The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Confused by modern trends? Let our irreverent new briefing explain everything…
Even I know Billie Eilish is a singer, but what else has she got going for her?
She’s only 18 and won four Grammys last month, will record the new Bond theme song, is Vogue’s cover star and is performing at the Oscars tonight...
Oooh, so I expect she’ll be wearing a super-glamorous frock?
Probably not. She’s something of a goth and has been described as a teenager who dresses like a quarterback. For the Grammys she did wear Gucci – but a lime-green tracksuit-style creation that was deliberately baggy and shapeless so she couldn’t be judged on her body. ‘Nobody can have an opinion because they haven’t seen what’s underneath,’ she’s said of her style.
How aloof, self-assured and non-conformist, yet at the same time fragile and moody.
That’s very much her brand.
So, the voice of her generation?
Yep... though a very quiet one. She sings in an ethereal, reedy whisper. Don’t expect a brassy Goldfinger-style offering for her No Time To Die 007 theme.
What’s her background?
She was born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell in LA in December 2001...
I’ve got underwear older than that!
...her mother and father are both musicians who home-schooled her (and mum Maggie voiced the 1,000-year-old kick-ass monk Samara in the Mass Effect video games); while Billie writes her songs with her brother Finneas, who had a role in the TV series Glee.
So, a modern-day Liam and Noel Gallagher?
Except that they get on, are clean-living, and have never been in a drunken fight with Paul Gascoigne at the Groucho Club. She has Tourette’s, but it manifests as a twitch. So the Gallaghers swear a lot more.
No major controversies, then?
Not really. Some thought it weird that Finneas wrote a song for his underage sister about seducing dads, Bad Guy. But she sings in character – another of her tracks is from the point of view of a psychotic murderer.
So not to be taken literally?
No, but while she sings about fictions, she has called out rappers for lying in their songs.
Maybe Lil Nas X didn’t take his horse to the old town road; maybe Jay-Z has more or fewer than 99 problems?
Possibly. But her issue was more that all their swagger about guns, money and ‘bitches’ was creating a false impression.
So a very woke pop star?
Sure. She’s spoken about abortion, sexual fluidity and mental health – while her Grammywinning album is an introspective affair about depression, suicidal thoughts and climate change, which finds a resonance with her fans. The Cheeky Girls it ain’t.