Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O'Connell is an American singer and songwriter. She first gained attention in 2015 when she uploaded the song "Ocean Eyes" to SoundCloud, which was subsequently released by the Interscope Records subsidiary Darkroom. The song was written and produced by her brother Finneas, with whom she collaborates on music and live shows. Her debut EP, Don't Smile at Me, became a sleeper hit, reaching the top 15 in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
Eilish's debut studio album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, debuted atop the Billboard 200 and became the best-performing album of 2019 in the US. It also reached No. 1 in the UK. The album contains six Billboard Hot 100 top 40 singles: "When the Party's Over", "Bury a Friend", "Wish You Were Gay", "Xanny", "Everything I Wanted", and "Bad Guy", the last of which became her first No. 1 single in the US. In 2020, she performed the theme song "No Time to Die" for the James Bond film of the same name, which became her first to peak at No. 1 in the UK.
Her accolades include five Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, two Guinness World Records, three MTV Video Music Awards, and one Brit Award. She is the youngest person and second person ever to win the four main Grammy categories – Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year – in the same year. In 2019, Time magazine placed her on their inaugural "Time 100 Next" list. Additionally, Eilish is the 23rd biggest artist of the digital singles era, according to RIAA, selling 37.5 million singles in the US alone.
Early lifeO'Connell was born in Los Angeles, California, on December 18, 2001. She is the daughter of teacher, actress, and screenwriter Maggie Baird, and construction worker Patrick O'Connell, who worked part-time as an actor, appearing in films like Iron Man. Both her parents are amateur musicians. She is of Irish and Scottish descent. The singer's middle name, Eilish, was originally meant to be her first name, while Pirate was to be her middle name. She was conceived via in vitro fertilisation. She was raised in Los Angeles' Highland Park neighborhood.
While she was homeschooled, her mother taught her and Finneas the basics of songwriting. O'Connell and her brother had worked together on some music, while he had been writing and producing his own songs and performing with his band. O'Connell said her brother and her mother inspired her to get into music. Their parents encouraged the siblings to express themselves and explore whatever they wanted, including art, dancing and acting. O'Connell wrote her first "real" song at age 11 for her mother's songwriting class. The song is about the zombie apocalypse, inspired by the television series The Walking Dead from which she took script lines and episode titles that she added to the song as part of the assignment. O'Connell had gone on some acting auditions, which she disliked; however, she enjoyed recording background dialogue for crowd scenes and worked on the films Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Ramona and Beezus, and the X-Men series. She performed at talent shows and joined the Los Angeles Children's Chorus at age eight.
O'Connell grew up listening to The Beatles, Justin Bieber, Green Day and Lana Del Rey.
2015–2017: ''Don't Smile at Me''In October 2015, Eilish recorded the song "Ocean Eyes", written and produced by Finneas originally for his band, after her dance teacher asked them to record a song for a dance routine. They released the song on SoundCloud, as they had already done with a couple of songs they wrote. The record and Eilish received praise and promotion from various media outlets and marketers, including radio stations and music supervisors such as Beats 1, KCRW, BBC One, Zane Lowe, Jason Kramer, Annie Mac, and Chris Douridas. Finneas' manager had reached out to him after he made "Ocean Eyes" to discuss Eilish's potential. In a deal arranged by Finneas, Apple Music signed Eilish to A&R company Platoon, which helps package artists before they get a major label deal. Eilish then got a publicist, who connected her to the luxury fashion brand Chanel, and a stylist, both of whom helped shape her image.
A music video for "Ocean Eyes" was released in March 2016. By August 2016, Eilish had signed to the record label and artist management company The Darkroom, an imprint of Interscope Records. Justin Lubliner, who signed Eilish to The Darkroom, developed her rollout as an artist, taking inspiration from the model of hip hop artists such as Travis Scott and Chance the Rapper, not relying on one big single and focusing on creating a "persona and distinct aesthetic". A video of Eilish performing a dance to "Ocean Eyes" was released in November 2016, and the song was re-released worldwide through Darkroom and Interscope. That year, Eilish also released the single "Six Feet Under", which premiered on Apple Music's Beats 1 radio show. "Ocean Eyes" was certified platinum by the RIAA in September 2018 and peaked at No. 84 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 2019.
