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Billie Eilish's New Single 'bury a friend' is Deliciously Eerie

Bury a Friend Still
Billie Eilish in the music video for "bury a friend."

Seventeen-year-old indie-pop singer-songwriter Billie Eilish released a new single, “bury a friend,” to be featured on her upcoming album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” The single is very much in the vein of her recent songs “you should see me in a crown” and "when the party's over" due to their shared gothic sound and beat-heavy production. The L.A. native’s new song relies on tried and tested methods — heavy on synth melodies, voice modulations, and layered vocals — yet distinguishes itself through its much faster, more upbeat tempo and powerfully disturbing lyrics.

The beginning of the song sets the fast pace, with collaborator and rapper Crooks announcing Eilish’s name in a booming voice. The songs jumps pretty quickly into the first verses. The lyrics themselves are rather sparse and ambiguous, but unveil themselves to be a monologue told from the perspective of a persecuted or ostracized speaker — perhaps a monster hiding under the bed who does not quite understand the fear they inspire, as Eilish herself has suggested. But in fact, the song is more ironically concerned with teasing out the tormented thoughts of the creature: “Why do you care for me? / When we all fall asleep, where do we go?” At its heart, this is a nightmare brought to life.

Overall, the dark lyrics and strange phrases stir feelings of dread and sublimity that beg to be unpacked. There is much rumination on mortality, which is a significant theme in Eilish’s work: “Today, I'm thinkin' about the things that are deadly / The way I'm drinkin' you down / Like I wanna drown, like I wanna end me.” The images she conjures with these words are undeniably haunting, oddly contrasting with the slickness of her soprano voice.

What makes the song so catchy are its syncopated rhythms and the different sounds she plays around with. There are screeches and shrieks to punctuate verses. Like in other songs, Eilish uses ordinary sounds to correspond with the lyrics of the song. In this case, glass breaks, and a stapler is pressed to correspond to various lines. Eilish peppers the track with pauses as if to mirror the quick breaths of someone stuck in a panic, which keep the song from being too predictable. In recent interviews, Eilish has said that this single is the nucleus of the new album. While fans may have to wait another month for her album, they can relish in this deliciously eerie ballad in the meantime.

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—Staff writer Aline G. Damas can be reached at aline.damas@thecrimson.com.

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