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Billie Eilish's spooky sound: Imagination or Imagery?

by Gracie Newton / Garnet & Black

Seventeen-year-old music prodigy, Billie Eilish, recently released her “Bury a Friend” music video, her first single from her new debut album, "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?"

You might want to leave the lights on for this one. 

Billie matches her eerie sound with nightmare-inducing visuals that will make you want to look away, yet stare at the same time. In “Bury a Friend,” the first shot cuts to Eilish under a bed with ink-black eyes. Fans feel as if this new video is linked to her “When the Party’s Over” video, in which Eilish drinks black liquid, causing it to then ooze out her eyes, and sob black tears. 

Her inspiration for the video came from a 16-year-old fan who drew Eilish with black, tear-filled and soulless eyes. Eilish admitted that she thought of the video before she wrote the song and that most of her music tends be written in that way. 

“All I want more than anything is for people to like my videos. I think of myself as a visual artist and even when I’m writing music, I’m thinking about the visual beforehand,” Eilish said.

When Eilish was writing “Bury a Friend,” she drew "horrifying monsters" alongside her lyrics. She said she likes to illustrate the way her songs will sound as she is writing.  

As a visual artist, Eilish has made ten music videos with only one E.P. and a few singles out. Eilish, who was a contemporary dancer at age 13 before making it big, got her start after recording her first single “Ocean Eyes” to accompany her routine in a solo dance competition. Her love of choreography is evident through her music videos and “Bury a Friend” is no exception. 

In the video, Eilish is seen running and brashly dancing through halls as if she is entranced. She also portrays visuals of being possessed, getting syringes lodged into her back and signs of psychotic behavior. 

Eilish described “Bury a Friend” as: “A song about a monster with a person in the bed that’s interested.”  Fans speculate that the song is a reflection on Eilish’s night terrors and her own personal demons. 

The lyrics, “… like I wanna drown, like I wanna end me” and “Honestly I thought that I would be dead by now,” suggest depression and suicidal thoughts from the teen and have fans concerned for Eilish’s mental state. Of course, this could also be Eilish writing in character, as she often does. 

Her hit song, “Bellyache,” was written from the point of view of a serial killer, as well as her song, “hostage,” in which she describes stealing other’s souls. 

The theme of “Bury a Friend” doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Eilish said the song made the rest of her forthcoming album "click" in her head. 

"‘Bury a Friend’ is literally from the perspective of the monster under my bed. If you put yourself in that mindset, what is this creature doing or feeling?” She said. 

"When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" is set to be released March 29.

Listen – and watch – with the lights on. 

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