On January 14, 2017, Eilish released an EP with four remixes of "Ocean Eyes". Following the success of the "Ocean Eyes" remixes, Eilish released the single "Bellyache" on February 24, 2017, with a video released in March 2017. That month, Eilish released the track "Bored" as part of the soundtrack to the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. In March, Apple Music also showcased Eilish at the South by Southwest music festival. In June 2017, Eilish released the single "Watch" with a follow-up single, "Copycat" released in July 2017, along with the announcement of her debut extended play, Don't Smile at Me. Each Friday in July, another single to the EP was added. These singles included "Idontwannabeyouanymore" and "My Boy", both of which were certified gold by the RIAA. Don't Smile at Me was released in August 2017. The EP transformed Eilish "from pastel pop star to dark pop artist."
Eilish's team worked with Spotify, which promoted her on its most popular playlist, "Today's Top Hits". The Baffler described Eilish's sound as fitting into the "streambait" genre consisting of largely "mid-tempo, melancholy pop" influenced by Lana Del Rey, whose "singing style, bleakness, and the hip-hop influenced production" shaped the aesthetic. Eilish's commercial success expanded with her Spotify promotion. In September 2017, Apple Music named Eilish their Up Next artist, which followed with a short documentary, a live session EP and an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music's radio station Beats 1. That month, the live EP titled was released. In December 2017, Eilish released her collaboration with American rapper Vince Staples titled "&Burn", for a remix of "Watch" included on the expanded edition of the EP.
2018–present: ''When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?''In February 2018, Eilish embarked on the Where's My Mind Tour, which concluded in April 2018. For Record Store Day 2018, Eilish released a 7" vinyl featuring an acoustic version of her song "Party Favor" and an acoustic cover of Drake's "Hotline Bling". Eilish collaborated with American singer Khalid for the single "Lovely", which was released in April 2018 and added to the soundtrack for the second season of 13 Reasons Why. "Lovely" was certified platinum in the US. She also released the singles "Bitches Broken Hearts" and "You Should See Me in a Crown", and the latter was featured on the soundtrack to the video game FIFA 19. In July 2018, Eilish performed at the Mo Pop Festival. In October 2018, Eilish released the single "When the Party's Over", and signed a talent contract with Next Management for fashion and beauty endorsements. She was placed on the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in November of that year, and released the single "Come Out and Play", written for a holiday-themed Apple commercial.
In early January 2019, Eilish's EP Don't Smile at Me reached 1 billion streams on Spotify, making her the youngest artist to top 1 billion streams on a project. That month, Eilish released "Bury a Friend" as the third single from her upcoming debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, along with "When I Was Older", a single inspired by the 2018 film Roma, which appeared on the compilation album Music Inspired by the Film Roma. "Bury a Friend" peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. In February, Eilish partnered with YouTube for a documentary mini-series titled "A Snippet Into Billie's Mind". "Wish You Were Gay", her fourth single from the album, was released on March 4, 2019, and debuted and peaked at No. 31 in the US and was certified platinum by the RIAA.
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? was released on March 29, 2019. Spotify launched a "multi-level campaign behind the album", creating a multi-media playlist and "new product features" that Spotify stated "allow for vertical video content, custom assets, and editorial storylines all with the goal of creating more meaningful and engaging context for fans." In Los Angeles, Spotify set up a "pop-up enhanced album experience", which included different artwork and a "multi-sensory" experience of each track for fans. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 as well as on the UK Albums Chart, making Eilish the first artist born in the 2000s to have a No. 1 album in the United States, and the youngest female ever to have a No. 1 album in the United Kingdom. Upon the album's debut, Eilish broke the record for most simultaneously charting Hot 100 songs by a female artist, with 14, after every song from the album, excluding "Goodbye", charted on the Hot 100. The fifth single from the album, "Bad Guy", was released in conjunction with the album. A remix of the song featuring Justin Bieber was released in July 2019. In August, Bad Guy peaked at No. 1 in the US, ending Lil Nas X's record-breaking 19 weeks at No. 1 with "Old Town Road". She is the first artist born in the 2000s and the youngest artist since Lorde to have a number-one single.
