Every Billie Eilish Song Ranked From Worst To Best
#2. 'bad guy'.
In April last year, which feels like 35 years ago, Billie Eilish released her debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?.
The album, spearheaded by four excellent singles including ‘bury a friend’ and ‘bad guy’, would go on to be one of the biggest and most acclaimed of the year, snapping up a stack of Grammys including Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album — with ‘bad guy’ winning Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Closer to home, Eilish became the first solo female artist ever to win triple j’s Hottest 100 with ‘bad guy’.
In short, she’s had a great run — and at just 18 years old, Eilish now has a back catalogue that would be the envy of anyone in music. But which of her tracks reigns supreme? Is it the all-conquering ‘bad guy’? Or the soft and tender ‘when the party’s over’? Without further messing around, let’s dive in.
— Content Warning: This article discusses suicidal ideation. —
Maybe one of the only ‘songs’ to include a reference to ‘Invisalign’.
A song about as relaxing as nails down a chalkboard, or a ukulele being set on fire.
#29. ‘wish you were gay’
An otherwise boring song that is made more clunky by the awkward messaging of the title and chorus. “I can’t tell you how much I wish I didn’t wanna stay/ I just kinda wish you were gay,” she sings. She defended herself against the backlash, saying that she didn’t mean for ‘gay’ to be an insult — but it remains awkward nonetheless.
#28. ‘come out and play’
Written for an Apple holiday campaign, ‘come out and play’ could be a wonderful listen — if only that goddamn clicking percussion was dropped in the editing room. It cuts through the lovely swell of guitars and synths and punctures any warm, fuzzy feeling that could have been created.
A somewhat disappointing end to WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?. It drifts by without even bothering to grasp your attention; a muted, lesser version of ‘listen before i go’.
#26. ‘party favor’
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every artist must have at least ONE song in their career that is started by a voicemail recording. This is Billie’s, and unfortunately the voicemail is the most sonically intriguing part of the song.
‘Watch’ sounds as if O’Connell and Billie were instructed by a label exec to write a by-the-numbers pop track that would slip easily into the charts. They technically pulled it off, and it’s one of the most boring songs in their catalogue.
#24. ‘my boy’
In the opening notes of ‘My Boy’, as Eilish’s vocals fly and fall, you can hear the whisper of Amy Winehouse’s ghost. Unfortunately, the song does not bear any resemblance to any in the late, great artist’s catalogue.
Vince Staples generally improves every song he touches, but he doesn’t quite gel with Eilish’s vocals, and the result is underwhelming.
#22. ‘Six Feet Under’
First uploaded to SoundCloud back in 2016, then repackaged and officially released a year later, ‘Six Feet Under’ is the sound of a young singer steadily finding her feet. There’s a stark difference in vocals here, as Eilish is singing much more directly and forcefully than she will in later releases.
A soft cloud rolling by, pleasant to behold but impossible to remember.
#19. ‘WHEN I WAS OLDER’
Eilish’s contribution to Music Inspired By The Film Roma exists in a trance-like state. In its four-and-a-half minutes it barely touches the ground, with Eilish’s vocals rippling across a nervy snare drum.
An anxious fret of a song, which skates and slides on an uneasy rhythm.
Even in the most underwhelming Eilish songs, there are moments of brilliance and inspired songwriting. In ‘bored’, which is otherwise completely forgettable, it’s the way Eilish tumbles down the melody on the line “I’m not afraid anymore”, like a pebble down a waterfall.
#16. ‘all the good girls go to hell’
Home to some of the best opening lyrics out there: “My Lucifer is lonely/Standing there, killing time/Can’t commit to anything but a crime.” The dark Christian imagery fits Eilish’s aesthetic like a black glove, but the song is let down slightly by the lack of differentiation in rhythm and melody — you’re left hoping that something would lift it off the ground, but it never happens.
#15. ‘bitches broken hearts’
Another SoundCloud upload remade into an official release, ‘bitches broken hearts’ sounds like it fell out of a ‘Lofi Hip-Hop Radio‘ loop, in the best way possible.
If Eilish felt so inclined, she could release a wonderful blues album, her voice being well suited to the melancholy of the genre. The opening of ‘copycat’ is the best evidence I have for this theory. Of course, this is Eilish, so just as we’ve settled into the rhythm of the song, she rips it out from under our feet and drops us on our head.
A lilting, fairytale lullaby written about devastating prescription drug addiction. Somehow… it works.
