Billie Eilish’s Hit Me Hard and Soft Paves the Way for a Pop Revolution

Billie Eilish is the most open she’s ever been on her third album Hit Me Hard and Soft. 

The star is coming off a wonderful promo season for the movie Barbie, where Eilish’s gorgeous and devastating hit What Was I Made For? won an Oscar, a Grammy, and more. She announced a new era through her close friends story on Instagram, which garnered over 7 million new followers. This time around feels even more unique than usual, especially because Billie decided to not release any singles ahead of the album. In her cover story with Rolling Stone, she explains her disdain for singles without the context of the full body of work: “This album is like a family: I don’t want one little kid to be in the middle of the room alone.”  

She and Finneas, her brother and main collaborator/producer, wrote and completed the album in his house throughout 2023. The iconic sibling pair have worked together since her debut, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and were catapulted into stardom when Billie was just 17.  Since then, she has been nominated for 25 Grammys, won 2 Oscars, and has had multiple top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Eilish, not surprisingly, has already received critical acclaim for her newest collection of bold, experimental, and intense songs. After listening, I finally resonated with why. Hit Me Hard and Soft is a beautiful, cohesive body of work that oscillates between love and sadness, and somehow pulls off this seemingly impossible paradox encompassed by the title.  

Picking up where she left off, Eilish starts the album with the profound Skinny, about ageing, weight, and beauty. Most will rightfully classify this as a sibling to her Barbie hit. “People say I look happy / just because I got skinny / but the old me is still me and maybe the real me / and I think she’s pretty.” She continues to slam internet trolls who decide to make comments on her body, something she has struggled with since becoming famous. The stunning orchestral outro with deep cello and violins is classic, yet almost a façade of what’s to come in the following track on the album. A thought-provoking start. 

Lunch is a seismic shift from Skinny with an ultra-smooth transition. Expressing desire for a woman, Eilish and her brother carve a catchy beat, sensual lyrics, and a strong bass line. “Tastes like she might be the one/ It’s a craving, not a crush.” The most impressive part of the song is the dance break outro, with deep breath sounds that bring her lust full circle. Lunch’s erotic essence was brought to light when she premiered it at a Coachella party; however, this was not the first time Eilish discussed her sexuality. After admitting she was attracted to women in an interview, she was explicitly asked at a red-carpet event, causing her to post on Instagram and say “I like boys and girls leave me alone about it please literally who cares.” She wants to reveal these parts of her life on her own terms, primarily through her music, which is particularly evident through the rest of this album. 

If you thought the bass line was rich in Lunch, Finneas’ production continues to dominate in Chihiro, the third longest song on the album. It isolates Eilish’s falsetto when she refrains “Did you take my love away from me?” and follows an untraditional structure that explodes into a house-style bop. The rollercoaster of build-ups belongs in an action or sci-fi movie score. Her voice takes a backseat during the bridge to allow the sleek guitar and beat to gain control. A dark outro precedes the peak where the track comes to a halt as the ending. 

Next, the listener is taken on a sweeping, romantic journey as a consistent drumbeat and soft acoustic guitar come in on Birds of a Feather. “I’ll love you till the day that I die / Till the light leaves my eyes.” Eilish brings out her charming, romantic side with themes of love lasting until death, and maybe, forever. Her voice is clear here in case anyone still thinks she just whispered in her music. This track turned into a personal favourite due to its happy and upbeat nature. 

Wildflower, a wounding record about dating a friend’s ex, is one of the most lyrically strong songs. With pouring rain sounds in the beginning, almost inaudible without headphones, Eilish consoles someone after a breakup but then becomes closer to the individual who caused the heartbreak. It drives her crazy, mirrored in the surge to the second chorus. “Did I cross the line?” “I see her/ in the back of my mind/ all the time.” The vocal layering is incredible and highlights Billie and Finneas’ expertise in songcraft.

Switching it up on The Greatest, Eilish is almost sarcastic in her lyricism. Do not be fooled, this track is gut-wrenching and emotional because she is praising herself for getting through a one-sided relationship. The song transforms and explodes into heavy drums and epic vocals, where she is begging to be seen. “Just wanted passion from you.” As the volume lowers, she is still pleading “All my love and patience/ unappreciated.” The last line turns it on the person who remained indifferent: “You could’ve been the greatest.” 

Billie Eilish continues to remain witty on L’Amour De Ma Vie. Much more upbeat than the previous, the title translation is “love of my life,” but she twists it into it being all a lie. She draws on her past music, incorporating a jazzy beat, akin to Billie Bossa Nova on her sophomore album. The song begins to shift gears after the “bum bum bum” and starts to intensify, but the real twist doesn’t come until about 75% of the way through. Comparable to her smash hit Bad Guy, the beat morphs into something completely different that is 80s yet modern. Listeners may not jive with Eilish’s purposely autotuned voice, but the song wraps up abruptly yet effortlessly. 

The Diner is probably one of the most haunting and suspenseful tracks on the album. The song delineates a stalker breaking into a house, leaving notes, and going to jail, which the singer has dealt with in real life. “I’m waitin’ on your block / but please don’t call the cops.” The lyrics are visual and depict the stalker’s plan perfectly. The whispering of a phone number brings the song to completion as she references the lyric “I left a calling card so they would know that it was me.” This masterful and creepy composition showcases both Billie Eilish’s range as an artist and Finneas’ polished production, with her vocals taking a supporting role to his musical backdrop. 

Bittersuite must be three different songs in one. It begins with insane electric synth chords that shock you awake. The song switches approximately after the first minute into a different texture of a softer, more precise rhythm. The lyrics are tougher to decipher, and the last minute of the record is muffled whispers. Its tune eventually nods to an unreleased song from Billie’s discography, True Blue, before transitioning into the updated version on Hit Me Hard and Soft, titled Blue.

Blue captures the emotions Eilish has talked about, especially when she addresses her mental health: “I try to live in black and white, but I’m so blue.” It also makes references to themes previously touched on in the album, like the bird imagery in Skinny and Birds of a Feather, the use of the word amour (L’Amour De Ma Vie), and the lyric “open up the door,” like in Chihiro. 

Once again, the song takes a completely different shape and shifts into something slower and quieter, which is another unreleased song previously called Born Blue. Her vocal becomes the deepest it has ever been before going back to her signature high range and fading into dark strings.

The last line in Blue is already causing fans to speculate, “But when can I hear the next one?” Perhaps Eilish has something else up her sleeve besides this 10-track masterpiece. 

Listen to Hit Me Hard and Soft 👇🏼

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