Happier Than Ever: A Review
By Kirsty Freeman
Billie Eilish’s second studio album Happier Than Ever was released on July 30th, and it has already received universal acclaim. Billie is often titled as the Queen of Gen-Z, and her second album certainly lives up to that title.
Image via Happier Than Ever music video
This softer, more low-key (in comparison to her debut) album achieved 1.028 million pre-adds and achieved Apple Music’s record for the most pre-saved album in the platform’s entire history.
The album begins with “Getting Older,” a reminder that Billie is not the same 15-year-old who shocked the world with “Ocean Eyes.” It is the now 19-year-old’s way of demonstrating how fame from a young age has messed up her life. The song shows perspective that comes with age, but also demonstrates Billie’s inner turmoil. “Things I once enjoyed/Just keep me employed now” is the hook and reflects sentiments made throughout the whole album. The next song, “Didn’t Change My Number,” is about separation after breakups and the sympathy that can come with it. It is brilliantly written and perfectly captures the feeling of being emotionally fed up with someone and having no energy left to give them.
“Billie Bossa Nova '' is up next and is a musical delight. It is a fantasy, dreamlike song that romanticizes a relationship, yet still contains the singer’s iconic darkness with the line: “You better lock your door/And look at me a little more. In “My Future,” Billie dedicates a love song to herself. She sings, “I’m in love with my future/Can’t wait to meet her.” That single lyric seems to capture the sentiment of the album — it seems like Billie is writing letters of love to herself. Whether it is the smooth-jazz guitar or the self-love that pours out of it, there is something so lovely about this song. Billie, on the Lyric Mode of her album (which can be found on Spotify), says about “My Future”, “it’s cute to me now, because I listen to it and the girl singing it, which is me then, is singing about me now.”
“Oxytocin,” named after the ‘love drug’, was written for live performances, which becomes obvious while listening. It is lusty, sexy, and with the beats constantly building and accelerating it comes across as one of the hottest songs on the album. “Goldwing” is a choral moment in the album, all about purity – not necessary sexual purity either. It is about innocence and gold winged angels, with pitch perfect harmonies to create one of the most heavenly two minutes and thirty one seconds of listening time.
Image via Billie Eilish press
“Lost Cause” is lyrically about someone being a lost cause. Whether it be a toxic friend or a significant other, Billie reminds her listeners that sometimes you just need to let the Lost Cause[s] go. Although the music video for this song did draw criticism from fans, who claimed Billie was queerbaiting her LGBTQ+ fans. “Halley’s Comet” is about falling in love, and the dreamy feeling you get when you first fall in love. It’s simple, but sweet.
The song that stuck with me the most; however, was not a song at all. The ninth track on Billie’s album, Not My Responsibility, is a spoken word interlude in which Billie addresses the criticism she receives as both a woman and an artist. It focuses on the double standards that the media and people on the internet hold. It was originally a visual interlude shown during Billie’s Where Do We Go? world tour, and was subsequently uploaded onto her YouTube channel where it amassed over 34 million views. When Billie says: “If I wear what is comfortable, I am not a woman, if I shed layers, I am a slut,” to me, she captured what it feels to get up and put clothes on as a woman.
Billie Eilish - NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY - a short film
“OverHeated” is the beat from “Not My Responsibility” made into a song about the attention and pressure put on Billie. As stated on her Lyric Mode on Spotify, “It’s really just about the insanity of paparazzi and articles and comment sections and twitter!” “Everybody Dies” is morose and a sad truth, yet, an oddly comforting track. It was written to remind her listeners that “you only have so long, and it’s your life, so enjoy it.”
“Your Power” is a disturbing song about being abused and exploited by a trusted older man with statements such as, “She was sleeping in your clothes / But now she’s gotta get to class.” It is personal and heartbreaking that so many young women are taken advantage of, and in this song Billie is speaking back. “NDA” is nightmarish – with creepy pizzicato strings and a strong beat. It is unclear what the song is about, but one can quickly get the impression it is not ideal.
“Therefore I Am” is fun, sassy, and makes you want to shout the lyrics with your friends when you’re mad. “Happier Than Ever” is not what the title suggests. It is definitely a tear jerker, beginning with a sweet ukulele chord progression, before moving onto Billie screaming at the top of her lungs. It feels like she lets everything out that she has been holding onto. “Male Fantasy” ends the album talking about porn and seeing nothing but lies. It is relatable, because it talks about the not uncommon realization that so many people watch porn, and sometimes you feel like you cannot live up to whatever fantasy your partner has.
Billie’s album has been on repeat for me since the day it was released, and I have fallen utterly in love with her music all over again. Her sophomore album is worth every bit of hype – but her music is art, and thus subjective. Fan or not, Billie's ability to calmly reprimand her stalkers, dismiss gossip, and take a stance against abusers all while demanding the respect and happiness that she is due, can be appreciated.
Written by writer Kirsty Freeman