“Explore Eilish’s personal experience as a young woman in the public eye and the wider female experience, including misogyny, autonomy and empowerment“
Billie Eilish, the 19-year-old American singer/songwriter and international sensation, has officially announced that her eagerly anticipated second album titled ‘Happier Than Ever’, will be released on the 30th of July. This project will be the follow up to the critically acclaimed and exceedingly commercially successful debut ‘When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ (2019) which went platinum or multi-platinum in 17 countries around the world and catapulted Eilish to astounding levels of global fame and recognition.
This 16-track second album will once again be a joint writing and production project with Eilish’s older brother FINNEAS, with the siblings spending the past year in lockdown creating new material together. Eilish has honed her writing skills and learned to produce. Eilish has stated ‘this is my favourite thing I’ve ever created…I’ve never felt so much love for a project that I do for this one’ and has also interestingly commented that ‘I don’t think I would’ve made the same album, or even the album at all, if it weren’t for COVID’.
The singer’s team have been ingeniously using PR stunts and the media to promote this new musical era in Eilish’s career, projecting the album artwork onto famous landmarks, such as London’s Marble Arch.
Eilish has also “broken the internet” twice lately. Her British Vogue cover shot for the June 2021 issue, posted on her Instagram account, received 1 million likes in under 6 minutes, breaking the platforms record, which she set herself just the month before with a photo of her newly dyed blonde hair, signalling a new era with a clear departure from her previously edgy and dark image and is now the 3rd most liked photo on Instagram with 22.9 million likes currently. These may just sound like trivial social media stats that would only interest Instagram obsessed teenagers, but the importance of social media presence for an artist can’t be underestimated contemporarily.
At still only 19, Eilish and her team have constructed one of the most powerful and influential celebrity brands around currently, all this without the decades-spanning careers that the other most liked and most powerful social media stars have enjoyed, such as Beyoncé and the Kardashians. Eilish interestingly commented on the influence of celebrities recently, saying ‘nobody should be given the power we’re given’. It has been obvious throughout her short but undeniably successful career that she is somewhat uncomfortable in the limelight and with being idolised and sexualised. Yet Eilish has chosen to step into the spotlight in a way she knew would garner international attention all to promote an important message.
Eilish has utilised this Vogue shoot and interview to reclaim her power and ‘challenge misogynistic narratives around women and the way they dress’ (British Vogue, 2021), stating that she was formerly anxious about showing her skin, being sexualised and branded with derogatory terms. She has now decided to switch this narrative, embrace her sexuality and flaws.
The shoot sees an obvious removal from her trademark look of bright and bold baggy clothes, green and black hair and bucket hats. The stunning photos display Eilish with her new platinum blonde hair, confidently posing in a series of nude toned custom corsets by top fashion houses such as Gucci, Burberry and Alexander McQueen, redefining the corset in a rejection of patriarchal beauty standards.
Billie Eilish can do whatever she likes with her own body, and we should all do what makes us feel good. She has risen above the backlash from the body positive movement for wearing corsets which alter the body shape and for the derogatory comments used on social media.
In an Instagram caption for one of the photos Eilish writes ‘I love these photos and I loved doing this shoot. Do whatever you want whenever you want’ (@billieeilish). She has reclaimed autonomy over her body and refuses to let the industry or society dictate her image or her actions, a commendable and brave statement from an artist absorbed in the celebrity lifestyle from such a young age and with such an instantly recognisable public image. She is actively rejecting being defined by one brand image and is demanding respect for deciding to change it up. Eilish meant to “break the internet” with an influential message of body positivity and self-governance and she has achieved just that.
The publication of the British Vogue shoot coordinates nicely with Eilish’s new musical release, another single from the impending second album, following up from singles ‘Therefore I Am’ and ‘my future’. The haunting ballad titled ‘Your Power’ continues the narrative of misogyny and autonomy over the body, exploring Eilish’s personal experience of abuse. She predicted this would gain criticism when viewed alongside the displaying of her body in the shoot, to which she has rightly declared that showing skin is absolutely no excuse for abuse.
If we are to view the new single and the photoshoot together, it’s possible ‘Happier Than Ever’ will further explore Eilish’s personal experience as a young woman in the public eye and the wider female experience, including misogyny, autonomy and empowerment. Eilish is the singer of a Bond theme, a British Vogue cover star and a 7-time Grammy winner in just 2 years, all at the tender age of 19. There is no doubt that the world is watching in great anticipation for this album.
Words: Leila McGrorty