If you’re like most adults, the appearance of Billie Eilish in American pop culture happened like a bolt from the blue. All of a sudden, the teen singer was everywhere. At this point, she’s won 5 Grammys, at only 18 years of age. If you’re a little dizzy keeping up with this star on the rise, let’s take a breather and find out where Miss Eilish came from. Here’s a brief history of Billie Eilish’s rise to fame.
A Soundcloud Sensation
Billie Eilish was at the right place at the right time, with the right voice, look, and song. She made her debut on the music sharing platform Soundcloud in 2016, then best known from bringing colorful new hip hop acts into the grey area between underground superstardom and mainstream success. Billie only managed to release a single song on Soundcloud (“Ocean Eyes”, co-written and produced with her older brother Finneas) before being swept up by Interscope subsidiary Darkroom. By this time, “Ocean Eyes” had already garnered more than 200,000,000 streams.
A Bedroom Pop Success Story
Prior to this, Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell (yes, that’s what’s written on her birth certificate) was an unknown, but musically gifted, high schooler. Born in 2001, the daughter of musician parents, Billie grew up with an eye on the entertainment industry. The family lived in Los Angeles, and young Billie grew up performing at talent shows, studying acting, and writing songs. This latter skill was developed by her mother, who homeschooled Billie and brother Finneas, and taught the two basic songwriting skills.
As a result, it was perfectly natural for the siblings to collaborate. The aforementioned “Ocean Eyes” was first developed by Finneas for his own band, but Billie’s rendition was the sensation that solidified the sibling duo’s place in the new pop landscape, almost literally overnight.
A Killer First Record
With Interscope working behind the scenes, Billie gained fame quickly, well beyond that of most (though not all – XXXtentacion, for example) of her Soundcloud peers. She released a couple of EPs, appeared on numerous Youtube music channels, did interviews, and generally built a brand. During this time, she became known for her idiosyncratic style of dress, combining avant garde and oversized silhouettes with anime stylings, streetwear, and 90’s rave costume.
Then, in 2019, “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go” became a runaway smash hit. Featuring enormous songs like “Bad Guy” and “Bury a Friend”, WWFAWDWG was a creepy, funny, immaculately produced pop gem with a year’s worth of singles that started life in the bedroom studio crucible of Billie and Finneas.
More soft spoken than pop belters like Beyonce, Billie’s vibe had more in common with the hazy, druggy Soundcloud rappers with whom she broke into the public consciousness. Nonetheless, Eilish was a singer, never breaking into the rap experiments attempted from other pop stars like Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran. Her persona grew to include an authentic, foul-mouthed teen speak, that endeared her to fans who saw in her a personality not unlike someone they might know from high school.
At present, Billie Eilish is just coming off her sweeping of the 2020 Grammys, and fans are wondering when a followup to “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go” might arrive. Now 18, Eilish has many options when it comes to her sophomore album, but with so many potential singles yet to pull from her debut, a second LP may be a long time coming. On the other hand, label bosses may wish to capitalize on Billie Eilish attention while it’s still white hot, so don’t be surprised if new Billie & Finneas productions start hitting the internet sooner than later.