Earlier this week, Billie Eilish announced that her new album will be called ‘Happier Than Ever’ and preceded by a single called ‘Your Power’. On the surface, things looked positive, those titles denoting contentment and awe. But, as her face damp with recent tears on the album’s artwork hinted, you should never take the teen superstar’s moves at face value.
The last time we heard from Eilish, she was scoffing at someone with a high opinion of themselves on ‘Therefore I Am’: “What the hell are you talking about?” she posed. For the third single from the upcoming record (its tracklist will include 2020’s ‘Therefore I Am’ and ‘my future’), she dials down the attitude to present something softer and quieter, but even more powerful.
“Try not to abuse your power,” she sings over melancholy acoustic guitar in ‘Your Power’s opening line. It’s an introduction to a rumination on the bad guys of the world taking advantage of their authority and the many different forms of power imbalance that exist, carefully and thoughtfully laid out.
“And you swear you didn’t know/No wonder why you didn’t ask,” Eilish mournfully chides at one point, weariness trembling in her feather-soft vocals. “She was sleeping in your clothes/But now she’s got to get to class.” Abuse at the hands of someone much older than the young woman she sings of is something she returns to later, this time calling out the situation more explicitly: “And you swear you didn’t know/You said you thought she was your age/How dare you?”
It’s not just elder creeps that are the target of her quietly seething anger though. Pop’s brightest young star briefly switches to sing in the first person to share an experience of being gaslit. “I thought that I was special, you made me feel/ Like it was my fault you were the devil,” she murmurs.
Eilish makes some sage points that challenge the remorse we see from people caught up in allegations of this kind. “Will you only feel bad when they find out?” she questions. The next time that query tumbles out of her mouth it feels even more pointed: “Will you only feel bad if it turns out that they kill your contract?”
‘Your Power’ might be simple but it’s yet another example of Eilish’s remarkable talents. In keeping things stripped back the song draws you into an intimate space, as its creator confronts you with her haunting voice and uncomfortable tales. Its minimal form leaves the space to make you think, its message lingering long after its time’s up – and it’s one we should all ponder very closely.