In a very short time, Billie Eilish has taken over the world of pop music. The 17-year-old sensation amassed a huge following through her distinct music. Combining her soft voice with lyrics that swing from vulnerable to confident, Eilish’s music displays the kind of insecure bravado that defines teenage angst. With her unique fashion style and refreshingly weird presence, Eilish is a new take on the teen idol.
She is definitely not your parents’ or older siblings’ idea of a pop star. Turn up the volume: here are 25 illuminating facts about one of the hottest acts in pop music today.
Billie Eilish Facts
1. L.A. Lady
Billie Eilish’s full name is Billie Eilish Pirate (Yes, “Pirate”) Baird O’Connell. She was born on December 18, 2001, in Los Angeles, California to parents Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell. Eilish grew up in the artistic Highland Park neighborhood and was homeschooled. Well, that helps explain the weirdness.
2. Hometown Glory
At the age of eight, Billie Eilish joined the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. In an interview with Vogue, the singer explained, “That’s where I’ve gotten all my singing technique, even though it’s mostly choral stuff. It’s helped me learn the proper way to sing and not ruin my voice completely. But I’ve just always sung, all the time. I sang so much that my family had to shush me. Then I started writing when I was about 11.”
3. A Strong Sibling Relationship
Eilish has a close bond with her older brother Finneas O’Connell, who helps her write and produce music. Clearly, there’s something in the Eilish gene pool. Finneas O’Connell is a musician himself, releasing tunes under the moniker FINNEAS. You may also recognize the elder Eilish from acting gigs on television shows like Glee and Modern Family.
Discussing her collaborative relationship with her brother, Eilish stated, “He’s my partner in crime.” The two certainly seem close. Eilish says, “Any sessions that we have, we go together. We like the same stuff, and if we don’t like the same stuff, we can tell each other our opinions.” The family that makes catchy songs and creepy music videos together stays together, apparently.
4. Her Breakthrough Song
Billie Eilish’s first single was “Ocean Eyes,” a song written and produced by her brother Finneas. Eilish sent a recording to her dance teacher, who composed some choreography for the haunting song. The team uploaded the song to SoundCloud, and the rest is history. Eilish’s jaw dropped: the tune went viral and she became an overnight sensation.
Through “Ocean Eyes,” Eilish landed a deal with Interscope Records and their Darkroom imprint. They re-released the song, which led it to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually receive platinum certification. Oh, and did we mention that all this happened when Eilish was only 15 years old?
5. Hitting the Road for the First Time
At the ripe old age of 17, Eilish embarked on her first major tour, titled Where’s My Mind. While living life on the road, the pop star performed concerts throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada. If that sounds like a heavy order, Eilish was just getting started. In 2019, Eilish made her Coachella debut and performed at the UK’s iconic Glastonbury Festival. You know, the one where they shot that scene for A Star Is Born? Yeah, that super small, not at all intimidating venue.
6. A Holiday Gift
For Christmas 2018, Billie Eilish teamed up with Apple for a special animated commercial. The three-minute clip, entitled “Share Your Gifts,” featured a heartwarming story of a young woman overcoming her reluctance to share her artistic talents to the world. Appropriately, the short film featured the song, “come out and play,” which Eilish wrote and performed.
7. Her Major Influences
Eilish lists Lana Del Rey as one of her key musical influences, specifying Del Rey’s unique and wide-ranging vocal delivery on the track “Off to the Races” as particularly inspirational. Eilish also listed The Beatles, Avril Lavigne, Green Day, and the Biebs himself, Justin Bieber, as prominent inspirations.
8. Learn With Billie
In August 2019, Eilish joined forces with Apple once again, but this time, she raised the stakes. Eilish announced that she’s taking part in the company’s Music Lab program. After enrolling in free classes, students will use GarageBand and the Eilish song “you should see me in a crown” to learn audio production methods and remix tracks. Eilish herself recorded a video that helps participants navigate the workshop.
