‘Therefore I Am’: A Review of Billie Eilish’s New Music Video and Song

In her new single, Billie Eilish teaches us about self-expression, independence, and letting go of toxicity in our lives.

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Billie Eilish performs during one of her New York City concerts from last year. Her rise to fame was sudden — just a couple of years earlier, she was performing at venues with less than one hundred people in them.

It started when a shy, 14-year old girl with a distinctively dreamy voice decided to release her song, ‘Ocean Eyes’, on SoundCloud late one evening. Four years later, she has become an international pop sensation, a recipient of five Grammy awards, and an inspiration for anyone looking to embrace their identity and let go of others’ expectations. 

Currently, Billie Eilish and her brother, musical artist FINNEAS, are working on sixteen new songs, as mentioned in her most recent 2020 Vanity Fair interview. Although Eilish fans are restless in anticipation of this new music, Billie Eilish just released a single, ‘Therefore I Am,’ on November 12th, 2020 to hold us over until the next album is released. And as usual, she exceeded all of our expectations. 

The title of the song, ‘Therefore I Am,’ may sound vaguely familiar. That’s because it was adapted from the 17th-century French philosopher Renee Descartes’ well-known sentiment, Cogito Ergo Sum” or in English, “I think, therefore I am.” When Descartes wrote this, it was related to the idea of self-doubt and existence. Descartes claimed that because we have the capability to doubt our existence, we must exist in the first place.

Stacey Wong ’21, a dance major at LaGuardia High School, said that Eilish’s dancing in the ‘Therefore I Am’ music video was contagious. Many people took to social media after the video was released, voicing similar sentiments. (Sarah Lydon)

 Eilish incorporates this theme into her song by using the statement as a way of validating her own identity and emphasizing her own perspective of herself as opposed to the opinions of others. Simply, she gets at the idea that she will not be impacted by toxic people  — the “doubters” — in her life, who seem to have the worst intentions. 

The entire song connects back to the idea of being free from societal criticism, which Eilish has tried to avoid as much as possible. This can prove to be challenging, as she is constantly in the spotlight. This summer, Eilish was attacked on Twitter, as users came after her body image. The shaming began with a man who posted a photo and commented negatively on her appearance. 

Eilish is well known for wearing loose-fitting clothing in an attempt to hide herself, so that the media will have nothing to comment on. “She is notorious for wearing baggy clothes, so the instant the media got a hold of a photo of Eilish wearing something more skintight, they bashed her body. The media coverage on that photo emphasized the concept that society scrutinizes every little thing about a person,” said Shaira Jafar ’21.

Her song also seems to be in response to misogyny that she has experienced herself as a young woman in the music industry. Eilish delivers her message loud and clear with the line: “Top of the world, but your world isn’t real/ Your world’s an ideal.” In essence, she tells listeners that whatever ideal vision they have for who she should be and look like is just that — an ideal vision of what perfection should look like. 

Eilish also continued to portray self-confidence in her music video. Instead of her video being professionally shot, just as the rest of her videos had been, ‘Therefore I Am’ was filmed on an iPhone and directed by Eilish herself, a lifelong dream of hers. In the video, she is depicted running through an empty mall, one that she frequently visited in her childhood, as she grabs food from the food court with a smile on her face. Instead of coming after the internet trolls who have tried to push her down for so long, Eilish takes the high road and instead proves to them just how successful and happy she has become by accepting who she is. Her video quickly became an internet sensation, reaching the #2 spot for YouTube videos watched globally after one week. Comedian Jimmy Fallon, host of The Tonight Show, even made a parody of it. 

Stacey Wong ’21, a senior from the performing arts school LaGuardia High School, and a serious Billie Eilish fan, has been closely following the artist ever since ‘Ocean Eyes’ was first released. “Her personality shines in this video which I find so cute; she’s silly, wild, and carefree, which is something that we all need to embrace a little more,” said Wong.

This music video represents a new side of Billie Eilish that the public has not really seen, by reminding everyone that at the end of the day, she is still an 18-year-old girl who, ultimately, is still discovering who she is as a person and an artist, which is something that we must respect. Even though her fashion and music may not be for all, Billie Eilish serves as a role model for all of us growing up in this day and age where our lives are put on display due to social media.

“Her personality shines in this video which I find so cute; she’s silly, wild, and carefree, which is something that we all need to embrace a little more,” said Stacey Wong ’21, a senior from the performing arts school LaGuardia High School.

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