The song at #44 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Bad Guy” by the insanely talented young artist Billie Eilish (her full birth name is Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell). With the meteoric success of her ground-breaking debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, one of the biggest-selling albums of 2019, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter became a superstar. I was blown away by her phenomenal performance at the 2019 Coachella Music Festival (which I watched livestreamed on YouTube) when she was only 17 years old. “Bad Guy” reached #1 on numerous music charts in the U.S. and around the world, including Australia, Canada, Mexico, Greece, Hungary, Norway and the Czech Republic.
“Bad Guy” was co-written by Eilish and her older brother Finneas O’Connell (a successful artist in his own right), who also produced and programmed the track. Musically, the song has an unusual minimalist melody featuring instrumentation provided by synth bass, kick drum, finger snaps and 808 bass, pulling us headlong into a thumping, ominous soundscape. Eilish’s clipped, breathy vocals have a seductive, almost menacing quality as she sings the provocative lyrics that seem beyond her tender years, yet she makes them totally believable. “I’m that bad type. Make your mama sad type. Make your girlfriend mad tight. Might seduce your dad type. I’m the bad guy, duh.” It’s brilliant!
Given her talent, creativity, intelligence and willingness to experiment, I’m confident that Billie Eilish is destined for a long and illustrious career.