Sunday, January 26, 2020

Billie Eilish wins Grammy for Album of the Year

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Billie Eilish

Released: March 29, 2019

Peak: 13 US, 5 UK, 11 CN, 11 AU

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.3 UK, 4.51 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop/alternative


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. !!!!!!! (79 CN)
  2. Bad Guy (3/29/19, 11 US, 6 A40, 34 AA, 12 MR, 2 UK, 11 CN, 12 AU, worldwide sales: 19.5 million)
  3. Xanny (4/13/19, 35 US, 26 CN, 10 AU, worldwide sales: 1.2 million)
  4. You Should See Me in a Crown (7/18/18, 41 US, 7 MR, 60 UK, 27 CN, 16 AU, worldwide sales: 2.43 million)
  5. All the Good Girls Go to Hell (4/13/19, 46 US, 5 MR, 77 UK, 19 CN, 8 AU, worldwide sales: 1.2 million)
  6. Wish You Were Gay (1/30/19, 31 US, 13 UK, 12 CN, 5 AU, worldwide sales: 1.31 million)
  7. When the Party’s Over (10/17/18, 29 US, worldwide sales: 5.06 million)
  8. 8 (4/13/19, 79 US, 52 CN, 35 AU, sales: ½ million)
  9. My Strange Addiction (4/13/19, 43 US, 21 CN, 12 AU, worldwide sales: 1.2 million)
  10. Bury a Friend (1/9/19, 14 US, 12 MR, 6 UK, 10 CN, 3 AU, worldwide sales: 3.98 million)
  11. Ilomilo (4/13/19, 62 US, 25 MR, 38 CN, 23 AU, worldwide sales: ½ million)
  12. Listen Before I Go (4/13/19, 63 US, worldwide sales: 0.7 million)
  13. I Love You (4/13/19, 53 US, 35 CN, 20 AU, worldwide sales: 1.2 million)
  14. Goodbye (69 CN, 54 AU)

Total Running Time: 42:56


3.910 out of 5.00 (average of 28 ratings)

Quotable: “No teenager I can recall has ever made such an impressive album.” – music critic Robert Christgau

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Billie Eilish became a teen folk hero with her blockbuster debut — just your average 17-year-old songwriting prodigy with a head full of nightmares.” RS’20 She became the youngest artist in history to receive nominations for the Big Four Grammys. At the 2020 ceremony, she became only the second artist (after Christopher Cross) to win them all – Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year (both for “Bad Guy”), and Album of the Year. She also won Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Engineered Album. By this time, she was eighteen, but still the youngest to ever take home the prizes for Record of the Year and Album of the Year. LeAnn Rimes was 14 when she won Best New Artist and Lorde was 17 when she landed Song of the Year for “Royals.”

Eilish had already released an EP, but When We All Fall Asleep was her official debut album. It debuted at #1 in the U.S. and UK. She became the youngest solo female act ever to top the charts in the United Kingdom. WK Critic Robert Christgau said, “No teenager I can recall has ever made such an impressive album.” WK

She “makes a bold entrance into the mainstream, leaving the fringes behind to embrace her role as an anti-pop star for the disaffected Gen Z masses.” AMG She has said the record, which explores climate change, drug addiction, heartbreak, mental health, and suicide, was inspired by lucid dreams and night terrors. WK

Eilish largely co-wrote the album with her brother Finneas O’Connell, who produced it from his bedroom studio in the house where they grew up. His production focused on amplified bass, minimalist percussion, and acoustic sounds. Musically, it has been described as “a youthful, hybrid blend that incorporates elements of indie electronic, pop, and hip-hop.” AMG Exclaim!’s Matt Bobkin said the album displayed “a bold artistic vision and a willingness to move beyond the boundaries of pop conventions.” WK

Critics described her vocal style “as soft and whispered;” WK The Daily Telegraph’s Neil McCormick said she could “shift from coquettish to threatening, playfully ironic to emotionally sincere in a breath.” WK He said she “sounds modern and old fashioned at the same time.” WK “Like Lorde’s devilish little sister, Eilish delivers her confessional lyrics in hushed bursts of breath, at times dirge-like in their sedateness and otherwise intensely threatening in their creepiness.” AMG

Intro/“Bad Guy”

The album kicks off with !!!!!!!, a thirty-second “intro in which Eilish slurps saliva from her Invisalign aligners and announces that ‘this is the album,’ before she and her brother descend into laughter.” WK She follows that with “the whispery trap-pop strut of Bad Guy,” RS’20 using “a bass, a kick-drum and amplified finger snaps.” WK Lyrically, she taunts her partner and suggests she is the “bad guy” and not him. The worldwide #1 hit – the fifth single from the album – was released simultaneously with When We All Fall Asleep.


Xanny was inspired by a party where Eilish’s friends were drinking and throwing up and becoming “completely not who they were.” WK It was built around “a jazz-inspired loop in order to replicate the feeling of being ‘in secondhand smoke.’” WK

“You Should See Me in a Crown”

The “trap-influenced electropop song” WK was inspired by an episode of the BBC TV series Sherlock. Eilish sings over “blaring synths and rapid-fire hi-hats.” WK It was the first single, preceding the release of the album by six months.

“All the Good Girls Go to Hell”

Stereogum described this as a “punchy piano number” and one of the album’s “poppiest tracks.” WK It explores the notion that God and the Devil are observing humans as a meek group of people and pondering, “What are they trying to do here?” WK

“Wish You Were Gay”/“When the Party’s Over”

On this “jazzy classic pop song” WK Eilish sings about a man she likes who doesn’t show romantic interest in her. She wishes that he was gay so that it would explain his lack of interest in her. WK In a different vein, the “piano ballad” When the Party’s Over was written when her brother left his date’s house “kind of for no reason.” WK Both songs were top-40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

“8”/“My Strange Addiction”

The album’s eighth song, appropriately titled 8, “is a ukulele-based lullaby which manipulates Eilish's vocals to make her sound like a small child.” WK the bass-heavy My Strange Addiction follows. She got approval from Steve Carrell, B.J. Novak, John Krasinski, and Mindy Kaling to use samples of their voices as featured in the “Threat Level Midnight” episode of the TV sitcom The Office.

“Bury a Friend”/“Ilomilo”

This was the second-highest charting song from the album, reaching #14. Eilish wrote this tale of “gothic angst” RS’20 from the perspective of what a monster under a bed feels. Musically, the “minimalist electronica and industrial song” WK contains a vocal line resembling the Doors’ “People Are Strange” and a beat similar to Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead.” WK The beat from the song “leads seamlessly into…Ilomilo, an electropop cut named after the 2010 video game.” WK

“Listen Before I Go”/“I Love You”/“Goodbye”

Finneas explained that the songs are related because they express “different sentiments about a farwell.” WK Eilish sings Listen Before I Go from the perspective of someone about to commit suicide. Eilish said I Love You, whose chorus has drawn comparisons to “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, was about how “it sucks to be in love sometimes.” WK Goodbye features lines from each of the other songs on the album, except for the intro.


In the end, this is a remarkable beginning for such a young artist. “She’s a highly relatable kid – not yet of legal voting age at the time of the album’s release – and an avatar for an audience that deals with similar mental health struggles and growing pains.” AMG

Notes: The Japanese edition added the tracks “Come Out and Play” and “When I Was Older.” A Japanese limited deluxe edition also added a remix of “Bad Guy” with Justin Bieber and a Japanese complete edition included “Everything I Wanted” as well. A reissue from Target added “When I Was Older,” Bitches Broken Hearts,” and “Everything I Wanted.”

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First posted 12/12/2020; last updated 4/25/2022.

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