Billie Eilish: Gen Z Icon

Having started to garner attention ever since she was 13, Billie Eilish has now become one of the biggest gen z musical sensations worldwide.

Her Story

Billie Eilish, born on December 18, 2001, in California, was first introduced to the public with her incredible debut single Ocean Eyes in 2015. Nothing could have prepared anyone for what was coming. Because from 2015 to 2022 Billie went on to become one of the biggest artists in the world with fans all around the world.

Her parents, Maggie Braid and Patrick O’Connell are both musicians as well. Her brother, Finneas O’Connell, is also a fairly successful singer, producer, and writer. Billie and Finneas have been working together from the start and Finneas produces all of Billie’s music. They also write songs together and Finneas often vocalizes in Billie’s songs. This partnership has proved to be very successful so far as with every song Billie releases it seems like it’s always a foregone conclusion that it will be a hit.

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Her Rise to Fame

In 2017, Billie finally released her first EP Don’t Smile at Me to immediate success. The EP reached Top 15 on the US Billboards charts and with her releasing singles from time to time as well, Spotify put her on some key playlists that further pushed her music out into the world. Thus, after some headline touring from the EP, she was ready to work on her first official album. Fans had to wait a couple more years for that though. 2019 is when Billie would curate her image for which she is even now globally recognized.

With singles like Lovely and When the Party’s Over fans were starting to create this image of ‘sad music’ in relation to the artist Billie Eilish. However, with the release of her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? she was taking matters into her own hands. She has described the process of working on the album as very difficult, especially the songwriting parts of the deal. However, you can’t argue with the end results as not only was the album a huge commercial hit breaking all kinds of records for someone her age and topping many charts, but it was also a huge critical success. While the reviews were hugely positive, perhaps the most impressive part of her debut album came next year at the 2020 Grammy Awards. She won in Best New Artist and Album of the Year categories, among her five total wins there.


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Christian Bertrand/

After having experienced all the success an artist could possibly have after a debut album, in 2020 Billie hinted at another body of work coming in 2021. The expectations were getting higher with every single she released, although in the meanwhile the Apple TV+ documentary that followed her and her brother’s journey so far caught the fans’ attention. The documentary, The World’s a Little Blurry, offered insight into Billie’s personal ins and outs. Her work process, her experiences with love, heartbreak, fame, fans, behind the scene concert footage, and more were explored. This was a great chance for all of her fans to get a peek behind the curtain of one of the biggest stars in the world.

With the release of her second album Happier Than Ever, her global status was set confirmed. Many fans and critics have called it her best and most personal work yet. With the ongoing pandemic playing a role in Billie’s mindset, the writing of the album feels very reflective. Don’t let the album title fool you though as the irony of the sound and the title could not be more obvious once you actually listen to it. Among another acclaim, it has also received seven Grammy nominations and the title track itself has been referred to as her best individual song ever.


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Ben Houdijk/

The Gen Z Factor

Billie is the first artist born in the 2000s who has a number one album and song in the US and that says a lot. She has captured the Gen Z experience so well with her lyrics. This is why so many young people and especially teenagers feel such a strong connection to her and her music. She talks about her mental health struggles in her interviews and she explores themes of depression, anxiety, and romance. In a way, her rise to fame was inevitable when taking into consideration just how much of her fanbase is made up of young people trying to find their true selves.

In a sense, Billie has grown up in the public eye. Looking at photos and watching interviews of her talking about interesting personal topics even from a couple of years ago, you can notice just how much she’s truly grown. And with her, the fans have grown along the way as well. This is a connection that you can’t manufacture. It is real and deep and passionate. It’s easy to forget that despite all she’s been through and all her fame she’s still just a 20 year old figuring stuff out and experiencing the world.

Perhaps of most significance though, she doesn’t talk down to her fans. She understands what it’s like to be young and have all these uncomfortable feelings for the first time. She speaks to that in her music and in turn, conveys a feeling of comfort to everyone. No wonder she’s one of the biggest stars in the world at such a young age. And she’s only going up from here.


Photo: Ben Houdijk/

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