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Countdown to the Album of the Year, #3- “Happier Than Ever”

Prior to the album release, in November of 2020, Billie Eilish’s single “Therefore I Am” came out which is the fourteenth track on the album. The phrase “I think, therefore I am” is the translation of the Latin phrase “cogito, ergo sum,” as coined by French philosopher René Descartes. The song is a play on the phrase and is about people who try to use Billie Eilish’s name for influence/fame and for them to stop doing so as she is “not [their] friend.”

The harsh and melancholic tone of “Happier Than Ever” provides a very blunt, extremely personal message. The album covers weighty topics such as body image, existentialism, the darker side of fame, toxic relationships, and loss of innocence in many aspects of the term. 

The album starts with “Getting Older,” in which she sings about getting older and the responsibility that comes with it. The whole album seems to be part of a slight reinvention of Billie Eilish. She addresses her past trauma and acknowledges it, not only in this song but throughout the whole album.

The second track on the album, “I Didn’t Change My Number.” In contrast to the soft, quiet sound of “Getting Older,” this second track sounds similar to tracks on Eilish’s previous album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” The sound of the songs on the album tend to vary between the vibe of the first two songs, switching between a jazz-pop and electro-pop.

Song, “my future,” starts with reflecting on her past, having a gloomy tone, and later taking a sharp turn towards a happier tone after the first chorus. The song addresses the consensus that one is supposed to be unhappy or in love. Without a significant other, you can’t be happy and in the song she speaks of being “in love with [her] future” and wanting to “get to know [her]self.”

The brief interlude, “Not My Responsibility” is a short monologue where she discusses the objectification of women and the effect of the public’s constant scrutinization of her based on her body image. 

Preceding the release of her album and thus “Not My Responsibility,” Eilish did an interview with Vogue as well as being on the cover of the June 2021 issue of British Vogue. In the cover, her look strays significantly from the normally baggy ensembles she wears. In the interview she asks a rhetorical question which is one of the points of “Not My Responsibility,” saying “If you’re about body positivity, why would you wear a corset? Why wouldn’t you show your actual body?”

The album-titled song, “Happier Than Ever,” reflects on a relationship, and the soft, quiet beginning, takes a sharp contrast during the second and third verse, providing a powerful and cathartic release of feelings bottled up about the relationship. 

Overall, the album portrays a myriad of powerful and very personal topics. It is definitely a lengthy album, but each song is full of meaning and the mix of pop-punk and jazzy ballads means that there is a song for everyone.

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