Dark truth behind teen star’s hit track
Billie Eilish's producer-songwriter brother just wants his sister to be happy.
Finneas O'Connell, 22, revealed that he and his family were "insanely concerned" when they first heard the Grammy winner's dark song Everything I Wanted.
"Like the musical equivalent of giving an alcoholic another beer: 'I'm not going to support this.'"
The song was reportedly inspired by a dream Eilish, 18, had in September 2018 in which she found herself jumping off a building.
"I was in a really bad place mentally," said the Bad Guy singer. "So the lyrics - 'I had a dream I got everything I wanted' - are literal."
Eilish has been open about her struggles with depression and has spoken in the past about how Everything I Wanted was inspired by suicide.
However, the singer explained the song's inspiration in-depth to the magazine, which featured the song in its annual "25 Songs That Matter Now" list, ranking it at No. 7.
"We had this big argument," Eilish said of her brother. "Because I admitted something that I was, uh. It wasn't a physical thing I was admitting. I don't know how to put it without actually saying it, and I don't want to actually say it. But it was me admitting to something that was very serious about my depression. A very serious step that I was admitting that I was planning on taking."
"Finneas said, 'I don't want to write a song about you killing yourself and how that's everything you wanted!' It became this huge thing," she continued, "and I locked myself in my room, and I was in there, just drawing on my wall."
In her own fashion, Eilish insisted on staying true to herself.
"We haven't really talked about this since, but Finneas was like, 'I don't want to keep making these songs that are only sad and they never get better,'" she said. "He wanted to make songs that resolve in the end. I was like: 'But Finneas, that's not how things work in life. And I'm not going to lie in a song and talk about how I'm feeling good when I'm not.'"
That's when her parents intervened - and the songwriting siblings decided to put the tune on hold.
"A lot of songs are written in retrospect, but this one felt like it was being written in real-time," O'Connell said. "And I was like: 'This is something we've got to write on the other side of this hill. We have to go through this in real life. You can't always solve your problems in a song.'"
Everything I Wanted was released as a single in November 2019, after being rediscovered in a cache of voice memos. The pair decided it was a better time as Eilish "was in a better place," after working on her mental health and seeing a therapist.
Ultimately, O'Connell got what he wanted, in a way, by producing a song that was authentically Billie but added a glimmer of hope.
"Thought I could fly/So I stepped off the Golden/Nobody cried/Nobody even noticed," Eilish sings in the verse. But in the chorus, O'Connell harmonises with his sister: "You say, 'As long as I'm here, no one can hurt you.'"
"Finneas and I both had the idea to make the song about each other, instead of just me and how I was feeling," Eilish said. "We had a complete block, and the way we got through it was to make it about us as siblings and what we mean to each other."
Eilish also told the magazine that she's struggled with depression since her adolescence, and death is a common theme in her music. In the morose Bury a Friend, she croons, "I wanna end me," and the song Bellyache references thoughts of murdering her own friends.
This article originally appeared in the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.