Billie Eilish, #1 album of 2019 according to Billboard magazine
Welcome to the revival of goodmusicnotes.com. This blog was created a few years back as a reaction to the negative coverage of modern music, under the philosophy that music is a positive thing, not something to be approached with disdain or prejudgment.
My challenge to myself in this revival is to listen to the top 100 albums of 2019 and provide my thoughts on them in individual blog posts. My style is to start punchy and weave in some heart-felt prose, so forgive the more subdued prologue this time.
As I work from the top down, from insanely popular and possibly overexposed music to the less so, I find myself in the unenviable position of writing about music that has been subjected to countless critiques already.
So, to be trite, what is there to say about Billie Eilish’s full-length album debut that hasn’t already been said? Probably nothing, but here goes.
Visceral. Visceral. When Billie and her brother Finneas collaborate, they embody the concept of music as a gut-felt, living being. That’s what makes this album sing, so to speak. From the subwoofer-heavy bass bleats to the teeth-chattering vocal effects, you actually feel this album in your body as you listen. The surreal, atmospheric lyrical narratives heighten the effect of the music, making it seem more than gimmicky noodling.
But what anchors the bold production and the spooky lyrics are a trifecta of unbeatable ingredients: pristine melodies, jammin’ grooves, and naked vocals. Billie has a vocal gift, one that transcends the showboat-y criteria of diva worshipers. She emotes in a deft way that either reflects her youth or transcends it–I still haven’t decided.
The grooves here, with an obvious nod to the megahit “Bad Guy,” are the real unheralded bright spot. R&B is my musical home base, and my neck was working overtime as I appreciated the deep-dish grooves of “you should see me in a crown” and “bury a friend.”
I was in college when Tori Amos broke big, and Billie brings the same eccentric pixie-ish energy to her vocal performances. A whole generation of female vocalists have thrived in this emo-centric niche, so I’m not saying Billie is the direct descendant of Tori or that there aren’t a slew of other artists that take this tack to their recordings, but it’s a pleasant throwback reference for me personally.
Love, love, love this record and am excited about what the future holds for Billie.