Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” takes listeners on an emotional roller coaster

Nineteen year old Billie Eilish is one of the biggest names in pop. Released in July 2021, her sophomore album Happier Than Ever has been produced with various styles that make fans appreciate her unique art. As of August 2021, the album has gotten over 80 million streams. 

The artist known for her dark lyrics about depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as her horror movie-like music videos, shocked the world when she turned that theme around and introduced her new era. It revealed a completely different side of her and her musical style. Not only can you see her mental health growth in this album, but her talent as a lyricist has also grown tremendously. She has become a better writer – her lyrics crisply and clearly reflect her exact emotions.  

Happier Than Ever is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. Each song has its own story and style of music. From the soft and breathy “Everybody Dies” to a rock ballad in the title track, “Happier Than Ever,” Billie has created an album that welcomes people of all tastes into her world of music. 

This album is a collection of sentimental, bittersweet songs. It’s guaranteed that you will feel a wide range of emotions while streaming. Four singles were released before the rest of the songs: “my future,” “Therefore I Am,” “Your Power,” and “NDA.” “NDA” and “Therefore I Am” are more “middle lane” songs, especially when compared to the rest of the album. “NDA” has very specific lyrics that are personal to Billie which I love, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the beat. 

In an interview with VEVO, she explained, “The songs in the album are all over the place and very versatile and different from one another. But also are very cohesive, which is like a big goal for me is to make things feel like the same project, but not like the same song over and over again.” 

I love Billie’s songs because she records them in a way that makes you feel like she’s in the room with you. This aspect of her music makes it feel that much more personal, on top of her transparent and deep lyrics. 

When you stream this album (which you definitely should), I’d listen to it all the way through, in order, and appreciate the different tones, music, lyrics, and simply be grateful for Billie and journey to reclaiming her happiness. 

The best place to listen to (most) of this album would be in the car on a rainy day. The tones of most of these songs are relaxing and intimate, something that matches very well with the mood of a rainy day. Other songs, however, should be screamed at the top of your lungs. 

Judging by the title, most may think that Happier Than Ever is a really “happy” album, but it’s a little more complicated than that. 

First of all, the title track, “Happier Than Ever,” starts as a sad breakup song but entirely transforms into a rock rager with electric guitar. Billie sings about her ex, who she ended her relationship with because of his toxic behaviors. She sings, “I don’t relate to you/ cause I’d never treat me this sh*tty/ all that you did was make me f*cking sad/ just f*cking leave me alone.” The song ends with her screaming in the background, and you can easily hear the pain but also the satisfaction in her voice. The song signifies how she was bottling up her emotions throughout the entire relationship. Now free, she can finally let everything out that she couldn’t before. By the end of the song, she’s screaming about how she hates her ex and telling him to leave her alone. In the beginning, starting as a sad breakup song, she sings, “When I’m away from you, I’m happier than ever,” ultimately stating that she is so much better off without him.

So, pretty shocking for the artist who used to solely be known for her dark and quiet music, right?

Billie’s mental health was a big part of her last album. She felt drawn to writing about death and suicidal thoughts. However, the difference in her mental health now can clearly be seen through the lens of this album. The songs are filled with themes of growth and appreciation for not only the past but also the future, and reflect on the fact that she’s getting older. 

In fact, the album opener is a song called “Getting Older,” where Billie sings to the pulse-like beat, highlighting how fame has been a curse in many ways and how nearing her twenties has also put a damper on her life. She also sings about the way she’s having trouble leaving her history behind, singing, “Things I once enjoyed/ Just keep me employed now.”

The next song is “I Didn’t Change My Number,” where she talks about cutting toxic people out of her life. She sings, “I’m out of sympathy for you/ I didn’t change my number/ I only changed who I reply to/ I only changed who I believe in.” The song does a great job of conveying how she’s reclaiming her own decisions and not doing things to satisfy others. 

In the eleventh song on the album, “Everybody Dies,” Billie expresses her feelings about death and the thought of losing people she loves. She finds comfort in the song, expressing that “The song is a big bummer. It’s really about how everybody dies. You can’t change it and it’s a horrible thought. But it’s also a comforting thought, I don’t know. It gives me comfort to know I’m gonna die.” 

She explains that she’s thought about death since she was very young, as she’s struggled with depression for a great part of her teenage years. Through this song, she has found the good in something terrible that her life revolved around. 

The last lyrics of the song are, “You oughta know/ That even when it’s time, you might not wanna go/ But it’s okay to cry and it’s alright to fold/But you are not alone/ And you are not unknown.” She expresses, “This song is really just about knowing that you only have so long to do what you want, so just do it. Enjoy your life.” 

