‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’: Track by Track Breakdown

Billie’s highly anticipated album ‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’ has already placed itself high in the charts after only three days of its release. It broke records even before March 29 as Apple Music’s most pre-added album ever.

After months of anticipation, Billie Eilish’s debut album ‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’ was finally released on Friday, March 29. The fourteen track album was gaining more and more hype with each tease or single release. Each track follows a unique path, all connecting by the end of the album.

‘!!!!!!!’-This 14-second beginner is just Billie taking out her Invisalign with her brother Finneas, jokily saying, “I have taken out my Invisalign, and this is the album”, with four seconds of howling laughter afterwards. Clearly Eilish is happy with the album she created.

‘bad guy’-This track starts with a consistent thumping bass, setting a fast-paced rhythm for the song. Eilish’s voice seems to be layered with many different versions of her own, creating both an echo and a slight muffle against the bass. The heavy pounding seems to match the strength of the lyrics, which are centered around Billie being “the bad guy.” The blunt lyrics show she’s teasing a lover, “flaunting her tough nature while questioning his own.” It’s an explosive way to set the tone of the rest of the album, and it implies that the other tracks will follow a journey through a relationship.

‘xanny’- Soft singing and light bass aren’t what you’d expect after a track like ‘bad guy,’ but that’s exactly what Eilish did with her third track. ‘xanny’ is a hauntingly soft tune about her distaste for the recreational use of prescription medication. When it reaches the chorus, her light voice combats intense bass and drums — you can almost feel her disgust as vibrations rattle. The loudness is short-lived however, and you are left with an innocent hum to end the song.  

‘you should see me in a crown’-‘you should see me in a crown’ is one of the first singles Billie released and signaled a new era for the young artist. Breaking away from light, melancholic tunes, Eilish shocked her audience with this explosive, bass-heavy track that perfectly showed her growth. Eilish — inspired by the show Sherlock — found a way to put a twist on the simple line “you should see me in a crown.”

‘all the good girls go to hell’-The fifth track builds quickly from a soft bell toll to Eilish’s warped voice singing “My Lucifer is lonely.” Quick piano notes with matching drums move the track as harmonies depict an overcrowded Heaven with a lonely Devil. The chorus brings an electric tone that sounds almost like a church organ, and combats the low pitch of her voice. Like her other tracks, she ends the song with a stripped-back fade, with the addition of playful commentary.

‘wish you were gay’-This song caused the most controversy after its release, and while it was the last single before the album drop, Billie had performed it on an Instagram Live three years ago. The final production of the song kept very close to the original — the most prominent instrument being the acoustic guitar. However, the chorus has added bass and piano, and harmonies support the powerful voice Eilish pushes. She wrote this song about a past crush of hers who didn’t feel the same way and left her to pick up the pieces — “To spare my pride/To give your lack of interest an explanation.” This is one of the songs in the album that shows a reflective side of Billie.

‘when the party’s over’-This is the second single release out of the four, following ‘you should see me in a crown’. Described by Eilish “as more of an angry mood,”  the song reflects herself taking space from a relationship and being alone. There’s anger laced in her pitch as Billie shifts from deep notes to her iconic high whisper, just as the piano gets more and more aggressive. This song in particular is a perfect mix of softness and aggression, showing conflicting emotions within the singer.  

‘8’-A high-pitched voice and sweet ukulele kick off the eighth track ‘8’, and follows throughout the song. This is another song Eilish previously unofficially released, but now with full production. Her voice changes throughout the entire song, going from an unnaturally high pitch back to her regular voice; the two play off of eachother in harmony through lyrics of being invisible to a crush. The cheerful voice is deceitful — this is a song of heartbreak and disappointment.  

‘my strange addiction’- It’s no surprise that Billie loves the comedy show The Office, but she takes that love one step further in this track. Billie starts the track with a clip from Season 2, Episode 17: Threat Level Midnight, followed by a poppy, electric beat. With lyrics comparing love to a deadly addiction, Eilish describes how it feels when she falls in love. In addition, she was able to incorporate her favorite TV show in between verses seamlessly with the never-ending beat.

‘bury a friend’-This is the song that Eilish says shaped the entire album, even being the origin for the title ‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’; this question is posed three times throughout the entire song. Written from the perspective of the monster under a bed, Billie explores a unique perspective through sleep paralysis and monsters in the dark. The song ends with a soft thumping pattern, before being quickly cut off.

‘ilomilo’-The soft thumping of the previous track continues and starts off this airy track. The bubbly electric beats and Billie’s high voice add a mystical, game-like feel — which is exactly what she wanted. Ilomilo is a puzzle game from 2010 that the singer loved to play; the main objective being to bring two characters together. Playing off this idea, Eilish sings of the anxiety that comes with separation — “Won’t you stay inside?/…Where did you go?/ I should know…” — and stresses the weight of her worry. She also references the previous track ‘bury a friend’ along with ‘xanny,’ both relating back to fear of this person dying or leaving her.

‘listen before i go’-This track in particular is the heaviest of the album. Starting as a soft piano ballad, Billie weaves a tale of broken hearts and suicide, all while the faint noise of a city grows in the background. The relationship at this point is broken — “Sorry can’t save me now” — and Billie sees no way out except for down. As the song progresses, points of emphasis are hit with dull bass and manipulation, as are the the last lines that Eilish sings softly before fading out. In the absence of her voice, only sirens remain before also being cut.

‘i love you’-‘i love you’ is a quiet guitar ballad with backing harmonies from Finneas. The light pitch paired with an echo effect add to the sadness that seeps from Billie’s voice. From the lyrics, it can be inferred that the idea of saying “I love you” to someone is a difficult task for Eilish. As much as she wants to stay where she is with this person, they told her they loved her, and now they can’t go back to how they used to be. This song captures one of her biggest fears, the fear of commitment.

‘goodbye’- The short closing track is disturbingly low-pitched, with Billie pulling a line from each song on the album in reverse order, ending where it all started — “I’m the bad guy.”

‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’ is a journey from start to finish, and serves as a window into Billie’s mind more than ever before. You feel extreme highs and devastating lows as if it were your own experience. Billie Eilish was able to capture both dreams and nightmares her first album; who knows what fans can expect next from the young artist in the years to come. 


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