Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award
District 65 School Board votes to close Dr. Bessie Rhodes School
Kathryn Hahn declares class of 2024 “worthy of celebration” in commencement address
Pro-Palestinian graduates walk out of 2024 Commencement Ceremony in solidarity with Gaza
‘Wildcats should have wild dreams:’ Nikki Okrah delivers optimistic 2024 Weinberg Convocation address
The Daily Explains: Contextualizing the Evanston reparations lawsuit
NU announces plans to prevent disruptions at commencement
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Tewaaraton Award

May 30, 2024

Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern falls 14-13 to No. 2 Boston College in national championship battle

May 26, 2024

Campus Kitchens fills plates and hearts

Why Club Sports at Northwestern?

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Liner Notes: Billie Eilish is a tortured popstar in ‘Hit Me Hard and Soft’

Illustration by Nineth Kanieski Koso
Billie Eilish released her third album, “Hit Me Hard and Soft,” on Friday.

In “Hit Me Hard and Soft,” Billie Eilish is a 22-year-old tortured popstar forced to endure heartbreak in the public eye. The 10-track album, released on Friday, is Eilish’s third and most experimental so far, with several beat switches and the loudest vocals she’s ever recorded.

If Olivia Rodrigo’s “GUTS” is for spiraling pop-punk teenage girls enraged by the tragedies of girlhood, Eilish’s “Hit Me Hard and Soft” is for the ones quietly grasping its horrors, losing themselves bit by bit to its twisted schemes.

In other words, the sounds are haunting, sultry and messy at times; But, as always, Eilish doesn’t shy away from redefining pop music.

In tracks like “Birds of a Feather” and “The Greatest,” Eilish sings about endless devotion to a nonchalant partner. In “Skinny” and “Chihiro,” she grapples with body image insecurities and the cages of celebrity.

The opening track, “Skinny,” is a gentle introduction to the album, with mellow guitar sounds in the background that are reminiscent of her Oscar-winning Barbie ballad, “What Was I Made For?” It’s the only song that feels like old Eilish, one I find myself missing throughout the album.

The lyrics are a raw glimpse into the struggles of stardom: Eilish softly sings, “When I step off the stage, I’m a bird in a cage.” She addresses public perception of her recent weight loss, singing, “People say I look happy / Just because I got skinny.”

In Eilish’s viral and catchy sapphic track “Lunch,” she raves about a girl who “tastes like she might be the one.” More than romance, Eilish wants to relish the girl she’s singing about. She writes, “It’s a craving, not a crush.”

The popstar spoke about her sexuality in an interview with Variety in November and has since talked about how she wishes coming out wasn’t a big deal.

“I just don’t really believe in it,” she told Variety. “I’m just like, ‘Why can’t we just exist’?”

Although “Birds of a Feather” feels like a giddy, summer bop where she bids adieu to her signature whispers, the lyrics aren’t all happy-go-lucky. Eilish sings about a lover she’ll love until death but says it won’t be too long until she dies. “It might not be long, but baby, I / I’ll love you ’til the day that I die.” The chorus features Eilish singing from her chest in a high-pitched voice — one of my favorite portions of the album.

“The Greatest,” like four other longer songs on the album, sits at about five minutes. The track is a rock ballad that starts out with simple strings and eventually builds up to a drum-driven moment of Eilish belting. Despite this, the song feels frustratingly stretched out. The heartbreaking lyrics discuss unrequited effort in a relationship but become angrier as the song progresses, and Eilish eventually declares, “I shouldn’t have to say it / You could’ve been the greatest.”

“L’Amour De Ma Vie,” French for “love of my life,” and “The Diner” are fun breaks in an otherwise serious album. “L’Amour De Ma Vie,” a song about Eilish’s ex-partner moving on, continues the pattern of beat changes mid-song, switching from an uneventful acoustic tune to an ’80s club banger right when Eilish sings, “Then you moved on.” The latter part of the song is a much more enjoyable listen, but the 5:33 length dissuades me from clicking repeat.

Eilish roleplays as a celebrity stalker in “The Diner,” singing “I’m here around the clock / I’m waitin’ on your block / But please don’t call the cops” — perhaps mocking the series of stalkers she placed restraining orders against in 2023.

In the closing track “Blue,” Eilish sings again about being unable to move on: “I thought we were the same / Birds of a feather, now I’m ashamed,” perhaps alluding to the same partner from track four. “Blue” is the longest song on the album and has the most variations. It starts with a pop-rock beat, switches to hip-hop and ends full circle with string sounds similar to those in “Skinny.” It’s rich, but there’s too much going on, making for a lackluster ending to the album.

Although the long, unpredictable beats on “Hit Me Hard and Soft” kept me listening, Eilish’s new sound feels confusing — even lost at times. The lyrics are impressive as Eilish maturely navigates a devastating heartbreak, unearths her sexuality and faces public scrutiny all at once. She successfully alters her horror-pop sound in a way that’s entertaining for all but strays too far from her original sound for my tastes.

The last line, recited in a speaking voice, perhaps accurately represents the way the album leaves me yearning for something that’s missing in the release.

“But when can I hear the next one?”

Email: [email protected]

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