Eilish began her When We All Fall Asleep Tour at Coachella Festival in April 2019, with the tour concluding on November 17, 2019 in Mexico City. In August 2019, Eilish partnered with Apple Music for Music Lab: Remix Billie Eilish, part of Apple Stores' Music Lab sessions during which fans deconstruct her song "You Should See Me In A Crown" and learn how to create their own remix on Apple devices and GarageBand. On September 27, 2019, Eilish announced her Where Do We Go? World Tour via her Instagram page. The tour wass set to begin in Miami on March 9, 2020 and conclude in London on July 27, 2020, but had a number of dates postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On November 7, 2019, Jack White's Third Man Records announced the label would be releasing an acoustic live album of Eilish's performance from the record label's Blue Room, exclusively sold on vinyl at Third Man retail locations in Nashville, Tennessee, and Detroit, Michigan. On November 13, 2019, she released her next single, "Everything I Wanted". On November 20, 2019, Eilish was nominated for six Grammy Awards including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Bad Guy" as well as Album of the Year and Best New Artist. At the age of 17, she became the youngest artist to be nominated in all four General Field categories. In the same month, Eilish was crowned 2019's Billboard Woman of the Year.
On January 14, 2020, Eilish was announced as performer of the title track for the 25th installment in the James Bond film franchise, No Time to Die, written and produced with her brother. With this announcement, Eilish became the youngest artist to write and perform a James Bond theme song. The song was released as a single February 13, 2020. Shortly after, it became the second Bond theme song to top the British official charts and the first Bond theme performed by a female artist to do so. It was also Eilish's first No. 1 single in the UK. At the 62nd Grammy Awards, she became the youngest person and first woman to win the four main Grammy categories – Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year – in the same year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Eilish and O'Connell performed for both iHeart Media’s Living Room Concert for America, and Global Citizen's Together at Home concert series, singing a cover of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" for the latter. Both virtual concerts were an effort to raise awareness and funds towards fighting the disease. Eilish made her debut as the youngest member on the annual Forbes list ranking the highest-paid celebrities of 2020, reportedly earning 53 million dollars.
Musical style, songwriting, and music videosEilish possesses a soprano vocal range. Avery Stone of Noisey described her vocals as "ethereal", and Maura Johnston of Rolling Stone characterized them as "whispery". Doreen St. Félix of The New Yorker opined that she has a "husky, slurring voice that she can thin out to reedy". Music critic Robert Christgau wrote that while Eilish is musically and commercially pop, her brand also "reminds us how amorphous has become", describing her soprano as "too diminutive for vocal calisthenics", adding that her "playful version of teen-goth angst" and "electro-saturated debut album" captivated a diverse audience. Her music incorporates pop, dark pop, electropop, emo pop, experimental pop, goth-pop, indie pop and teen pop.
Eilish and her brother, Finneas, collaborate on songwriting. Eilish called Finneas her partner in making music. He writes for her albums, produces her music and also performs with her on live shows. Eilish and Finneas "like to completely make up things and become characters" and "have songs that are really fictional". Eilish said a number of the songs also derive from her and Finneas' experiences. They try to write "really interesting and conversational" lyrics: "We try to say stuff that doesn't have to be that deep but you say something way deeper in a certain way that makes sense, but you haven't really thought about." Finneas has stated when he writes songs for his sister, he aims to "write that I think she'll relate to and enjoy singing and empathise with the lyrics and make her own". When he writes with Eilish, he tries "to help her tell whatever story she's trying to tell, bounce ideas off of her, listen to her ideas", and use a language that fits her voice telling the story.
Eilish has wanted to direct her own music videos since she was 14 but was initially not given the opportunity, due to lack of experience. In 2019, she directed the video for her song "Xanny".
