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  • Karlee Skipper

Album Review: "HIT ME HARD AND SOFT" - Billie Eilish

Photo: Billie Eilish - HIT ME HARD AND SOFT via https://store.billieeilish.com/


Billie Eilish is a musical phenomenon. She took the world by storm in 2019 with her debut full-length album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The album’s success earned her five Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist and Album of the Year. From that moment, everyone knew that Eilish was one to watch. Each new release is highly anticipated and her latest album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT is no exception. Her third record has already been deemed a fan favorite by many listeners, containing 10 tracks that showcase a new side of Eilish that has not yet been heard.

 

Track List

SKINNY

LUNCH

CHIHIRO

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

WILDFLOWER

THE GREATEST

L’AMOUR DE MA VIE

THE DINER

BITTERSUITE

BLUE

 

SKINNY

Eilish kicks off the album with a hauntingly beautiful ballad that delves into the singer’s insecurities and her experience with body image and growing up in the spotlight. Throughout “SKINNY”, her profound lyrics give the listener insight into the inner workings of the singer’s mind. Being in the limelight, the media and the general public think it is acceptable to comment on the appearance of others. In the first verse, she mentions the song’s title for the only time: “People say I look happy// Just because I got skinny// But the old me is still me and maybe the real me// And I think she’s pretty.” She has noticed public opinion on her and the way she is treated has changed based on her looks. But she is the same person she always was. As she continues in the song, she utilizes clever metaphors to reference her experience with feeling trapped in a cage, accompanied by the sound of a crowd screaming at a concert, or being in a controlling, power imbalanced relationship. “SKINNY” gives the listener an opportunity to know where Eilish’s headspace is before she delves into nine more tracks that explore her life in the past three years since her last album.



LUNCH

“LUNCH” is an incredibly infectious track that immediately enthralls the listener and makes them want to dance along. Eilish utilizes a unique production choice that she used on previous albums, where the beat began at the end of “SKINNY’ and continued into “LUNCH”. She utilized this on her first album when “bury a friend” transitioned into “ilomilo”. Eilish continuously creates songs that keep the listener on their toes. Her albums are not just a simple collection of songs, but a cohesive masterpiece that is made to be played in order. Eilish first teased snippets of “LUNCH” at Coachella 2024, giving her listeners a glimpse into the album. The catchy song is her first outwardly queer song since coming out within the past year. Regarding the song, she told Rolling Stone it helped her understand her sexuality and identity better. With the cheeky lyrics and bouncy production, “LUNCH” is on its way to becoming the song of the summer.



CHIHIRO

The third track has such an abstract and unique soundscape that is simultaneously very different from other Eilish songs while also maintaining her distinctive experimental sounds that fans initially fell in love with. “CHIHIRO” is a reference to the 2003 film, Spirited Away. Much like the movie, the track contains an ethereal element that takes the listener to another world as they immerse themselves in the song. Throughout the track, she continuously makes references to the namesake, bringing excitement to fans of the film. Meanwhile, Eilish showcases her stunning vocals alongside psychedelic build-ups that float the audience into orbit. The song ends with an intense production explosion that suddenly cuts off, followed by one final vocalization to stun listeners.



BIRDS OF A FEATHER

“BIRDS OF A FEATHER” is another song distinctively different from all other music she has released. The soft, indie-pop instrumentation with an upbeat melody instantly caught my attention. Throughout the song. Eilish showcases her vocal range, showing a different side that she has not utilized before. Rather than her soft, airy vocals, her voice was more rounded and fuller, showing that she can sing any style and genre. The song discusses a relationship that is perfectly made. She uses the popular idiom: “Birds of a feather flock together.” She is telling her muse that their similarities are what makes them perfect for each other. The unforgettable soundscape, stunning vocals, and sweet lyrics are what made “BIRDS OF A FEATHER” my initial favorite track.



WILDFLOWER

“WILDFLOWER” is another incredible track that contains elements of indie-rock, folk, and pop, making it one of my favorite instrumentations of the album. Alongside the emotionally charged production, Eilish shares her experience of comforting a girl after a break-up, only to get together with her ex. The singer describes the guilt and shame she holds in the back of her mind, and her inability to stop thinking about the girl she is betraying. The song starts soft, lulling the listener into a sense of serenity and comfort before the song builds into an intense, passionate soundscape that showcases her desperation and anxiety. At the end of the final chorus, the guitar strums indicate the ending of the song. However, after a few seconds, the guitar returns, and Eilish’s stunning vocals use an empty hallway reverb effect to repeat the vulnerable bridge, bringing an emphasis to the heart-wrenching lyrics. This second ending to the song is another classic Eilish production, always leaving listeners guessing.