Fans see Billie as their “safety blanket,” and she has often told fans both in person and via her Instagram, “Nothing matters in life, everybody dies anyway. There’s no need to worry. We are all just here temporarily having fun.” She has expressed that she finds comfort in this thought. 

And personally, I do too.

When I’m worried about something, it puts me at ease to think that we will be gone one day, and we’re all just living in this world for a limited period.

She continues to tell VEVO, “This song is really just about knowing that you only have so long to do what you want so just do it. Enjoy your life.” 

This is why I found it so meaningful when she released “Everybody Dies.” It proves how raw and real this album is, as she is incorporating real quotes that she has said in her life, into her music. I found this song specifically, very emotionally touching, and it gave me immense comfort. 

Billie has synesthesia, a condition where you associate everything and everyone you see with a name, smell, color, and number. In an interview with Spotify, she explained that she sees “Everybody Dies” as blue, and that it smells like rain. 

The twelfth song on the album titled “Your Power” is a raw song that is solely Billie’s voice and the guitar. She highlights the injustice and immense sadness her past relationship brought her. She sings, “How dare you?/ And how could you?/ If you could take it all back, would you?/ I thought that I was special/ You made me feel/ Like it was my fault, you were the devil.” 

These are just a few lyrics in the song that bring out her true emotions in response to the relationship she felt trapped inside of. I think that the way she wrote this song is beautiful. Not only do the lyrics cohesively fall together, but the song also allows her to free her mind and write everything she was feeling at this time of struggle in her life. 

Prior to this album’s release, everyone knew Billie as the artist who likes to wear sweats and not reveal her body to the public. 

That’s why “Oxytocin,” the fifth song on the album, was truly a shocking one. Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone.” She sings, “And what would people say/ If they listen through the wall/I wanna do bad things to you/ I wanna make you yell.” 

She told Spotify that she was “also just going through feelings at the time too” when she recorded this song. She continues, “You can understand those [feelings] if you listen to the lyrics.” She really put everything out there for this song, being free and open about her sexual desires. 

I think this song goes hand-in-hand with the album’s filmic interlude, “Not My Responsibility.” Billie made a film to this interlude pre-COVID when she started her “Where Do We Go” World Tour, her second tour she went on for her freshman album. However, the tour got cancelled due to COVID after the first few shows. 

The fans who were lucky enough to be at those first few shows got to see and hear the “Not My Responsibility” video, where Billie talks slowly, saying “You have opinions about my opinions/ Would you like me to be smaller, weaker, softer, taller?/ If I wear what is comfortable, I am not a woman/ If I shed the layers, I’m a slut/ If I wear more, if I wear less/ Who decides what that makes me? What that means?/ Is my value based only on your perception?/ Or is your opinion of me…not my responsibility?” 

This interlude sends a powerful message, not only regarding what Billie has struggled with during her life of fame, but also what so many women in general have to face in today’s society. 

In the video she showed on her last tour, Billie (with her green and black hair) is seen in a pool of black, slowly shedding her layers of clothing. The video starts with her in a sweatshirt which she takes off, and then she takes off her tank top as she sinks under the black pool and disappears. So, I think that she was even starting to gain confidence at the end of her last era. 

It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to see that confidence unfold as much due to COVID, but I think because there was such a long period of time where we didn’t see anything from her, this new era shocked the world even more.

The fourth song on the album, titled “my future,” was released in the summer of 2020, about a year before this new era. It was the first song Billie wrote in quarantine. She sings, “I’m in love with my future/ Can’t wait to meet her.” 

The song and lyrics have a style that is similar to this current era, looking forward to the future, as a mellow electric piano, drums, and guitar join into the second verse of the song. She ends the song by singing, “I’m in love/ But not with anybody here/ I’ll see you in a couple years.” 

Billie had always released her songs on platforms with all lowercase letters before this album. However, when releasing Happier Than Ever, she capitalized the first letter of each word. She stated that since “my future” came out in the last era, she wanted to keep it all lowercase on the new album to show that it was a song that kicked off the start of her growth. 

According to BBC, “Billie Eilish’s second album, Happier Than Ever, has a core of authenticity and a dreamlike mood that intoxicates.” The Telegraph described it as being “layered in shimmering harmonies.” New Musical Express remarked, “Tackling fame and misogyny with old-timey Hollywood glamour, the star has repeated the success of her stellar debut – without repeating any of its ticks.” 
Happier Than Ever will truly be a roller coaster of emotions for anyone who listens to it. It’s not just an album. It’s a journey that you will only get to experience for the first time, once. So the first time you listen to it, go in order, pay attention to the deep lyrics and beautiful music, and let your mind take you wherever it does. It’s worth it.

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