Great songwriters will tell you how often songs become prophetic. I had this conversation with artists like Jackson Browne, Nick Cave and many others. You write a song and years later find out how true and relevant it is to your life.
Apparently, from time to time, this also happens in journalism. In November 2018, after seeing Billie Eilish at the Fonda in LA, I wrote an article called “Inside The Powerful And Inspiring Billie Eilish Phenomenon” (I’m still very proud of this article because she shared it on the networks social media at the time, saying, “This is the first criticism that really touches me.”)
I believed everything I wrote that night about the special and unique bond between Eilish and her fans. But I admit, watching Eilish last night (April 8) at the second of her three sold-out parties at the Forum in Los Angeles, I realized I had no idea how true this November review was. 2018.
We all know the statistics. Since then, Eilish has won 8,224 Grammy awards, including Record Of The Year twice in a row, Album Of The Year, Best New Artist, “Queen Of The Universe”, “Best Polka Album Ever Made”, and so on ( actually it’s seven wins and 17 nominations and there’s no grammy for the queen of the universe and i don’t know who made the best polka album of all time) she won an oscar for “No Time To Die,” his song for the James Bond movie of the same name, titled Coachella, has been on countless magazine covers.
However, just like I said in the November 2018 review of his billion and more streams at the time, that only tells a small part of the story. Watching Eilish give her 95-minute masterclass in stage presence and crowd control, all the awards and accolades seem insignificant.
Of course, winning all those Grammys gives her credibility with the music industry and parents who had never heard of her. But when you see the thousands of young girls screaming all the lyrics with her, who live and die with every breath she takes between songs, who chant not only her name, but her brother’s name, rightfully shouting FINNEAS during the group intro, they don’t care if Eilish wins a Grammy, Oscar, Pulitzer, Nobel, or Olympic medal.
She is their queen. From the opening “Bury A Friend” to the next 27 songs, they are his faithful subjects. Seeing the evolution from 2018 to today is shocking. His mastery of the stage is almost unparalleled. From her smirks to her stage jokes, she ruled the building as if she had been headlining arenas for as long as Mick Jagger, not for just three years, two of which included Covid.
During filming, I was struck by the fact that parents everywhere should thank everyone they thank that Eilish uses her power for good. And I mean she uses it for good, whether it’s telling the crowd to think positive thoughts and not care what other people think or having the iconic Forum Club – LA’s top VIP spot and pre- and post-show industry gathering place – serving nothing but vegan food, including dinner, desserts, everything. Because if she wanted to use her powers for evil, there would be millions of teenage girls ready to take over the world at her behest.
This, to me, remains the most interesting and inspiring part of Eilish’s story. Musically, there were several highlights. The “Billie Bossa Nova”, the acoustic set, including her and FINNEAS on “I Love You”, “My Strange Addiction”, “Oxycontin”, “Bad Guy”, “You Should See Me In a Crown”, and more others . The versatility that she and FINNEAS, who ultimately might very well be the best producer/writer of his generation (and the dynamic between them is incredibly special to see), is remarkable. And that explains why they received so much critical acclaim and won all these awards.
But it’s the effect she has on a generation of fans that further shines a light on the Eilish phenomenon. Last night, thinking back to my review, I kept thinking about how unprecedented this success was. Then I realized there were parallels and a guy in it told you, we just weren’t listening.
Dave Grohl said of Eilish in an interview with The Independent“When I see fucking Billie Eilish, that’s rock ‘n’ roll to me. She started a revolution and took over the world.”
Finally it dawned on me this morning. The Eilish move is akin to what Nirvana did in the 90s, which Grohl himself said. Before bitch, I don’t compare the two. I liken the movement though, which saw a young artist go from playing in 2,000-seater clubs to headlining the world in less than four years. And galvanized a generation.
So many pundits have said there will never be another unifying force in music like Nirvana, that music is too fragmented for that. But they haven’t or won’t see what’s going on right now, maybe because instead of a band, she’s a 20-year-old solo woman. But this 20-year-old woman has already changed your daughter’s life the way Nirvana, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Madonna or others have.
She awakened them to the power of music, to the power of fandom, to the incredible feeling of having an artist who you feel speaks for you and speaks for you. And I’m willing to bet that after interviewing them both, Eilish and FINNEAS will tell you that knowing you’ve ignited a new generation of fans’ passion for rock and roll is the greatest reward of all.