Billie Eilish is just your average teenager — if every kid her age had a driver’s license, Invisalign and millions of streams.
At 17, the singular pop rebel — who’s in Chicago this weekend to play the United Center on Sunday — has achieved more than most performers do in their entire careers.
She’s charted five singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (including “Bury a Friend,” which peaked at No. 14), racked up millions of followers on Instagram, performed at Lollapalooza and sold out three headlining tours in a matter of minutes.
Her debut album “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in March with 313,000 equivalent album units — a combination of album sales, song downloads and streams. That’s the second-largest sales week for an album this year, after Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” debuted with 360,000 units in February.
From celebrity supporters to rumored Illuminati ties, here’s everything you need to know about the fast-rising Los Angeles native with a devoted Gen Z following.
‘Pirate’ is one of her three middle names
The singer was born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell to actors Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell, whose mutual TV credits include “The West Wing” and “Days of Our Lives.” Her first middle name was going to be “Pirate,” but “then my uncle had a problem with it because pirates are bad,” she told the BBC in 2017.
Her brother is singer/actor Finneas O’Connell, who has had recurring roles on TV shows including “Glee” and “Modern Family.” He produced and co-wrote much of Eilish’s debut album in their childhood home, where they both were homeschooled.
Her breakout song was recorded for her dance class
In 2015, Eilish’s dance teacher asked the then-13-year-old if she could record an original song for an upcoming recital. She and her brother uploaded the wistful pop ballad “Ocean Eyes” to SoundCloud soon after, and it quickly caught the attention of music blogs and her now-co-manager Danny Rukasin, who “reached out to my brother and was, like, ‘Dude, this is going to get huge, and I think you’re going to need help along the way. I want to help you guys,’ “ Eilish told Teen Vogue. “We were, like, ‘That’s swag!’ “
”Ocean Eyes” was featured on her 2017 EP “Don’t Smile at Me,” which blends elements of folk, electronic and R&B on viral hits such as “Bellyache” and “idontwannabeyouanymore.”
Dave Grohl likens her influence to that of Nirvana
Eilish counts Lana Del Rey, Childish Gambino and Tyler, the Creator among her inspirations and has won famous fans in Shawn Mendes, Alicia Keys, Jared Leto and Dave Grohl. The Foo Fighters frontman raved about her during a music conference in Los Angeles, comparing the excitement around Eilish to that of his former band, Nirvana, in its heyday.
“My daughters are obsessed with Billie Eilish,” Grohl said. “The same thing is happening with her that happened with Nirvana in 1991. Her music is hard to define, I don’t know what you call it. ... But it’s authentic, and I would call that rock ‘n’ roll.”
‘American Horror Story’-style videos have ruffled feathers
With her baggy clothes, turquoise hair and introspective lyrics about depression and anxiety, Eilish has become a brooding pop idol for millions of teens who share her dark sensibilities and devil-may-care attitude.
But the rising star also has courted controversy. Earlier this year, she released the cheeky single “Wish You Were Gay,” which she wrote about a boy who didn’t love her back — she later discovered he’s gay.
”It’s so not supposed to be an insult,” Eilish told PopBuzz following backlash from LGBTQ fans. “The whole idea of the song is ... ‘I wish you didn’t love me because you didn’t love girls.’ “
Her music videos have been similarly polarizing for their often-disturbing imagery, including extended shots of her crying black tears (“When the Party’s Over”), and getting tortured and injected by needles (“Bury a Friend”). Her appearance in the latter video as a black-eyed demon sparked online speculation that “I sold my soul to the Illuminati,” Eilish said with a laugh on the web series “Hot Ones.”
”I don’t really know what the Illuminati is, to be honest with you!”
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