On July 30th, Billie EIlish released her second studio album “Happier Than Ever.” Entirely produced by her brother Finneas, the album’s 16 tracks have already collectively gained billions of streams on Spotify alone, so it’s safe to say Eilish remains a tour de force of pop music and the go-to for Gen Z listeners. Eilish also has a Disney+ special for the album coming out in September, meaning the album will be on mainstream media’s radar for at least a few more weeks. Many of the songs on “Happier Than Ever” are more mellow-sounding than some of Eilish’s previous work, leaving room for her vocals to cut through and deliver some of her most personal lyrics to date.
Not Scared of Vulnera(Billie)ty
“Home alone, tryin’ not to eat
Distract myself with pornography
I hate the way she looks at me
I can’t stand the dialogue, she would never be that satisfied
It’s a male fantasy
I’m goin back to therapy”
There’s a lot to unpack in this small section of lyrics: eating disorders, pornography, mental health, and male objectification of women. Eilish has no problem being blunt in detailing the way she sees the world and feels about her life as a part of it. On the one hand, we should champion her willingness to be open and authentic in the same way Gen Z does, especially when it comes to these big issues that many teens deal with on a daily basis. But, coming from a celebrity as popular as Eilish, being open about them isn’t as helpful without constructive criticism about them. Her admittance that this is how she spends her days may lead to a misperceived glorification or acceptance of these behaviors, which we would hope (besides therapy) aren’t replicated by our teens.
Young, Numb, and In Love
“I’m not sentimental
But there’s something about the way you look tonight, mm
Makes me wanna take a picture
Make a movie with you that we’d have to hide
You better lock your phone and look at me when you’re alone
Won’t take a lot to get you goin’
I’m sorry if it’s torture though, I know I know”
Much of this album is based on Eilish’s breakup with ex-boyfriend and rapper 7:AMP, a secret and apparently unhealthy relationship she was in around 2018-2019 that was explored as part of her recent Apple TV documentary. She even told Rolling Stone she hopes this new album encourages girls to break up with their boyfriends and not be taken advantage of. However, this is pop music, so there have to be some love songs. And it seems that for Eilish, the line between love and lust is a blurry one. We can look at her desire for her partner to be focused on her rather than his phone, but her desire to use his attraction to her as a means for sexual gratification is less uplifting. It’s also fair to mention that Eilish has a very smooth singing voice, and she sings this song in a very sultry tone, emphasizing the point that she may have inappropriate intentions behind these words.
Though it can be easier to have flings and hookups, and these might temporarily fill a post-breakup void, it’s important to stress God’s intent for the sexual aspect of a relationship as an exclusive one for a husband and wife. It should also be noted that Eilish is using her body and viewing her partner’s body as vessels of temptation that lead to sexual activity. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and that we should glorify God with our bodies. It’s ok and good to feel confident in the body God has given you, but when that turns into a means for tempting or lusting, God cannot be glorified from it.
Happier Than Ever?
“Things I once enjoyed
Just keep me employed now
Things I’m longing for
Someday, I’ll be bored of
It’s so weird that we care so much until we don’t”
At just 19 years old, this lyric about burnout and the dissatisfaction of fame and worldly desires seems a little premature for Eilish to sing. After all, she has a lot of life left to live. But becoming insanely famous and having the public scrutinize her every action since she was a young teenager certainly has to be draining, especially along with preexisting stress that comes with other developmental things like puberty that every teen faces. In the spoken word interlude “Not My Responsibility,” Eilish talks about how people determine her worth and identity through their comments about her body. This, along with her big breakup and other themes of the album, seems to suggest that Eilish has lived through a hard and demanding last couple years. But the album is called “Happier Than Ever”…
In an interview with NPR, Eilish alluded to the fact that the name of her album was meant to be easy to remember and a representation of how she felt finding the right words to say as she wrote the album, but not necessarily the way she currently feels. The atmospheric nature of her voice and the instrumentation of the album might aid in validating the idea that being “happier than ever” is more of a dreamlike goal rather than a present reality for Eilish. The problem is, it seems she’s searching for happiness in things like sex and pornography rather than Christ, our One True source of happiness.
In this exit survey article from The Ringer, one writer calls the album “less exciting, but more honest,” and we think this is an accurate point. The question is, what is more important to Gen Z? It’s the age-old debate of whether they listen to music for the beat or the lyrics. We regularly reference authenticity as an incredibly valuable trait to Gen Z, and Eilish embraces it on the album, but will teens put a 3-and-a-half minute spoken word piece on their playlist and actively listen to it? Regardless of the answer, chances are your teen has heard some or all of “Happier Than Ever” and will continue to do so in the coming weeks, which means it’s important for you to hear it too. Take some time to listen to the album, then use the discussion questions below to start the conversation!
- Have you listened to the new album? Do you like it?
- What songs stuck out to you or resonated with your personal life? Why?
- Did you focus more on the lyrics or the music of this album?
- As you get older, what are some things you’re outgrowing or becoming newly interested in?
- What does it mean to be happy?