Poetry and Music Pairings: Billie Eilish Edition
Since the emergence of breakout singles like “Ocean Eyes” and “You Should See Me in a Crown,” Billie Eilish’s music career continues to skyrocket. The seven-time Grammy winner’s latest album, Happier Than Ever, has amassed more than 2 billion streams on Spotify. Her songs explore topics like mental health, heartbreak, and coming of age, making her one of today’s most relatable artists. Fans of Eilish will love these poetry collections, which exhibit similar spunk and vulnerability.
1. Don’t Smile At Me and sad boy / detective by Sam Sax
Don’t Smile At Me introduced the world to Eilish with songs like “Bellyache” and “Lovely” featuring Khalid. When asked about the album’s themes, Eilish rejected traditional love song narratives, instead emphasizing the role of heartache and self-esteem. Similarly, Sam Sax’s sad boy / detective subverts expectations, turning the sonnet into a tool for self-reflection rather than romance. Within the collection, Sax scrutinizes himself in reference to the evolving and complex world around him. Eilish’s first album takes a like-minded, confessional journey through anxiety, growing up, and rumination.
2. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and Nocturnal by Wilder Poetry
Eilish’s second album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, carries its titular inspiration throughout most of the tracks. The singer’s experiences with night terrors, lucid dreaming, and insomnia shape the record, coloring songs with both dark whimsy and ambient, slow-building horror. Despite the intense themes included on When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?—including death and depression—Eilish laughs on the opening track and returns to this lightheartedness several times. Nocturnal, a striking visual collection from Wilder Poetry, chronicles “darkened days and sleepless nights,” with many of the works reflecting a dreamy, trance-like state.
3. Happier Than Ever and Swimming Lessons by Lili Reinhart
While Eilish’s earlier projects showcased her as an indie, emerging artist, Happier Than Ever is a first glimpse into how her life has been impacted by fame. The artist sings about predatory figures in the music business, NDAs, and harsh reviews from critics. Though this marks a transition for Eilish, she still delves into familiar themes of self-discovery and future ambitions. Swimming Lessons, written by Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart, also examines what it’s like to be under the spotlight, especially as a young woman. Like Eilish, Reinhart manages to both reflect on unique stardom and linger in relatable, universal themes.
Bonus: Eilish takes significant inspiration from dreams and the subconscious. To mirror Eilish’s influences in your own work, consider keeping a dream journal. Weave these insights into a poem.