We are currently experiencing technical issues with some of our video content. If you are unable to access a video, please email [email protected] for help.

The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

Never miss a thing!

21.02.2020

Teen Spirit – The Billie Eilish Way

‘Thank you to my best friends Drew and Zoe for keeping me alive to this day.’ So spoke Billie Eilish in one of her five (!) winner’s speeches at January’s Grammys. It didn’t sound like a joke. It didn’t sound like hyperbole. It sounded like the truth.

And it is this very truthfulness, combined with a great deal of musical talent, that seems to have propelled Eilish to global stardom at 18, after just one album, winning the International Female Solo Artist award at Monday’s Brits, and becoming the youngest ever singer of a Bond theme.

Her songs explore, amongst other things, her depression, her anxiety, her suicidal thoughts, her jealousy, her disdain of machismo, and her fantasies of control. And they do so without a smidgen of self-pity or sentimentality or posturing. It’s a compelling blend of fragility and intensity, of woundedness and defiance, of sharp wit and sometimes disturbing, though not self-indulgent weirdness.

But at low volume.

Eilish’s whispered, sometimes mumbled words are no less emotionally powerful for not being boomed out at Adele-like volume. Indeed, her pared-back vocal style, her creative phrasing, the simplicity and originality of the musical production, and her avoidance of the glitzy tropes of pop divadom all contribute to an authenticity which not only resonates with her own generation, but has showered her with the plaudits of older ones.

After all, you don’t need to be a soldier to engage with the Davidic psalms and their oh-so-frequent references to enemies and lethal threat. And you don’t need to be a teenager to engage with Eilish’s laments about anxiety, low self-worth, and self-destructive passion. As with the psalms, there is comfort to be found in knowing that someone understands, that someone else has been in the dark places you find yourself. And can’t seem to find a way out.

Eilish’s excellent work is made more sobering by the reality that she sings not only of what she knows, but of what so many young people experience every day – and may be concealing behind similarly inscrutable faces. In the context of our mental health crisis, her popularity is yet another reminder of our need for eyes to see, ears to hear, and songs to sing – not just of human understanding, but, like David’s, of divine hope.

 

Mark Greene
Executive Director, LICC

Photo credit: © Lars Crommelinck Photography

Author

Mark Greene

Comments

  1. Sounds as though goth subculture is back in fashion.

    By Alfred  -  21 Feb 2020
  2. It’s over 40 years since theologian Jim Packer lamented that for centuries there had been a lack of teaching on the Doctrine of Adoption in the Church. Could there ever be better Good News for any generation (especially a Fatherless one) than the experiential reality that through Jesus we become ‘Kids of the King’?

    By Peter Riley  -  21 Feb 2020
  3. Thank you for your posts I am encouraged every day. Janette

    By Janette Gulleford  -  21 Feb 2020
  4. Thank you Mark, a sobering reality that we as church must connect with every generation. Talking to a friend the other day the issue of loneliness is no longer only associated with the elderly. We are created for true relationship with God, self and others but in this transactional world the ability to connect and be ‘present’ is being lost. Thankfully there is a solution!

    By Karen Kircher  -  21 Feb 2020
  5. Thanks Mark. Appreciate the insights into why she’s having such an impact. And I like the low key pointer to divine hope too…

    By Bruce Gulland  -  21 Feb 2020
  6. Thanks. I am of a generation that does not do ‘pop’. Never heard of this singer until the other day. It would have been good to read the lyrics that you comment so knowingly of. I will try and find them.

    By Rev Baz  -  21 Feb 2020

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

X