Watch the Video: https://youtu.be/EgBJmlPo8Xw
Billie Eilish is one of the new, biggest stars in music. I reviewed her James Bond song a couple weeks… or is months ago at this point. Either way, though that song was not great her biggest hit “Bad Guy” showed her power of her star and musical talent. Her new song “everything i wanted” is an interesting shift.
Now, if you had my frame of reference, part of you would want this to be some cover or twist on Avril Lavigne “My Happy Ending” mostly for the chorus of “You wanted everything that I wanted…” Now, obviously it is not that, but it hits that same emotional nerve of love and loss through what is popular music now. “My Happy Ending” is more about a relationship that fails, meanwhile “everything i wanted” focuses on the harm of fame, and low self-esteem.
The main issue with “No Time to Die” were the lyrics. They were minimal (to be charitable), and left too little of an impression. “everything i wanted” meanwhile hinges on its lyrics. The beat is very lo-fi hip hop feeling. Not intrusive or overbearing. Just used to accent the lyrics in really clever ways.
Since this song is so lyrics heavy it makes sense to jump in.
She starts the first verse by saying she got everything she ever wanted, only it could be a nightmare. This causes her to imagine killing herself by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, but no body cares.
This first verse is hauntingly sung, but sets up the main idea immediately: getting everything you want is not always good, and the fear of being alone and unwanted.
The prechorus sets up that she awakes to find her partner next to her. From there the chorus is her partner saying that if she can find the positive in herself she would lose the self doubt. Only it is more than self doubt. The chorus is straightforward about self esteem. But the ending line “You wouldn’t wonder why you hear ‘They don’t deserve you.’”
That final line is almost genius. Instead of focusing just on negative self esteem it also focuses on that sense of feeling like you have not don’t enough. It is not just that she feels bad, but that she feels like she did something wrong. That idea is built on in the second verse.
In the second verse she describes how she felt like she was drowning, was called weak, that she was surrounded, and most importantly she felt like she had people who all wanted something, and she could not let them down.
The final two lines “Cause everybody wants something from me now, and I don’t want to let them down,” by itself feels very simple. People want her and she doesn’t feel ready for that. Only, in context with the fact she is a Grammy winning artist, those wants from other people are larger and more demanding. She thought she wanted it, but in fact did not.
The song repeats the prechorus and chorus, then ends with her repeating two questions: “If I knew it all then, would I do it again,” and “If they knew what they said would go straight to my head, what would they say instead?” Feel like they are trying to encompass everything the song is about. The placement is weird and should be flipped, but it works to get across the power of her own self doubt, and how she internalized other people’s words.
The video starts with a dedication to Finneas, Billie’s brother. From there it transitions to Billie and a passenger driving a car down Los Angeles to the beach and into the water. The car sinks while Billie and the passenger hold hands. The car descends further, but begins to flood.
The video is definitely a mood setter, and aside from some real dodgy CG, and cutting the song to have the car driving into water sound effects, it is good. It reframes the song interestingly into a conversation. Billie singing in the car next to the passenger gives it the allure of her saying all of it. It makes it confessional in a way the song by itself does not. It also makes the line in the second verse, “But I don’t wanna let anybody know,” stick out because it’s her saying she did not tell anybody how she felt.
The song is good. It’s not super enjoyable to listen to. Or, not enjoyable in the classic sense. It is a well constructed, if vague, narrative about depression (to be clear it is vague because we do not know a how lot other than how she feels. Everything is generic drowning and falling symbolism with no reason. You don’t need a reason, depression is chemical, but not giving concrete “this happened” at least once it’s all ethereal- that’s the point).
The song is not however one that really builds and grows over multiple listens like Say So by Doja Cat. It is straightforward, and matches how we all feel about this pandemic.
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