Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Billie Eilish – Bellyache

Your daily dose of “Feel Old Yet?” comes from a singer born in 2001, suggested by Joshua…


Alex Clifton: As a teenager, my favourite book was The Basic Eight. It’s the story of a high-school senior who loves a boy so much that she kills him by bashing in his head with a croquet mallet. (That’s not a spoiler.) I normally can’t do gore, but I loved that book as a sixteen-year-old because it tapped into a truth rarely acknowledged: teenage girls can be dark and cruel and brutal. Not just in the Mean Girls passive-aggressive way, but in the depths of their anger. Teenage girls go through a lot, saddled with the weight of impossible societal expectations force-fed through the media, both mainstream & social. It’s hard. So I always like it when artists –especially teen girls themselves — explore that darker side and use that quiet anger to spark a storm. “Bellyache” fits with that theme, a story of murder and robbery and suicide and gnawing guilt. Eilish stated in an interview that “the character [in the song] isn’t me — but it also is,” a fascinating comment from a fifteen-year-old. Eilish herself is certainly not a psychopath, but she gets to the heart of that darker side of teenage life very quickly, how you can have both gum in your mouth and murder in your heart. Teenage life is rarely a case of and/or but often a case of both/and, having disparate ideas locked at war within you. And in 2017, a year that’s seen women that are angry, brave, powerful, and unbeaten, it’s neat to have a dark pop tune that encapsulates some of those same feelings.

Edward Okulicz: The song’s narrator speaks of horror like it means nothing but a little rumble, like the details of her actions are mere details. But you feel as if the walls are closing in, and the song bumps and grinds gently, as if not to tip off someone waiting outside the door. The numb understatement with which this song is performed by Eilish makes it incredibly captivating, and the backing vocals are just perfect.

Alfred Soto: John Grant would appreciate how this folkie figures out how to wrap her acoustic guitar around beats, not to mention the kind of savoir faire that shows no sign of slackening even when she admits to having a mind in the gutter.

Nortey Dowuona: Soft, pulling guitar and woodcuts off in the distance solidly center Ellish while a rush of bass and synths pulls up, then drops softly with heaving chipmunk vocals and topped off by her soaring background vocals.

Will Adams: The verses hit a sweet spot between calm assuredness and eyebrow-raised smirk that reminds me of Whoa, Nelly! before it veers into a bloopy drop, a switch that doesn’t quite work.

Julian Baldsing: With zingers like “my V is for Vendetta” and “I wear my noose like a necklace,” “Bellyache” is more reminiscent of Team Rocket than Michael Myers, but the track’s resulting cartoon-creepiness is an amalgamation that works.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Billie Eilish is precocious and devilish, yes, but these lyrics are ultimately too familiar to have much impact. “Bellyache” rises above its tropes though thanks to a gelatinous chorus, carrying with it a reserved cool and sinister undertone. But if I want something recent that’s along the same lines, I’ll take Cory Finley’s Thoroughbreds.

Rebecca A. Gowns: As simple as platinum blonde dye and dark sunglasses, and just as typical. You know, typical, like expected, cliche — like all the expressions in this song — and yet, still cool.

Reader average: [7.66] (3 votes)

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6 Responses to “Billie Eilish – Bellyache”

  1. Aw fuck meant to send a song for readers week but I was super busy, I had a list of 10 potential singles to choose from. Anyhow, these are all great. One of my most waited EOY wraps. You should do a mid-year round-up of reader suggested singles. Once a year is not enough!

  2. I think this is maybe the first “famous” person (e.g., she has a wikipedia page) I’ve encountered who was born after 9/11?

  3. the kids from stranger things come to my mind

  4. Grace VanderWaal, for another (2004!! Aghhhfdfchggdd)

  5. “…how you can have both gum in your mouth and murder in your heart.”

    oh, Alex, your blurb was so great

  6. ahhhh, thanks Ryo!!! :’)