Music

The fatal allure of pop prodigy Billie Eilish's blues

Sadness is this singer's selling point, and in an age of social media intimacy and immediacy, that can be risky, writes Eleanor Halls

28 April 2019 - 00:02 By Eleanor Halls

In the YouTube comment section for Lovely, one of pop prodigy Billie Eilish's most popular music videos (tallying more than 289-million views), fans compete over their poor mental health.
"I can't stop cutting," reads a comment, reacting to Eilish's lyrics of despair and loneliness (which soundtracked teen Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why, dealing with self-harm). Another chides: "My uncle is depressed and trust me, if you'd had depression you would not be watching videos. Please respect those who are really fighting with it."
A string of outraged and defensive comments ensue until a pithy remark calls closure: "Sis, let us savour and mourn in sadness."
Los Angeles-born Eilish - who was homeschooled and born into a family of actors and musicians - started writing songs at the age of 11. She released her breakout single Ocean Eyes on Soundcloud in 2016. Eight months later and at just 14 years old, Eilish released her debut EP Don't Smile At Me, and had Ocean Eyes picked up and released by Interscope Records. Listen to her now - at all of 17 years old - and you'd think she had lived forever: bruised by the heart's every whim and broken by the mind's most violent thoughts.
With an angelic voice so delicate it would appear translucent, layered over melancholy melodies and shouldered by the kind of eerie, heady beats that made The Weeknd a star, Eilish's nihilism has become her personal brand...

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