9. Creepy Friends
Eilish recently teamed up with controversial Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Murakami designed a limited run of merchandise for Eilish and directed the animated music video for her song “you should see me in a crown.” Murakami also photographed Eilish for the pretty creepy, if we’re being honest, cover of GARAGE magazine.
10. An Ethical, but Adventurous Eater
Billie Eilish is vegan and often uses social media to endorse veganism and ethical eating choices to her fans. Not eating meat, however, did not prevent Eilish from appearing on the popular YouTube show Hot Ones, where host Sean Evans interviews celebrities as they eat wings with progressively spicier hot sauces.
For Eilish’s appearance, interviewer and interviewee munched on plant-based nuggets. Eilish went on to complete the hot sauce challenge, including the infamous “Last Dab” sauce that clocks in at 2,000,000 on the Scoville scale. Thus the moral of the story: don’t mess with vegans, guys. They’re on another level.
11. A Smash Hit…Duh!
Eilish’s biggest hit to date is “Bad Guy,” off her debut album. The catchy song, which features a minimalist tune and some hilariously sarcastic lyrics, became an instant hit and topped the charts all over the world. “Bad Guy” peaked at number two on the US and UK charts, as the song was seemingly stuck on the “Old Town Road.”
12. Don’t Tell Me To Smile
In 2019, Eilish appeared in a Calvin Klein advertising campaign entitled “I Speak My Truth in #MyCalvins.” Her 30-second ad sees Eilish candidly explain her fashion choices. But no Eilish outfit is complete without one iconic element: Eilish’s “don’t freak with me” facial expression. Have you ever noticed that Eilish doesn’t smile for photos? That’s intentional.
The pop star explained, “I hate smiling. It makes me feel weak and powerless and small…But you know how when you’re walking down the street and somebody smiles at you? You’re forced to smile back, that’s the polite response. It’s like you have no control over it. If I don’t smile back you’re gonna think I’m horrible.”
So if you run into Eilish, remember not to smile at her. In her own words, “If you don’t smile at me, we’re good. You can go on with your day.”
13. Her Record-Breaking Debut Album
Eilish released her debut album, When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? on March 29, 2019. It was a massive success, topping the charts all over the world. She became the first artist to be born in the 2000s to top the charts in the US. The release of the album also helped set the record for most songs to simultaneously chart on the Hot 100 with 14. Dang.
14. A Fan of Scranton’s Finest
Eilish is a big fan of the television series The Office. She’s even watched the entire series a dozen times. On her recently released debut album, she sampled audio clips from the episode “Threat Level Midnight” where Michael Scott writes and directs an original movie about the heroic “Michael Scarn” (it’s so good, guys).
The song “My Strange Addiction” features lines from The Office throughout. While other pop singers would write a song about their strange addictions (referring to love interests), we guess that Eilish used the song to express her undying love for a TV show. To each their own, Billie. To each their own.
15. A Noble Message
Lots of pop stars struggle with substance abuse. Eilish is determined to walk a different path. The young pop star actually abstains from doing drugs or smoking. It’s a topic she explores in the song “Xanny”—a reference to Xanax, a drug used to treat anxiety that is commonly used recreationally.
Eilish recognizes the prevalence of recreational drugs amongst her generation and cohort of young artists. She explained to The Guardian that the overall message of “Xanny” is “less ‘don’t do drugs’; it’s more ‘be safe.’” Her viewpoint is shaped by losing many friends to improper drug use.
16. Speaking Out About Mental Health
Eilish is open about her struggles with depression. She recently took part in an Ad Council campaign that encouraged people to be forthcoming with their mental health issues. The campaign, entitled “Seize the Awkward,” was released in May 2019 as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. As Eilish said, “It doesn’t make you weak to ask for help…It doesn’t make you weak to ask for a friend to go to a therapist.” Wise words.
