“Tell the mirror what you know she’s heard before,” said Billie Eilish to the reflection of herself in the mirror. Dark and captivating, the line from the song “idontwannabeyouanymore” expresses her emotions that are deep within herself. The lyrics in the album Don’t Smile at Me (2017) may appear edgy and emotional, at first. However, she does not overdramatize her vocals to emphasize her feelings. With a bold title, Eilish debuts as an artist to share the diverse broken and enticing identities of herself in the album.
Eilish’s debut EP has shaken the music industry with her unique vocal indulged in electronic music. Prior to releasing her EP, her single “Ocean Eyes” (2016) had given her the world’s spotlight when she was only 14 years old. She broke the misconceptions on age with her mature take on music and portrayal of her vulnerabilities and confusions in her songs. Therefore, by calling her album Don’t Smile at Me, she means it to live by her own rules.
The album opens up with “COPYCAT,” one of her most authoritative songs in the album. With powerful bass that vibrates the room, she claim show copycats have “crossed the line” by copying her manners and charms. She does this in h e r signature soft voice, giving a haunting vibe by making it sound like she is whispering right into the ears of the copyists. She also adds a touch of mischievousness by building up a more approachable beat with a different attitude, but goes back her original vibe of the song, fooling the listeners.
The tone of the album darkens with her next song “idontwannabeyouanymore.” Unlike “COPYCAT,” it is slower and delivers a heavier message. She portrays her frustration on how the media is depicting and treating women; “a tight dress is what makes you a whore.” Unfortunately, she finds herself as a victim of this depiction and how she has been judging herself since. Unlike title that is written in a single word, she sings it one by one in her song. She builds up her emotions to the word “you” and sinks her voice on “anymore” to show genuine pain and release from living up to someone else’s standards.
Eilish then touches upon her love relationship through “my boy,” “watch,” and “party favor.” One having a sudden tempo switch of anger, another is a ballad about a broken heart, and the other has a charming vocal with a ukulele. The variety shades of love show how mature she is for her age. Her t wo f amous singles “Bellyache” and “Ocean Eyes” are no doubt a showpiece. In “Bellyache,” she embodies a serial killer who is on the verge of a breakdown. It comes along with a steady guitar and drum beat that shows she is unapologetic of using such a character to illustrate her instability.
“Ocean Eyes” is an admission of her vulnerabilities expressed in longing for her previous lover. It has a euphoric chorus that sends a dreamy feeling of sadness and unfairness that she is feeling in such a way. “Hostage” and “&burn” are the two most stripped back love songs that balance out the tenderness and vulnerabilities she depicted in her previous songs.
Don’t Smile at Me is an honest storytelling from a teenage artist who has faced numerous obstacles and misjudgments but never lost confidence in herself. Original and dangerous, the album incorporates her perspectives on the world that are rarely expressed directly from other mainstream singers. Billie Eilish is a rising star that will continuously display her ambitions and strengths by breaking any prejudice she would face.
▲ Billie Eilish's Album Don't Smile at Me. Provided by itunes.apple.com