Fri, Jan 31, 2020 - Page 14 News List

The edgy pop radical rewriting the rules

With a fashion sense as unique as her sound, Billie Eilish is the kind of female star who refuses to let the sexualization of her body define her celebrity


US singer-songwriter Billie Eilish performs during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday in Los Angeles.

Photo: AFP

The embodiment of cool with haunting, gravelly vocals and original punk-rock style, Billie Eilish has redefined the contemporary pop star on her blistering path to stardom.

And now the teenage mover and shaker has cemented her place as an establishment leader, posting a banner Grammy night by sweeping the top four categories — the first woman and youngest artist to do so.

The 18-year-old’s phenomenal ascent saw Eilish named Billboard’s 2019 woman of the year — and for good reason. Within a matter of months, she dropped a number one album entitled When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, led the hot songs chart with her single Bad Guy and played a set on a prime stage at the Coachella music festival that was pure fire.

The biggest globally renowned musician to emerge from Generation Z, the candid Eilish draws young fans with a personal social media presence and Internet-speak fluency.

And with a fashion sense as unique as her sound, Eilish is the kind of female star who refuses to let the sexualization of her body define her celebrity.

At just 13, she dropped her debut bedroom-produced single Ocean Eyes on SoundCloud, the do-it-yourself streaming platform that has also brought a generation of young rappers to fame.

The gauzy synth-pop song about painful longing to reconnect with an ex — written and produced by Eilish’s primary creative collaborator, her brother Finneas O’Connell — quickly went viral.

Interscope signed her at age 14 — making the Californian a rare Internet-age pop star to win big online and then see a label invest time and money in cultivating her talent over the long term.

But despite the industry input, Eilish appears to be a singular star whose only influencer is herself.

She deftly imbues often morbid lyrical content — topics include death, depression and fear over climate change — with tinges of irony and humor.

The performer — who has cited grunge band Nirvana as inspiration — delivers poetry in a breathy voice bordering on a whisper, layered over minimal beats akin to electronic music and southern hip-hop.

Put on the spot, Eilish oozes eminent chill — though the nerves of adolescence sometimes peek through.

“We made this album in a bedroom,” she said backstage at the Grammys on Sunday after scooping five trophies, standing next to O’Connell, to whom she routinely gave the mic.

“It’s really like anything is possible, actually,” she added with a wry giggle.


The superstar’s signature style features oversized sweatshirts and baggy pants, often paired with sunglasses and the garish extra-long nail extensions more often associated with rapper Cardi B.

On Grammy night, she wore an oversized Gucci pantsuit with glittering lime green accents — that matched her neon-dyed roots — and even sported a sheer black face mask on the red carpet.

The star has described her body image as “toxic,” and spoken openly about mental health struggles — a growing movement in the music industry, which has lost scores of stars young and old to suicide and overdose.

“Wow, wow, wow, wow,” Eilish began her speech in accepting the award for Bad Guy.

“So many other songs deserved this, I’m sorry.”

Her 22-year-old brother later said:”We didn’t think this would ever win anything.”

“We didn’t write an album to win awards. We wrote an album about depression, about suicidal thoughts, about climate change,” he continued.

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