Track Review: Billie Eilish Gets Philosophic On “Therefore I Am”

Following her stunning “No Time to Die” for the upcoming James Bond soundtrack and her poignant “my future,” Billie Eilish is back again with her third new song of 2020: “Therefore I Am.”

Steeped in the fuzzy jazz influences of her foundational dont smile at me EP, “Therefore I Am” calls back to Billie’s early work and blends those sounds with something more swaggering and self-assured. Billie’s new single interestingly, if not unexpectedly, blends classic philosophy with a whole-hearted middle finger to her detractors. The title, “Therefore I Am,” is derived from Descartes’ seminal phrase “I think, therefore I am.” The guiding philosophical principle is sung in the final line of each chorus and grounds the song thematically. Basically, Descartes is saying that since he was the one doubting his existence it wasn’t actually possible for his existence to be doubted. Billie connects Descartes’ concern with the existence of himself to the different worlds and worldviews that people create for themselves: “Top of the world, but your world isn’t real/Your world’s an ideal.” In spite of the endless “interviews” and “articles,” Billie reminds us that she exists in a world much better and greater than ours, not through riches and luxury, but through pure security in herself.

Billie’s confidence and overall joy are apparent through her playful, and sometimes sarcastic, vocal performance. Like on “my boy” from dont smile at me, Billie slips into charismatic and memorable spoken word bits (“I really couldn’t care less/And you can give ’em my best”) to add further character and color to the song. It’s been really interesting and heartwarming to hear Billie’s vocal performance get progressively less melancholy as she grows as an artist and as a person. Her Grammy-winning debut, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go, could get incredibly dark at times, but “Therefore I Am” is snarky blend of optimism and confidence. FINNEAS’ trademark blend of hip-hop and dark pop is decidedly more uptempo in a way more similar to “bad guy” than “ocean eyes.” “Therefore I Am” is more sonically related to Billie’s biggest hits, so it will likely be the most successful non-soundtrack song Billie has released this year. Right now, all signs point to anything but a sophomore slump for Billie.

Score: 78

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