InfluencesEilish has said that stumbling upon "Runaway" by Aurora on YouTube inspired her to pursue a music career. Hip hop music is Eilish's favorite genre and biggest inspiration. She has cited Tyler, the Creator, Childish Gambino and Avril Lavigne as major musical and style influences for her and other influences include Earl Sweatshirt, Amy Winehouse, the Spice Girls, Lorde, and Lana Del Rey. She has been compared in the media to Lavigne, Lorde and Del Rey, the last of whom she says she does not want to be compared to, stating, "That woman has made her brand so perfect for her whole career and she shouldn't have to hear that." She has also named Rihanna as an inspiration for her style choices, after she called fashion her "defense mechanism" during an acceptance speech. Eilish said that Ariana Grande's 2019 album Thank U, Next inspired her to continue making music.
Public imageMuch of the media attention surrounding Eilish has revolved around her style, which consists primarily of baggy, ill-fitting clothing. In 2017, Eilish stated that she likes dressing out of her comfort zone to feel like she grabs the attention of everyone around her. She tries to be "really different from a lot of people" and dresses opposite to what others wear. Aiming to "look memorable", Eilish said that she "proved to people that more important than they think" and likes being "kind of intimidating, so people will listen up." In 2019, she stated: "Over time it's kind of become a thing, 'Billie Eilish, the creepy, weird, scary girl.' And I don't like that. It's lame. I just don't want to stay one thing." That year, Eilish appeared in a Calvin Klein advert, wherein she mentioned that she dresses in baggy clothes to prevent people from body-shaming her.
According to Kenneth Womack in 2019, Eilish had "staked her claim as the reigning queen of electropop" with her debut album and "been variously called out for being precocious and the poster child for late-adolescent angst. But in truth, she’s nothing of the sort."
Products and endorsementsIn April 2019, Eilish released clothing in collaboration with Takashi Murakami, inspired by her music video for "You Should See Me in a Crown", also directed and animated by Murakami, as well as a limited edition vinyl figure of herself from the video. Eilish also collaborated with Adobe Creative Cloud the same month for a series of advertisements as well as a social media art contest, where users would submit artwork with the hashtag "#BILLIExADOBE".
Eilish appeared in the debut of Calvin Klein's "I Speak My Truth In #MyCalvins" ad campaign in May 2019, as well as the Ad Council's "Seize the Awkward" campaign, a series of PSAs targeting mental health awareness. She fronted MCM Worldwide's fall 2019 advertising campaign in July 2019, and later that month, collaborated with Los Angeles-based clothing brand Freak City for a clothing line. Also in July 2019, she performed at a dinner hosted by Chanel on Shelter Island to celebrate the brand's pop-up yacht club.
In August 2019, Eilish partnered with Apple to allow Apple Store customers to experiment with her song "You Should See Me in a Crown" in Music Lab sessions in its stores. Eilish's collaboration with the clothing company Siberia Hills was met with controversy after it was revealed that the company had used plagiarized designs of fan art of the character Nozomi Tojo from Love Live!, drawn by artist Makoto Kurokawa, for Eilish's clothing line. The brand later clarified that Eilish herself had no knowledge of the plagiarism.
Personal lifeAs of early 2020, Eilish continues to live with her parents and brother in Los Angeles's Highland Park neighborhood. She has revealed that she suffers from Tourette syndrome and experiences synesthesia, as well as struggling with depression. She was raised vegetarian and regularly advocates veganism on social media. In a radio interview Eilish's parents revealed that they once considered taking Eilish into a therapy session for her childhood obsession with Justin Bieber.
- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
- Don't Smile at Me Tour
- Where's My Mind Tour
- 1 by 1 Tour
- When We All Fall Asleep World Tour
- Where Do We Go? World Tour
- Florence and the Machine – High as Hope Tour
Awards and nominationsEilish is the recipient of numerous awards including five Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, two MTV Europe Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, two Guinness World Records, one NRJ Music Award, and one Brit Award.
She is the youngest person and second person ever to win the four main Grammy categories – Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year – in the same year. In 2019, Time placed her on their inaugural "Time 100 Next" list.