Body and Intro by Meg McCarney
To celebrate Women's History Month, Penny contributors have sat down and written love letters to their favorite non-cismen in music. In the series' most recent entry, Meg wrote a love letter addressed to Billie Eilish.
Billie Eilish went from Internet phenom to bona fide queen of the pop genre seemingly overnight. Smash hits like "Bad Guy" (off of her debut album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?) elevated her to the top of the charts and saw her winning five Grammys, including the award for Best New Artist.
The past year has seen Eilish postpone her WHERE DO WE GO Tour due to COVID-19, but the singer has been putting her pandemic downtime to good use. For one, her recent collaboration with Rosalia, “Lo Vas a Olvidar,” soundtracked an episode of the HBO show, Euphoria. A documentary recounting Eilish’s rise to fame, titled Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry, debuted on Apple TV in February 2021 (watch the trailer below). Most notably, she also won her sixth and seventh Grammys, including the award for Record of the Year, on March 14, 2021. The future appears shockingly bright for Eilish, a young talent who shows no signs of slowing down.
Read Meg's letter below!
Something about having witnessed your meteoric rise to fame makes me feel old. I can’t believe how quickly it happened. I remember when the dont smile at me EP was the only full-length project you had to your name, how I glossed over its primary-colored cover whenever I selected music for my drive home from high school. My favorite track, “party favor,” was and is still relevant, particularly in an age where young women are continually objectified and rendered the property of others. Standing your ground isn’t something we’re actively told to do; we’re bred to be docile. Listening to that song, especially as I sorted out who I was and how I wanted to be treated in relationships, helped me find my voice. I turn back to it every time I need a sonic pep talk.
I remember when your Instagram handle was still @wherearetheavocados. I remember when finding someone who knew your music wasn’t an everyday occurrence; it was a rare moment that sparked excited, jumpy conversations over favorite songs and outfits. Now, of course, all of that seems like ancient history. You’re making pop music with a heartbeat on the national stage. You have a slime-green, middle-fingers-up aesthetic all your own. And, of course, there are those seven (!) Grammys.
I watched Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry and was humbled by how real you are. That feels like a silly thing to say — of course all celebrities are human, but they don’t show it like you do. They don’t hopelessly lay around their parents’ house, yawn in interviews, discuss suicidal thoughts, show pain and frayed nerves, or break down in tears upon seeing their own celebrity idol.
You’ve done so much already, before you’ve even entered your twenties. You’re going through all of the highs and lows young adults experience, but on the world stage in front of millions. I admire how you still put on a brave face, even as folks around you try to spin your narrative, control your time, and tell you who you are. I’m sure it hurts, but if it’s any consolation, you perform incredibly well under all of that pressure, as evidenced by all of your commercial success.
I think that success comes from the fact that listeners can very easily see themselves in you and your music. You don’t shy away from emotions. You don’t put yourself on a pedestal. Your persona isn’t self-righteous or one plagued by “rich person problems.” You let yourself be seen. Your music embraces and centers those oft-repeated, but always important, human universals: love, loss, fear, and insecurity. As much as you are, by the music industry’s standards, a cool girl now, you have no problem recalling moments when you felt like something much less. That vulnerability resonates in an unbelievable way. Maybe it has to do with your youth, maybe it’s your own awareness of what it feels like to be a music fan—either way, it’s appreciated.
If Women’s History Month is all about calling out the women who make us feel powerful, then it’s only fitting that I wrote a letter to you, Billie. Thank you for making honey-tinged music that sounds like sugar but feels like rebellion. Thank you for empathizing with us, offering your hand in solidarity, and using your platform to remind us of the universality of our pain. You make us all feel like cool girls.
Keep up to date with Billie!