Billie Eilish’s dark descent: Unraveling the depths of “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”

"Eilish in tons of different mindsets like confident on “bad guy,” heartbroken on “wish you were gay” and suicidal on “listen before you go.” However, even when this album shows us the dark and scary side of Eilish, it still comes off as incredibly beautiful to the ear." - Arts & Entertainment Editor / Al Harmon.

“When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go” is the first studio album by 17-year-old pop music superstar Billie Eilish. Eilish first made waves in 2016 with her first single “Ocean Eyes” and hasn’t slowed down since. In 2017, Eilish dropped her first EP “don’t smile at me” with notable tracks being “ocean eyes,” “bellyache” and “COPYCAT.” This year, Eilish has proven to be a mainstay in the pop charts for years to come with her latest release charting at number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 and 14 songs also charting. However, this is not your typical pop album; “When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go” is an interesting, deep, and shockingly dark glimpse into the mind of the young artist.

We are introduced with a quirky interlude with Eilish saying, “I have taken out my Invisalign and this is the album,” followed by laughter from her, her brother, and producer Finneas. However, what we are about to get into is no laughing matter. The first song on this album is titled “bad guy,” she comes out of the gate swinging with this fun, upbeat song, taunting a possible lover about how she looks as a villain. The typical good-girl-goes-for-bad-boy trope is reversed here as Eilish addresses herself as the bad guy.

The song’s music video has similar themes, filled with bright colors and evil henchmen. Eilish sings in the chorus, “So you’re a tough guy/Like it rough guy/Just can’t get enough guy/Chest always so puffed guy I’m that bad type/Make your mama sad type/Make your girlfriend mad tight/Might seduce your dad type/I’m the bad guy.” The song also includes fantastic synths and hard trap drums to go along with it.

The next track, “xanny,” starts with Eilish’s strong but soft vocals with sparse instrumentals, building to a chorus that features earth-shattering bass and hard drums, making the song’s tone seem dark and scary. The song seems to be themed around the use of recreational drugs and continues the trend of artists going away from drugs after the untimely deaths of artists like Mac Miller, Lil Peep, and more.

“You should see me in a crown” features a fast, hard, and edgy beat that makes you afraid as it builds up to the chorus. During the chorus, the beat goes insane as Billie sings, “You should see me in a crown/I’m gonna run this nothing town/Watch me make ’em bow/One by one by one/One by one by.” According to Billie, this song was inspired by a scene in the BBC TV show “Sherlock”.

“All the good girls go to hell” is an interesting track due to its subject matter and strong imagery. According to Finneas in an interview with Vulture, the song is about climate change and how we as people have caused it. Eilish sings in the pre-chorus, “Hills burn in California/My turn to ignore ya/Don’t say I didn’t warn ya,” which is the most hammer-on-the-nail lyric about in the song. However, the song features incredibly smart writing from the 17-year-old, filled with Biblical imagery such as by name-dropping Saint Peter who guards the entrance to heaven. While the message is depressing and sad, the instrumentals behind it are very fun and groovy, even while taunting God.

“When the party’s over” is the second and biggest single off this album, as well as where we see Eilish at her best vocally. Here, there is no hiding behind instrumentals as Billie takes the spotlight and shines. “When the party’s over” is heartbreaking but beautiful at the same time. She sounds genuinely hurt with her putting distance between her and her lover. On most of this album, the instrumental is the key part with Eilish helping alongside it, however, here the soft piano is the only bit of instrumental besides Eilish and Finneas’ background vocals. This song is one of the highest points not only on the album but in all of Eilish’s discography.

“8,” is the first real down part of this album. It features Eilish’s vocals pitched up to make her sound like a child and throughout the song, the vocals go back and forth between each other with them sounding like they are having a conversation. The concept of this song is cool in premise; however, the execution comes across as annoying.

“Bury a friend” takes the album back into the dark and scary tone of prior songs and is a turning point in the album and the best track instrumentally. The song features a Kanye West-type drum pattern along with samples from a dentist’s drill on it to make it that much scarier.  

One of the final tracks is “i love you,” which is another vocally-focused track with an acoustic guitar looped in the instrumentals and another beautiful vocal performance by Eilish and Finneas. The song is about the struggles of being in a complicated relationship. The song may even be the other side of the relationship seen in the previous track. In this track, we see the subject of the song feeling blamed and feeling like they did something wrong with the lines, “What the hell did I do?/Never been the type to.”

The final track on this album, “goodbye,” is unique because it features lyrics and points from other songs on this album. Also, as confirmed in an interview with PopBuzz, the song seems to be the final of the storyline in the last three songs. The instrumentals and Eilish’s vocals make it seem like we are in a deep space with her vocals being echoed and the instrumental ringing making us feel like we are in the mind of Eilish and it’s scary.

Overall, “when we all fall asleep where do we go” takes on a roller coaster of emotions as we travel through the brain of Billie Eilish. We see Eilish in tons of different mindsets like confident on “bad guy,” heartbroken on “wish you were gay” and suicidal on “listen before you go.” However, even when this album shows us the dark and scary side of Eilish, it still comes off as incredibly beautiful to the ear. A huge part of what makes this album special is the amazing production on behalf of Finneas. This album is an incredibly interesting look into the mind of the young artist and a beautiful one for that matter.

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