Who is Billie Eilish? Everything to know about the teen who won big at the 2020 Grammys
Billie Eilish is just your average teenager – if every kid her age had a driver’s license, Invisalign, more than 3 billion streams to date and multiple Grammys.
At 18, the singular pop rebel has achieved more than most artists do in their entire careers: She’s charted a string of hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100, racked up 50 million followers on Instagram, won the four biggest Grammy Awards in one night (only the second artist to do so, and the youngest), and sold out three headlining tours in a matter of minutes.
In March 2019, her debut album, “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 313,000 equivalent album units (a combination of album sales, song downloads and streams).
From celebrity supporters to rumored Illuminati ties, here’s everything you need to know about the fast-rising Los Angeles native with a devoted Gen Z following.
Billie Eilish took home the big four trophies at the Grammy Awards
The teen singer swept all the major honors at the 62nd annual Grammys, winning album, record and song of the year as well as best new artist. Christopher Cross was the last artist to accomplish that Grammys feat in 1981.
Eilish also performed during music’s biggest night, taking the stage for her ballad “When the Party’s Over” as her producer brother Finneas – and a choir dressed in white – joined her onstage.
“The #NoTimeToDie title song will be performed by @billieeilish. Billie has written the song with her brother @finneas and is the youngest artist in history to write and record a James Bond theme song,” the franchise’s official Twitter account shared.
The Bond account also shared a statement from the 18-year-old: “It feels crazy to be a part of this in every way. To be able to score the theme song to a film that is part of such a legendary series is a huge honour. James Bond is the coolest film franchise ever to exist. I’m still in shock.”
“Pirate” is one of her three middle names
The singer was born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell to actors Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell, whose mutual TV credits include “The West Wing” and “Days of Our Lives.” Her first middle name was going to be “Pirate,” but “then my uncle had a problem with it because pirates are bad,” she explained to the BBC in 2017.
Her brother is singer/actor Finneas O’Connell, who has recurred on shows including “Glee” and “Modern Family.” He produced and co-wrote much of Eilish’s debut album in their childhood home, where they both were homeschooled.
Her breakout song was recorded for dance class
In 2015, Eilish’s dance teacher asked the then-13-year-old if she could record an original song for an upcoming recital. She and her brother uploaded the wistful pop ballad, “Ocean Eyes,” to SoundCloud soon after, which quickly caught the attention of various music blogs and her now-co-manager Danny Rukasin.
“(He) reached out to my brother and was like, ‘Dude, this is going to get huge and I think you’re going to need help along the way. I want to help you guys,’ ” Eilish explained to Teen Vogue. “We were like, ‘That’s swag!’ “
Dave Grohl likens her influence to Nirvana’s
Eilish counts Lana Del Rey, Childish Gambino and Tyler, the Creator among her biggest inspirations, and has won famous fans in Shawn Mendes, Alicia Keys, Jared Leto and Dave Grohl. The Foo Fighters frontman raved about her during a music conference in Los Angeles, comparing the excitement around Eilish to that of his former band, Nirvana, during its heyday.
“My daughters are obsessed with Billie Eilish,” Grohl said. “The same thing is happening with her that happened with Nirvana in 1991. Her music is hard to define, I don’t know what you call it. … But it’s authentic and I would call that rock ‘n’ roll. So I don’t care what sort of instruments you use to do it. People say, ‘Is rock dead?’ When I look at someone like Billie Eilish, I’m like, ‘Rock ‘n’ roll is not even close to being dead!’ “
Her “American Horror Story”-style videos have ruffled feathers
With her baggy clothes, turquoise hair and introspective lyrics about depression and anxiety, Eilish has become a brooding pop idol for millions of teens who share her dark sensibilities and devil-may-care attitude.
But the rising star has also courted controversy. When she released cheeky new single “Wish You Were Gay,” which she wrote about a boy who didn’t love her back and she later discovered was gay. “It’s so not supposed to be an insult,” Eilish told PopBuzz following backlash from LGBTQ fans. “The whole idea of the song is … ‘I wish you didn’t love me because you didn’t love girls.’ “
Her music videos have been similarly polarizing for their often-disturbing imagery, including extended shots of her crying black tears (“When the Party’s Over”), and getting tortured and injected by needles (“Bury a Friend”). Her appearance in the latter video as a black-eyed demon sparked online speculation that “I sold my soul to the Illuminati,” Eilish said with a laugh on web series “Hot Ones” last year. “I don’t really know what the Illuminati is, to be honest with you!”