In the absence of a world tour, canceled in 2020 due to a pandemic, Billie Eilish took advantage of forced isolation to take a step back. And record a second album, Happier Than Ever, reporting on the tornado that the planetary success of his first opus, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go ? (2019), breathed life into her life as a young Californian.
How to escape unscathed, in fact, from a commercial triumph (costed in millions of CDs, billions of streams and five Grammy Awards in 2020 – unheard of for such a young artist), coupled with a generational phenomenon? Becoming, at 17, the icon of millennials by singing adolescent anxiety to the rhythm of macabre and haunting pop can leave its mark. Especially at a time when identification is amplified, distorted and perverted in the light of social networks, making the quarter of an hour of anonymity much rarer than the quarter of an hour of celebrity once prophesied by Andy Warhol .
Others before her (Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift…) have chronicled in music the anxieties of stardom and intrusive violence of the smartphone generation. Without these pop stars complaining of being pop stars to tear us away from anything other than a yawn. More than the formatted emotions of too many of her sisters, the words and attitude of Billie Eilish will evoke the raw honesty of Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), the suicide singer of Nirvana. If reptilian whispers and electro grooves replaced the Seattle band’s torn vocals and distorted guitars, the way the young girl opened up about her anxiety, complexes, mental turmoil or self-destructive dizziness in When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go ? resounded with a discomfort close to that of the author of Smells Like Teen Spirit.
In 1993, Kurt Cobain had also transformed the third album of Nirvana, In the Uterus, in a cry of distress reflecting its inability to manage the commercial and generational triumph of Nevermind, their second opus. In Getting Older, who introduces her new album, the American is worried about “Extra weight weighing on [ses] shoulders ” or some “Things that[’elle] did[t] for pleasure / become a job ”. She then notes the impossibility of a private life (NDA), revolts in the face of the continuous flow of rumors and Internet obsessions (Not My Responsibility, Overheated), implicitly recognizes an abusive romantic relationship (Your Power).
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