Virtually everything about Billie Eilish’s career has been against the grain, unusual or at least unlike basically everyone else, and that’s also the case with “Everything I Wanted,” her first new song since July’s “Bad Guy” remix with Justin Bieber.
Frankly, it couldn’t be much further from “Bad Guy”: Neither a menacing banger like that song or a ballad like “I Love You,” the new track is low-key, midtempo and melancholy, with lyrics that could well reflect some of her feelings about the chaos of fame, although she says in a press release accompanying the song that it’s also a statement of love and support to and from her brother, cowriter, producer and bandmate Finneas: “This song is one my brother and I wrote about each other.” she said. “No matter what happens, we always have been and will be there to make it better.”
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“I had a dream: I got everything I wanted,” she sings in almost a murmur at the song’s beginning. “Not what you think, and if I’m being honest/ It might have been a nightmare to anyone who might care.”
The song’s key lines come in the middle. “I tried to scream but my head was underwater/ They called me weak, like I’m just somebody’s daughter… It feels like yesterday was a year ago, but I don’t wanna let anybody know/ ‘Cuz everybody wants something from me now,” she continues, before concluding in a whisper, “And I don’t want to let them down.”
The song, which is driven by a gentle beatbox and soft, hazy keyboard riffs and loaded with echo, seems to conclude on a positive note, before turning ambivalent.
“And you say, ‘As long as I’m here, no one can hurt you/ Don’t wanna lie here, but you can learn to/ If I could change the way that you see yourself/ You wouldn’t wonder why you hear, ‘They don’t deserve you.’”
The ambivalence comes in the closing lines: “If I knew it all then, would I do it again?/ If they knew what they said would go straight to my head/ What would they say instead?”
Both musically and lyrically, it advances the work she and Finneas have done, and suggests an intriguing and, as usual, unexpected new direction for the new songs they’ve been cooking up.
There’s no certainty yet what the song is addressing, but if it’s a musing on fame, it’s a deep one — and apparently we’ll find out soon enough. Posting the song on Instagram, Eilish wrote: “‘everything i wanted’ OUT NOW EVERYWHERE 😊😊 dis one is special to me i’ll tell you why soon.”
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