17. Taking a Stand
While Eilish loves performing in Atlanta, Georgia, she doesn’t love the state’s politics. Georgia recently passed a law that makes terminating a pregnancy after six weeks illegal. Eilish, who still wanted to give her Georgia fans a show, figured out a brilliant compromise. She donated some of her earnings to Planned Parenthood, urged her fans to do the same, and shared a petition to end the restrictive law.
18. Unique Voice Garners Celeb Fans
Critics adore Eilish’s distinctive sound. Describing her unique vocal style as “ethereal,” “whispery,” and a “husky, slurring voice that she can thin out at the ready,” Eilish’s admirers include Demi Lovato, Elton John, and Britney Spears–but that doesn’t even include her most famous admirer. Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts gave an interview where she whispered “Billie Eilish is everything.” When they met, Roberts shared a picture on Instagram. Aww.
19. Coming to a Runway Near You
Eilish is venturing outside of music. In October 2018, she signed a modeling contract with Next Models.
20. True Belieber
Even though Eilish is a record-breaking artist who tours around the world, she’s still a normal Gen-Z kid at heart. This perhaps explains her infatuation with fellow singer Justin Bieber. On a radio show, she said, “That was like my first love. That was the person I was in love with, in my head he was in love with me, it was like a relationship with a person.”
She finally met Bieber at Coachella in 2019 and her starstruck reaction was really cute and endearing. The two later teamed up on a remix of her hit single “Bad Guy.”
21. Recognized as a Groundbreaking Young Artist
In 2018, Forbes’ prestigious “30 Under 30” placed Billie Eilish on their Music list. Other members of the distinguished group included Camila Cabello, Post Malone, Lil’ Pump (RIP), and Lauren Jauregui.
22. For the Love of Footwear
Eilish lived out a unique fantasy when she appeared on a niche YouTube show. Eilish’s inner sneakerhead emerfed on an episode of Sneaker Shopping. Eilish toured the sneaker boutique Stadium Goods in New York City with host Joe La Puma as they talked about her love of footwear. She revealed that she got into classic sneakers through the Riff Raff song “Tip Toe Wing in My Jawwdinz.”
During her appearance, Eilish also lived large. The young pop star spent $2,388.72 on three pairs of Nike/Off-White collaboration sneakers. She picked up a pair each of the Blazers, the Air Force Ones, and the Hyperdunks.
23. A Style of Her Own
Eilish is known for a rather unique fashion style that incorporates bold colors and baggy clothing. On her sartorial choices, Eilish explained to Harper’s Bazaar, “I just like dressing out of my comfort zone. I want to dress in a way that if I was in a room full of people wearing regular clothes, I would be like, ‘Oh, I bet everyone’s looking at me.’ I want to feel that way. That’s my casual.”
However, in an ad campaign for Calvin Klein, Eilish revealed a darker reason for her bold outfits. She said that baggy clothing helped shield her from body shaming and being sexualized as a young woman in the music industry. Well played, Billie. We wish things were different, but at least she’s thinking about how to navigate the system as it is.
24. Controversial Platform
Every music icon cuts their teeth on teen dramas. Do you remember when The Killers and Death Cab For Cutie appeared on The O.C.? It’s practically a rite of passage. Billie Eilish is thus following her noble musical foremothers and fathers in appearing on the soundtrack of today’s hot teen drama. In a controversial choice, her music ended up on the scandalous Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. The show used the pop star’s song “bored” and her collaboration with Khalid, “lovely.”
25. Dealing With a Neurological Disorder
On an Instagram post from late 2018, Eilish revealed her struggles with Tourette syndrome—the neurological disorder that causes involuntary verbal or physical tics. Eilish felt like she had to open up about her condition after many compilation videos of her physical tics appeared online.
While she may have been pressured into revealing her private struggle, everything worked out in the end. When Eilish appeared on Ellen, she discussed how talking about her syndrome had a positive impact. It turns out that a lot of Eilish’s fans also experience the disorder. Hearing her discuss it helped them feel less alone.