“I have taken out my Invisalign, and this is the album.”
That’s how Billie Eilish’s debut album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” begins — with mouth sounds heard only in ASMR videos, followed by relentless laughter. The rest of the album is sprinkled with other kooky moments full of humming and giggling in between songs. These small moments help to remind us that she is still a creative teenage girl despite her hard, gothic exterior.
At 14 years old, Eilish gathered a sizeable fan base following the release of her viral song “Ocean Eyes” on SoundCloud in 2017. From there she’s broken the status quo of typical pop stars with her baggy designer clothes, chunky sneakers and horror-themed music videos filled with overflowing black tears, stabbing needles and spiders crawling all over her body. Which other pop stars so often references death in their songs and proclaims, “I want to end me?”
It can be difficult to see Billie Eilish through her eccentricity and describe exactly what she sounds like, but the first song on the album, “bad guy,” is an undeniable pop hit and an incredible start to “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP…” The upbeat pulse of the song, layered over the electro beat, enhanced by subtle finger snapping serves as the perfect background for Eilish to taunt: “I’m that bad type / Make your mama sad type / Make your girlfriend mad type / might seduce your dad type.” She reveals that she is the bad guy, “DUH!” The breakdown at the end of the song acts as the perfect tangent into the rest of the album: “I like when you get mad / I guess I’m pretty glad that you’re alone / You said she’s scared of me? / I mean, I don’t see what she sees / But maybe it’s ‘cause I’m wearing your cologne.”
“WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP…” was co-written and produced by Billie and her brother Finneas in a DIY bedroom studio in their house in Los Angeles. The 14-track album is littered with deeply personal lyrics over catchy beats that get stuck in your head. “Ilomilo” and “all the good girls go to hell” fit this formula.
Contrasting the groovier energy of other songs, Eilish mourns the death of her friends on “xanny” and says a hard no to using drugs for recreational purposes. She ends the song with the verse “What is it about them? / I must be missing something / They just keep doin’ nothing / Too intoxicated to be scared” followed by haunting acapella harmonies.
Billie has shared that she has intense synesthesia, and shares the innermost workings of her dark and twisted mind between the songs and the accompanying visuals. The Billie Eilish Experience was a launch party museum hosted by Spotify where viewers were able to see the album through Eilish’s eyes. Each track had its own multi-sensory room that added to the Experience. For those who are not in Los Angeles, moving artwork has been added to each song on Spotify to bring the experience to digital listeners.
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last night was the opening night of “THE BILLIE EILISH EXPERIENCE” a museum/exhibit curated and designed by me. OPEN ALL WEEKEND IF YOU RSVP’D a room dedicated to each song off my album. 6 or so months ago i came to my team with the idea to basically create a museum for “when we all fall asleep, where do we go?” i wanted to create a space in which i could really show you the way i see things. as well as let you hear the album with a good sound system and in an atmosphere that was exactly what it needed to be without anyone having to pay. i have incredibly intense synesthesia that plays a roll in every aspect of my life and is the reason i create what i create. every room in the space is made for you to experience it the way i do. each room has its own color, temperature, smell, texture, shape, number, and texture… just as everything in my head does. i really still cant believe we made this actually happen.. its thanks to so so so so so many amazing amazing people and @spotify. sometimes i can’t breathe if i think too much about the things that are happening around me. im in love with my life a little, and half the time im terrified ill wake up and it will all be gone. i love you all. thank you for believing in me. mainly, this is just a post thanking everyone for coming and for allowing me to literally let my dreams come to life. i’ll post what each room looks like very soon so if you cant make it to the space you’ll still see it… thank you
Previously released singles like “you should see me in a crown,” “wish you were gay,” “when the party’s over” and “bury a friend” carry the album through some of the slower songs.
A notable song from the second half, “my strange addiction” features audio from the cult favorite show “The Office.” The song opens with Michael Scott’s voice saying, “No, Billie, I haven’t done that dance since my wife died.”
As the album winds down with slower songs like “listen before i go,” “i love you” and “goodbye,” Eilish tells the story of a relationship gone wrong and hints to an impending breakup or suicide in “listen before i go” with the opening verse “Take me to the rooftop / I wanna see the world when I stop breathing / Turnin’ blue.” The soft piano combined with Eilish’s precisely timed breaths creates the perfect melancholy ballad to end an otherwise upbeat album. The acoustic track “i love you” (in which the key phrase is “but I don’t want to”) further explores the struggles of a relationship, and features harmonies from Finneas.
The background vocals from “xanny” introduce the first half of “goodbye,” the final track on the album. It cycles backwards through the album, reciting lines from each song. “I don’t like when albums just end,” said Eilish in an interview with MTV. “I don’t like when a song just ends on an album and then nothing feels like it’s actually over. I really wanted something to feel like a finish line, to feel like a period at the end, you know? So the idea was to have that ‘please, don’t leave me be’ right at the beginning, and then basically the rest of the song is every single song on the album, starting from the bottom to the top. And then when it gets to the top, it just kind of dies down and it feels like it’s a goodbye. It almost feels like an RIP.”