Billie Eilish is entering a new era in her ever-successful music career with her latest album Happier Than Ever, set to release July 30. The multi-award-winning Grammy artist traded in her black-and-green roots for a ‘50s glam platinum blonde and a sound that suits her new look.
Fear not, the sorrowful crooner’s signature whispers haven’t gone anywhere. Based on the singles we’ve heard so far—here’s looking at you “lost cause”—the new album will continue to highlight the star’s unique voice and showcase her vocals in a fresh way during this new era.
It would be remiss not to acknowledge the power Billie holds alongside her songwriting partner, producer, and brother Finneas O’Connell. Together, the two have brought ethereal vibes and pop bangers to the forefront of the charts in a matter of only a few years. It’s their tag-team creativity that allows Billie’s raw talent to shine among her fellow artists and the reason so many of her “best” songs have been streamed millions of times worldwide.
Yet, even the greatest artists have their flaws. As a loyal Billie stan, it’s hard for me to admit that the California native has any songs that can be labeled “worst.” She’s a once-in-a-lifetime gift to the music industry, in my fully biased opinion. Still, there are a few songs that are a little difficult to fall in love with—and one in particular that continues to draw ire several years after its release.
As we prepare our hearts and souls for Happier Than Ever, let’s take a moment to reflect on Billie Eilish’s five best (and worst) songs ever.
5. “bad guy”
While “copycat” wholeheartedly deserves recognition as the precursor to this song’s inevitable success, there’s no denying the chokehold “bad guy” has on the music industry. Not only did the song spend 49 weeks on the Billboard charts, it’s also Billie’s only #1 hit song. The deep bass and overarching weirdness that brings this song to life will forever change the way we think about pop music and the creativity artists can have when they break out of the traditional molds.
Perhaps a controversial pick for one of the best Billie songs, “lovely” (featuring Khalid) is a haunting ballad with chilling harmonies and a powerful message about mental health. The 2018 hit made an appearance on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why soundtrack and continues to prove it’s the powerful duet we deserve.
3. “i love you”
Hear me out—“i love you” isn’t a record-breaking hit like “bad guy,” nor is it a chart-topper like “everything i ever wanted.” In fact, it’s on the same heart-wrenching, yet overlooked level as “listen before i go,” which is exactly what makes it so powerful. It’s one of those classic Billie songs that any fan would agree deserves a spot on this list—and it’s the infamous ballad that left Eilish in tears during her 2019 New York concert.
I’ll be honest, I was torn to pieces choosing between “your power,” “when the party’s over,” and “bellyache” for the second best song on this list. Ultimately, Billie’s 2017 song won out. The power “bellyache” holds—the catchy, albeit violent, lyrics and incredibly unexpected tempo transition have a grasp that latches on and won’t let go. It’s even a popular sound on TikTok four years later, only attesting to the song’s everlasting “bestness.”
1. “ocean eyes”
Did you really think this would be a list of best Eilish songs without the one that skyrocketed her into fame? Her 2016 debut single is, without a doubt, still one of her best songs. The vocals, the words, the production. This song has quite literally everything you want in a pining romance song and more.
Even the so-called “worst” Eilish song is good. That’s never been more true than with “hostage.” Billie’s vocals are haunting and the song itself is so intense and passionate. But when compared to other Eilish songs, this one falls a bit flat.
4. “bitches broken hearts”
“B*tches broken hearts” is a banger—but it doesn’t compare to the plethora of other breakup songs Eilish has under her belt. It’s smooth and sultry with lyrics that so accurately portray these feelings of pain, but it ultimately doesn’t seem as passionate as songs like “listen before i go,” “watch,” and so many more.
Listen, putting this next song on the worst list pains me greatly, but in comparison with all her other songs, “goodbye” isn’t a strong stand-alone song. And it’s not meant to be—this track rounds out her album; a touch Billie adamantly wanted included. It’s one of the best on the album, in my personal opinion, but it doesn’t have the strength without the album to be as impactful as some of Billie’s other tunes.
2. “When I Was Older”
Inspired by 2018 film Roma, “When I Was Older” is an interesting foray into the world of autotune for Eilish. While experimentation isn’t a negative in and of itself, this song feels distinctly unusual with tons of sound layering—which is exactly what Eilish and her brother intended. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those songs that’s a hard skip for me. Sorry, don’t come for me.
1. “wish you were gay”
Akin to Katy Perry’s “Ur So Gay,” Eilish’s 2019 song “wish you were gay” drew heated criticism from the LGTBQ+ community after it was released. The backlash surrounded the initial marketing of the song, which fans hoped would be Billie’s coming out, as queer baiting. Others have argued the use of homosexuality in a way to be provocative was “cringey.” While Eilish believes the song has been misinterpreted and has since donated a portion of the song’s proceeds to the Trevor Project, it’s impossible to invalidate the feelings of a marginalized community that have stated otherwise, thus landing this song at the top of the worst list.
Marilyn La Jeunesse is a writer in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @mtlajeunesse.