Teen Culture

Billie Eilish: The Queen of Gen Z

A young queen. An overnight sensation. An anti-pop genius. All of these titles describe pop star Billie Eilish. Maybe you’ve heard of her? She is one of the biggest names in current music and celebrity culture, and will probably be around for a long time. Her fast rise to fame is exciting to watch, but also raises many many questions about her, her origin, and why she does what she does. Hopefully, this blog answers some of the questions you have about young Billie.

Who is Billie Eilish?

Born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell on December 1, 2001, Billie has been a creative powerhouse since birth. Her parents Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell are actors who raised her and her older brother, Finneas, in suburban Los Angeles. Both Billie and Finneas were homeschooled their entire childhood and their parents encouraged them to be creative and express themselves in passionate ways. Billie’s passion was dance and for Finneas it was acting, but both of them also had an overwhelming love for music. From a young age, Finneas thought Billie was better at singing and Billie thought Finneas was better at songwriting, so they harnessed their opposite strengths and made their art.

Soundcloud to Billboard #1

In 2015 Finneas wrote a song, brought it into Billie’s room, and asked her to sing it. They both fell in love with the song and put “Ocean Eyes” up onto SoundCloud. The song went viral and, very soon after, Billie signed with Darkroom and Interscope Records. She then released “Ocean Eyes” as her debut single in November of 2016, and it has since been streamed over 1 billion times.

Before her breakout album in 2019, Billie built up her discography. She released her first EP “dont smile at me” in 2017 with songs like “bellyache,” “idontwannabeyouanymore,” and “hostage.” She also jumped on some soundtrack opportunities, recording “Bored” and “lovely (with Khalid)” for the 13 Reasons Why soundtrack.

Then everything happened. Billie started teasing her new album in July of 2019 with “you should see me in a crown,” and then again in October with “when the party’s over,” which featured her classic crying-black-tears moment. She then released “bury a friend” in January of 2019, “wish you were gay” on March 9, and finally the entire album — written, composed, produced, and performed by Billie and her brother Finneas — “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” on March 29, 2019. 

To put this debut album in perspective, the lead single “bad guy” did not come out until the day of the album’s release and that song alone (since less than a year ago) has since been streamed over 3 billion times. So yeah, she’s kind of a big deal.

A Beast at the Grammys

Over the past year, Billie and her brother have won dozens of awards, but the ones that hold the most weight are the Grammys. Here’s the breakdown of what she and Finneas won:

Billie Eilish – Nominations: 6 | Wins: 5


  1. Record of the Year – “bad guy”
  2. Album of the Year – “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”
  3. Song of the Year – “bad guy”
  4. Best New Artist
  5. Best Pop Vocal Album – “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”


  1. Best Pop Solo Performance – “bad guy”

Finneas O’Connell – Nominations: 5 | Wins: 5


  1. Record of the Year – “bad guy”
  2. Album of the Year – “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”
  3. Song of the Year – “bad guy”
  4. Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical – “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”
  5. Producer of the Year, Non-Classical – “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”

Billie is the youngest artist nominated for all four major Grammy awards (Song, Record, Album, New Artist), and is now the youngest artist to sweep all four awards. The last person to win all four of these in the same year was Christopher Cross in 1981 for his self-titled album, and for one of my favorite songs of all-time, “Sailing.”

A Gen Z Queen

Teens love Billie because she is the prime example of embracing self and culture and putting that energy into a medium that is recognized and praised. She is a bona fide woman who makes beautifully haunting music from the heart and is influenced by internet culture. Billie harnesses her gifts, pours them into passions, and does not allow the opinions of others to stunt her creativity.

Teens also love Billie because she does not stray away from expressing her emotions. In a CBS interview, Billie says that when she first started, radio and record labels wouldn’t play her because she was “too sad”, or “no one was going to relate to it.”  She believes the exact opposite of that, and she’s right. In the interview, Billie stated, “Everybody has felt sad in their lives. And it’s of course really important to promote happiness and loving yourself and stuff, but a lot of people don’t love themselves.” 

These sad songs stem from her first-hand experience as one who has struggled with clinical depression and she has been open about her anxiety and depression from the start. She works through her emotions and struggles in her music, and finds support in her friends and family. Yes her music is dark and sad, but Billie is setting the example for teens who are afraid to talk about their problems, who think that there is no one to support them. Billie is using her platform to promote ways of expressing emotions that help rather than harm and demonstrates ways to control and release that emotion.

Billie Eilish is a colossal force of artistry and anti-pop that is influencing and being influenced by the culture. She is an example to teens today of making it big at a young age and staying true to yourself. If your teen looks up to Billie, encourage them to see first the message of her songs, what she is ACTUALLY saying, and then take a step back and see how she conveys that message through art. We should all take a lesson from Billie; that there is no one way to express what we think or feel, so find your passion and tell your stories.

Some Fun Facts

  1. She still lives in the same house she grew up in, and still lives with her parents.
  2. Her entire #1 album was recorded in her brother’s room.
  3. She has Tourette Syndrome, with physical tics.
  4. Her musical influences include Childish Gambino, Green Day, The Beatles, Avril Lavigne, and Tyler, the Creator.
  5. She samples (reuses a recording of) a scene from The Office episode “Threat Level Midnight” in her song “my strange addiction.”

Watch Billie

  1. Billie Eilish: Same Interview, The Third Year | Vanity Fair
  2. Billie Eilish Watches Fan Covers on YouTube
  3. Billie Eilish Wins Song of the Year | 2020 GRAMMYs
  4. Billie Eilish Carpool Karaoke

About the Author

Josh Rogers

Josh started as a Web Apprentice in 2015, and after a summer serving at Camp Hidden Lake as the video nerd, Josh is now in Arizona drinking Arizona and doing web things. While taking long walks and listening to hip-hop, he’ll stop to pet a good doggo, and proceed to ask their owner if they’ve ever seen Star Wars. Josh loves the saints and relational ministry as much as he loves Pokémon Go and pizza, and he is ready to serve with a joyful heart.