Billie Eilish is notorious for releasing songs with contrasting music styles to keep fans on their feet. She’s genreless. Her track “Therefore I Am” was funky and upbeat, while “my future” was a pensive, slow burn. In stark contrast, “Your Power,” released on April 29, along with an accompanying music video, was a sorrowful ballad with a folksy-inspired guitar riff. The singles were released in anticipation of her sophomore album “Happier than Ever,” which fans can expect July 30.
One can’t deny Billie Eilish relies heavily on the shock factor to get messages across to a wider audience. Typically, if someone sees a YouTube thumbnail of a person crying black tears or eating spiders, curiosity is bound to get the best of them. It’s that same morbid curiosity that causes us to obsess over horror films or want to see what’s happening on the site of a car accident. But even if the thumbnail isn’t all that interesting, one may still want to click on it because it could end up being noteworthy. The kind of sobering content that stays in your brain for days after. That’s how I’d describe “Your Power”: a thought-provoking criticism toward people who take advantage of those “beneath” them, whether this is in regards to age or status.
According to an interview with BBC radio, Billie said, “I’m not gonna make (the song) about my experiences because millions of people have experienced this every single day. Everyone is someone or knows someone who’s been taken advantage of.”
If listeners pay enough attention to the lyricism, they will garner clues about the specific subject matter: an older man preying on a younger woman.
I love the moment in the first pre-chorus, when Billie asks the man in question, “If you could take it all back, would you?” And Billie’s angelic chorus sweeps in and leaves the insightful question hanging in the air, as unsettling as a single storm cloud.
I had to listen to the song a few times before it truly grew on me. I’m a Billie fan no doubt, but I frequent EDM and other base-heavy tracks a majority of the time, so I had to get my feet wet first. The beginning instrumentals sounded vaguely familiar. At first, I just thought to compare it to the likeness of Taylor Swift’s “Red” era, in particular her song “Sad Beautiful Tragic.” But then I brainstormed a few other songs with a similar folksy vibe and discovered it sounded a lot like the intro to “Let her Go” by The Passengers. Remind me to try and make a mashup of that later.
Aside from being reverb-heavy (echoey), I love how this song doesn’t rely on frills and vocal ornamentations like modern-day pop singers. Why would you need that when you’ve got a voice like Billie’s? I also enjoy how it’s got a lo-fi vibe to it. You can hear shuffling and additional background noises that prove how raw and authentic it all is.
When it comes to the music video, all I have to say is that it’s a funny alliteration. She’s filmed videos with spiders, snakes and what’s next? Sharks perhaps?
According to Variety, the video was shot in Simi Valley, California with an 80-pound anaconda. Regardless, it’s well done in the sense that it gives viewers a false sense of security — watching Billie sitting on the edge of what looks like rocky bluffs, and the world around her has a sort of warm glow to it. Billie’s blonde hair blows dramatically in the wind, framing her face. It seems very serene and idealistic until a very large snake starts to wrap itself around Billie’s waist like a vine. Suddenly, the camera pans to the sky, where blue-tinted storm clouds start to encompass the sun.
Where does the snake fit in, aside from the shock factor? The snake seems to symbolize the oppressor himself. The metaphorical suffocation that comes from the abuse of power. As Billie so wisely says, “power isn’t pain.”
The video ends in an eerily perfect way. One final sigh from Billie as the screen fades to black. A cry for help. Or, a sigh of relief.
Follow Lauren Johns on Twitter, @lje2017
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