020, the public has seen Eilish go through some tough and sometimes questionable relationships. But, when someone is still learning, it is hard to tell them what they are doing wrong. You want them to experience it, but you do not want them to get hurt. Which is the role her brother FINNEAS took on. Eilish in her past two albums “Happier Than Ever” and “Hit Me Hard and Soft” has explored these relationships and their consequences.

She has been in age-gap relationships, unbalanced power dynamics, and so many more situations that most teenagers and young adults should never be put in. Also, during the relationships, she was naive towards the public’s reactions which makes sense; if you are in a relationship you do not really want people yelling at you and telling you it is wrong. In her “Happier than Ever” album though, she realizes that these relationships were taking advantage of her youth and retaliates back. Songs like “Your Power” “My Future” or the title track “Happier Than Ever” all illustrate her showing that she is not that naive rebellious girl anymore and can stand up for herself even if it’s scary.

This continues on her most recent album “Hit Me Hard and Soft,” but it is not just romantic relationships now, but also platonic. She navigates the feelings of losing friends, seeing people not live up to their potential, her body dysmorphia, or even her sexuality which has been the center of debate for years now. These ideas and feelings flow through songs such as “BIRDS OF A FEATHER” “CHIHIRO” “THE GREATEST” and “SKINNY” which surprisingly more teenage girls can relate to compared to her earlier songs that were written when she was a teenager. Billie Eilish’s music is just timeless and no matter your gender, age, or even the place where you live, her music will resonate with anybody.

Eilish is just at the beginning of her adult career, not even 25 yet, and already has set it off in the right direction. Everyone is excited to see what she does next because they know it will be another step up from her previous albums. She is on a roll and nothing can stop her ideas from flowing onto the page. Maybe one day Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell (real fans would know her real name) will achieve EGOT status or cement another cultural moment but for now, we can appreciate all that she has given us.

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About the Contributor
Isa Peters
Isa is a sophomore, a Perspectives reporter, and on the Black and Gold podcast. She is excited for her first year on the Journalism team! When she’s in the podcast room you can see all the ideas flowing out of her head and simply just enjoying being with friends. She is a passionate artist, music lover (specifically K-pop), and avid movie critic on Letterboxd. When not in the podcast room she’s on the sidelines cheering with the Varsity Dance Team or in her room reading about Jo March’s adventures.

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