As this decade draws to a close, social media is littered with memes making you reflect on what you’ve achieved in the last 10 years of your life. It’s yet another example of society’s focus on tangible success, be that raking in the coin, bagging your dream job, or racking up stacks of desirable material goods. Billie Eilish could tick off all three of those points if she wanted to – and at 17, at that – but, on her first piece of new music since the release of ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’, she gives us a reminder of what’s really important in the quest for a successful life.
“I had a dream/I got everything I wanted,” she whispers over ghostly piano and a gently thudding beat. “But when I wake up I see/You with me.” You might assume she’s singing about a lover, gushing about them being the real prize in this money-driven world, but you’d be wrong. Written (as with all of her songs) with her older brother Finneas, ‘Everything I Wanted’ is actually an ode to the siblings’ unshakeable bond.
“This song is one my brother and I wrote about each other,” Eilish explained in a press release. “No matter what happens, we have always been and will be there to make it better.” It makes sense that the star would want to pay tribute to her familial relationships after the last two years of her life, which have seen her go from LA teenager with a dream to one of the biggest and most influential pop stars in the world. With Finneas her sole collaborator and touring partner, he’s been by her side through the entirety of her sharp ascendance to pop’s top table, witnessing the chaos that’s surrounded her every move up close.
It’s unclear which lines are Billie and which are Finneas, but ‘Everything I Wanted’’s message is cohesive and clear. The duo have got each other’s backs, be that protecting each other from the outside world and helping change their perceptions of themselves. “If I could change the way that you see yourself/You wouldn’t wonder why you hear, ‘They don’t deserve you’,” Eilish sings in crisp ASMR rushes on the chorus.
The idea of the pressures of fame and success being a thorn in the side of achieving your dreams as a pop star isn’t new, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something very real that Eilish has had to reckon with recently. She addresses that notion – and how her life has been stuck on the 16x fast forward setting – when she sings: “And it feels like yesterday was a year ago/But I don’t wanna let anybody know/Cos everybody wants something from me now/And I don’t wanna let them down.”
Later, she questions if she would put herself through all this if she had known what it would be like beforehand. An artist’s happiness and wellbeing are worth more than breaking records and creating Spotify smashes, but – as the beautiful ‘Everything I Wanted’ proves – pop culture in 2019 would certainly be far less exciting without Eilish around.