If the world of pop music were like Game of Thrones, then Billie Eilish would be Arya Stark, the wild-eyed teen who quickly became master of the domain. Precocious and peripatetic, Eilish has carved a niche in the music business with a chainsaw, occupying her own unique place at the intersection of multiple industry trends: streaming services, social media, fashion, women's empowerment. She was, by any objective standard, the biggest thing in music last year, so her current tour could be considered a victory lap. That includes a stop in Orlando, where she'll be at the Amway Center on Tuesday.
Eilish hits Orlando for the second night of her "Where Do We Go?" tour, which begins the night before and includes later stops in all the major U.S. cities, as well as around the world. Of the 60 concerts currently booked, 35 have already sold out at the time of writing, and the tour hasn't even started yet.
Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O'Connell was born in Los Angeles, where she still lives, in 2001, the synesthetic second child of an artistic family. Her influences span far and wide, but the most important was probably Justin Bieber, which might rank among the most mind-blowing factoids in all music history, second only to Beethoven being deaf. She released a number of streaming singles, starting with "Ocean Eyes" in 2016, building an underground brand that went mainstream off the success of "You Should See Me in a Crown" in 2018.
2019 was her most successful year to date. So successful, in fact, that it will be difficult for her, or anyone else, to exceed it. Eilish began it on the road, opening two Australian shows on Florence and the Machine's "High as Hope" tour. (Among others, Lizzo also worked on that tour, which makes it perhaps the most formative tour in recent memory.) Her first album, When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, was released on March 29, and it was off to the races from there.
Coming off the most successful rookie year since wrestler Kurt Angle, Eilish began 2020 with her formal debut in the American pop culture mainstream. She dominated the 62nd Grammys on Jan. 26, winning five of the six awards she was nominated for, including Album of the Year and, of course, Best New Artist. A few days earlier, she was tapped to record the title track for No Time to Die, the upcoming 25th James Bond film. Speaking to Good Morning America earlier in February, Eilish's enthusiasm was apparent: "Dude, it was crazy, it's literally been something that Finneas and I have wanted to do for years."
The resulting song (co-written and produced by her older brother, Finneas) dropped on Feb. 13, drawing more than 8 million Spotify streams in its first two days and scoring the top spot on the Billboard charts.
But wait, there's more. In February, she landed the March cover of Vogue, one of the youngest women ever to do so. That is doubly interesting because, of all the words one could use to describe her, "chic" is probably not near the top. Indeed, Eilish's aesthetic, as reflected in her public persona and her own clothing line(s), runs overtly counter to mainstream fashion, from her bright green hair to her baggy clothes (designed to deflect the creeps and keep the focus on her art). As such, her presence on the cover underscores just how rapid her rise has truly been.
"The whole time I've been getting this one sentence, like, 'I'm a rule-breaker,'" she told Vogue. "I'm flattered that people think that, but it's like, where, though? What rule did I break? The rule about making classic pop music and dressing like a girly girl? I never said I'm not going to do that. I just didn't do it."
Having (not) done all this, the only question is, what will she (not) do next? Based on current trends, the likely answer is "whatever she wants," and we are here for all of it.
– This story appears in the March 4, 2020, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly newsletters.