THE GREATEST

As a lover of gut-wrenching break-up songs and soft, folk-rock style soundscapes, “THE GREATEST” is another song that caught my attention from my first listen. Eilish delves into a relationship where she was constantly giving and her partner was constantly taking. There was an imbalance in their dynamic, and she was constantly putting in more effort. She introduces this idea immediately with the lyrics: “I’m trying my best to keep you satisfied// Let you get your rest while I stayed up all night.” She was constantly making sacrifices for the subject, while they wouldn’t even bat an eye. In the chorus, she sings the tongue-in-cheek hook, “Man, am I the greatest?” She knows she is worth more than she is being treated. In the outro, she repeats this and follows up with, “God, I hate it// All my love and patience// Unappreciated.” She has finally given up on this person and is not afraid to showcase her resentment toward their selfishness and apathy. She ends the song with a twist on the hook: “I shouldn’t have to say it// You could’ve been the greatest.” She tells her subject that if they had put in an effort and treated her the way she deserved, they could’ve been the greatest too. Their love could have been epic, but instead, they fell short of this feat. “THE GREATEST” is not only my favorite song on the album, but also one of my top Eilish tracks ever due to its complex lyrics and powerful production.



L’AMOUR DE MA VIE

“L’amour de ma vie” is the French translation of the phrase, “The love of my life.” However, Eilish uses this phrase as a sarcastic ode to her ex-partner, stating that they are no longer the love of her life—or perhaps they never were but she definitely was theirs. She conveys a tone that displays this cheeky attitude. The first half of the song has a steady coffee shop production that effortlessly guides the listener through the song. Then, with only two minutes left, the soundscape transitions to a sudden change in the iconic Eilish fashion. The music turns into a dance-pop, electro production with heavy vocal effects. This instrumentation is the exact opposite of the first half’s natural instrumentals. Listeners are shocked by this change and intrigued by Eilish and Finneas’s unique musical composition that does not stick to one genre.



THE DINER

“THE DINER” takes another page from Eilish’s past releases. Similar to “bellyache” from her EP, don’t smile at me, which shares the narrative of a murderer, “THE DINER” is from a stalker’s perspective. However, while “bellyache” is a fictional story, the new song is about the singer’s experience with stalkers. Unfortunately, an aspect of being in the limelight is being stalked and threatened by strangers, some who believe they are in a relationship with the celebrity. Eilish steps into their shoes and describes their delusions. Throughout the song, there is an effect on her vocals that makes them seem distant, emulating a stalker looking in from a distance. They want to get closer, but they are kept away, maybe due to a restraining order or a large security fence. However, this does not stop them and things only progress. After Eilish sings the lyrics in the bridge: “I saw you in the car with someone else and couldn’t sleep// If something happens to him, you can bet that it was me,” sirens can be heard in the background, bringing the story to life. “THE DINER” serves as a reminder to fans that there is a fine line between being a devoted supporter and an obsessive stalker. It is a cautionary tale to remind them to not let the parasocial relationship drive them to extremes.



BITTERSUITE

The title of the ninth track is a play on the word “bittersweet.” The song is very different from anything she and Finneas have ever written, from the unique sections of different instrumentations to the style of music. “Bittersuite” is incredibly abstract and was an experimental track for the power collaborating siblings. There were times throughout the song that I had not realized I was listening to the same track because of just how distinct each section was. Toward the end of the vocal section of the multilayered track, Eilish sings, “L’amour de ma vie// Love so bittersweet/Open up the door for me.” While the middle line utilized this song’s title for the only time, the first line recalls the previous track of the name, and the last line was a lyric from “CHIHIRO”.  This is not the first time she has done something like this. On her debut album, her final track “goodbye” referenced each song in reverse order. It is a unique addition that I have not heard any other artist do, and it brings me joy to hear Eilish do it again.



BLUE

Continuing with the references to previous songs on the album, “BLUE” upholds this clever process. In the verse, she references “BIRDS OF A FEATHER”, “L”AMOUR DE MA VIE”, “THE GREATEST”, “CHIHIRO”, “WILDFLOWER”, “BITTERSUITE, “SKINNY, and “LUNCH”. Since not every one of these songs are referenced directly by title, it takes a few listens or read-through of the lyrics to grasp this. However, once you do, you cannot unhear it. And it becomes something lodged in your mind. Eilish has once again ended her album with an ingenious nod to all the songs on the album, wrapping the entire project up in one final, neat bow.


 

HIT ME HARD AND SOFT is another flawless addition to Eilish’s stunning discography, showing off a new side of herself while simultaneously calling back to her roots. Rather than erring on the side of caution and making radio-friendly tracks, the singer has delivered songs that are authentically her and what she enjoys. This is one of my favorite aspects about Eilish. Instead of catering to the general public, she releases what she finds relatable and interesting. This is what initially drew her fans to the artist. From her unique aesthetics to everchanging, nonconforming sounds, Eilish has once again proven her absolute stardom.


Written By Karlee Skipper



*copyright not intended. Fair use act, section 107.

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