Billie Eilish Has an Intense Nightmare in Her Grammy-Nominated Song “Everything I Wanted”

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Starr Bowenbank
·5 min read
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Photo credit: Gary Miller - Getty Images
Photo credit: Gary Miller - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Trigger warning: This post contains mentions of suicide.

In case you haven’t been up to date on the music cycle, know that your favorite pop enigma Billie Eilish is currently up for three (3) Grammy Awards tonight in the Best Pop Solo Performance, Song and Record of the Year categories for her tear-jerking song, “Everything I Wanted”—guess it left the members of the Recording Academy sobbing in a puddle of tears too. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Behind the song’s twinkling piano keys and wavering, melancholic synth instrumentals, Billie grapples with her sudden fame and opens up about a terrifying nightmare she had about dying by suicide. Thankfully, it was just a dream, but it’s a painful reminder that Billie, despite her superstar status, is still a human being who has her own personal experiences with mental health issues.

Before you go ahead and blast this song before the timely hour of sad b*tch o’clock, allow me to decode these lyrics for you so you can truly understand the way Billie was feeling when she wrote it.

[Verse 1]
I had a dream
I got everything I wanted
Not what you’d think
And if I’m bein’ honest
It might’ve been a nightmare
To anyone who might care

You may not have noticed, but Billie frequently sings about her connection to her dreams. Her debut album is literally called When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? so it kinda goes without saying that her dreams influence her music.

In an interview with The Fader, Billie explained the role that her dreams play in her life. “Dreams are a really intense part of my life,” she said. “I’ll go through a month where I’ll have the same nightmare every single night—a dream that’s so bad that the whole day is off or a dream that’s so good that none of it’s true.”

Thought I could fly (fly)
So I stepped off the Golden, mm
Nobody cried (cried, cried, cried, cried)
Nobody even noticed
I saw them standing right there
Kinda thought they might care (might care, might care)

Here, Billie starts delving into the contents of her nightmare and confesses to the listener that she “stepped off the Golden”—aka San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge—to die by suicide. And if that weren’t terrible enough already, everyone in Billie’s life, fans included, couldn’t have cared less.

Billie spoke about the meaning of “Everything I Wanted” to BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac and said:

“We [Billie and her brother, Finneas] started writing it because I literally had a dream that I killed myself and nobody cared and all of my best friends and people that I worked with basically came out in public and said, like, ‘Oh, we never liked her.’ In the dream, the fans didn’t care. The internet shit on me for killing myself, all this stuff, and it really did mess me up.”

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[Pre-Chorus]
I had a dream
I got everything I wanted
But when I wake up, I see
You with me

[Chorus]
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’re here, they don’t deserve you”

This portion of the song alludes to Billie’s close relationship with her brother, Finneas. In the lyrics, Finneas reassures Billie that he’ll always be there for her and support her no matter what. “Pretty much that whole song is about me and Finneas’s relationship as siblings,” she told Annie Mac. “The message behind the song is, like…my brother is my best friend, and I have these dreams and these things happen, and no matter what happens, he’s gonna always be there for me, and it’s the same the other way around.”

[Verse 2]
I tried to scream
But my head was underwater
They called me weak
Like I’m not just somebody’s daughter
Coulda been a nightmare
But it felt like they were right there
And it feels like yesterday was a year ago
But I don’t wanna let anybody know
’Cause everybody wants something from me now
And I don’t wanna let ’em down

The second verse references Billie’s nightmare about dying but then begins to focus on the pressure she feels when it comes to fame, primarily with keeping her fans happy and never wanting to let them down. It’s a heavy burden for a teen to bear, and Billie already has the world on her shoulders.

In conclusion: Billie Eilish struggles with feelings of isolation, much like we all do, and she chooses to be open about that in her songs. But the silver lining here is she has her big brother by her side to help her out when times are tough. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be listening to this track on repeat and wallowing in my feels for the rest of the day.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or message the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

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