#12. ‘my strange addiction’
A delicious bop, ‘my strange addiction’ is — as far as we can find — the only song that incorporates quotes from one of the The Office’s greatest episodes, Threat Level Midnight. That might give it a cheery novelty, but you can’t help but think the song would have been improved if the jarring samples were left out of it.
“I think we were just in a garage and riffing a bunch of stuff, playing these same chords over and over again,” Eilish told Music Junkee back in 2017 about the creation of ‘bellyache’. “Then we were like, ‘Sitting all alone, mouth full of gum, in the driveway’… that was just a cool image.
“And then, Finneas said, ‘My friends aren’t far, in the back of my car, are there bodies?’ Because the scene was we’re in a car with our friends and we’re just cruising down the street. And then I was like, ‘No, no, no. In the back of my car, lay their bodies, because I just killed everyone.’ And then we were like, ‘Yes.’
The result? Dislocating, and completely enthralling.
#10. ‘i love you’
A song that you would drink a case of.
#9. ‘listen before i go’
A gentle hug of a song — and a prime example of the arresting atmosphere Eilish’s vocals can create.
#8. ‘No Time To Die’
While some were screaming for Dua Lipa to take the reins of the next Bond theme, envisioning, perhaps, a bombastic number in the vein of Adele’s ‘Skyfall’, Billie Eilish was the perfect choice. The swirling menace that Eilish conveys is a snug fit for a character who is constantly being consumed by their inner darkness.
#7. ‘you should see me in a crown’
A song that shifts and twists like a snake underfoot. Unsettling, and brilliant.
#6. ‘ocean eyes’
Listening to ‘ocean eyes’ now is to hear the sprouts that would bloom on her debut — the harmonies are tentative, the instrumentation restrained and muted. Both her and O’Connell reaching for something they haven’t quite grasped yet, but regardless, what they already possess is beautiful.
#5. ‘lovely’ feat. Khalid
The way Khalid and Eilish’s vocals blend and lift in the pre-chorus is a moment of pure gorgeoussness. Simply, a stunning song.
#4. ‘everything i wanted’
The first track to appear following the success of WHEN WE ALL FALL is a tender and confronting rumination on suicide, told by Eilish through a narrative of a dream she had. It almost didn’t see the light of day, as her brother Finneas was initially very uncomfortable with the thought of helping produce a song about Eilish’s desire to commit suicide.
“It was a period where I was really worried about my sister, and I felt like an enabler in helping her write a song as bleak as that song was,” O’Connell told the New York Times in a recent profile. “Like the musical equivalent of giving an alcoholic another beer: ‘I’m not going to support this.’ A lot of songs are written in retrospect, but this one felt like it was being written in real time, and I was like: ‘This is something we’ve got to write on the other side of this hill. We have to go through this in real life. You can’t always solve your problems in a song.’”
#3. ‘bury a friend’
Eilish has always delighted in playing the monster — hell, one of her first singles, ‘Bellyache’, was written from the perspective of a serial killer. In ‘bury a friend’, she plays the part of the monster under the bed, posing questions to her potential victim. “What do you want from me? Why don’t you run from me? What are you wondering? What do you know?,” she croons, the off-kilter harmonies raising hairs on your neck.
#2. ‘bad guy’
‘Bad guy’ shouldn’t really work as a pop single. It’s dark, it’s menacing, and it ends with one of the gnarled and scorched outros in pop music history. But thanks to that thundering bassline that opens the song like a cannonball bursting through a quiet church, Eilish’s layered and muted harmonies, and the chorus’ skittish groove, it’s one of the most instantly memorable tracks in recent years.
It also contains a bit of Australia: Eilish’s bother Finneas O’Connor spliced the sound of a Sydney pedestrian crossing into the chorus, after the two of them fell in love with the weird beeping while they were here on tour.
#1. ‘when the party’s over’
The haunting beauty that O’Connell and Eilish were pursuing on WHEN WE ALL FALL… is perfected on ‘when the party’s over’, a glimpse of a dark and toxic relationship rendered as a charcoal sketch. The way Eilish delicately floats the melody across the instrumentation, rising and falling like breathing in deep sleep, is masterful.
It’s more hymn than pop song, and those misty, falling harmonies stay with you long after the song has faded. If this is the new pop sphere that Eilish and O’Connell are carving for themselves, we have so much to look forward to.
Jules LeFevre is the editor of Music Junkee. Follow her on Twitter.