The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | Billie Eilish hits it hard and not at all soft with third studio album

Photo Courtesy of Genius
The official cover art for Billie Eilish’s third studio album, “HIT ME HARD AND SOFT,” which released on May 17.

Rating: 8.5/10


Just as nine-time Grammy-winner Billie Eilish is fully submerged underwater in the cover of her new album “HIT ME HARD AND SOFT,” fans worldwide are similarly drowning in its sorrow-filled hits. 

With its release on May 17, the 43-minute album showcases singer-producer duo Eilish and Finneas’ diverse nature, with lyricism encompassing topics like the crucifying public eye and changing relationships over time.

The 10-track album opens with “SKINNY,” which sees Eilish’s falsetto reeling listeners underwater as the lullaby-like guitar strings progress behind her vocals. 

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The song alludes to society’s judgment surrounding Eilish’s weight, which was previously addressed in “Overheated” and “Not My Responsibility” from her 2021-released album, “Happier Than Ever.”

“SKINNY” delves into other topics regarding falling in love and uncertainty underneath fame’s spotlight.

“Am I acting my age now?/ Am I already on the way out?/ When I step off the stage, I’m a bird in a cage/ I’m a dog in a dog pound,” Eilish sings.

The following track, “LUNCH,” individuates Eilish’s sexual exploration after coming out in Variety’s Power of Women cover story in November 2023. The sensuous lyrics, alongside the hard-hitting production, provide a vivaciously experimental tune that showcases a never-before-seen side of Eilish.

A segue away from the mainstream media and reality materializes in “CHIHIRO” by exploring the world of “Spirited Away,” a 2001 Japanese animated film that guided the artistic direction of “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” — Eilish’s debut album. 

References are evident in lyrics like “Said you won’t forget my name/ Not today, not tomorrow” and “Saw you turned around, but it wasn’t your face,” which imply the protagonist Chihiro’s inability to remember anything once she returned from the spirit world; the second quotation references Kaonashi, the no-faced spirit.

In “BIRDS OF A FEATHER,” Eilish fantasizes about everlasting love, contradicting track five, “WILDFLOWER,” which follows Eilish comforting a girl after a breakup, yet having a romantic relationship with the other person. It seems love only lasts forever in some cases.

“THE GREATEST” is reminiscent of “Happier Than Ever” at a sedated tempo with elongated line-by-line pronunciation. A plucky guitar unfolds into an atmospheric expanse around the three-minute mark as more guitars unleash in an uproar alongside Eilish’s overpowering vocal range.

The omnipresence of musicality and vocality is influential, and a strategic concluding lyric alteration from the first to the second chorus is a minuscule yet heartfelt tug that erupts in emotional tides ashore.

“Man, am I the greatest/ God, I hate it/ All my love and patience/ Unappreciated/ You said your heart was jaded/ You couldn’t even break it/ I shouldn’t have to say it/ You could’ve been the greatest,” Eilish sings.

The two-part divided structure — soft-sounding but eventually sweepingly expansive — prevails in “L’AMOUR DE MA VIE” and “BLUE,” both detailing the complexities of love. 

The French title, directly translating to “love of my life,” comprises a carefree air, with an overjoyed Eilish due to the relationship’s termination, admitting to the respective person they were, in truth, not the love of her life.

“Thought I was depressed or losing my mind/ My stomach upset almost all of the time/ But after I left, it was obvious why (Oh), mm/ Because for you, you/ I was the love of your life, mm/ But you were not mine (But you were not mine),” Eilish sings.

Contrastingly, “BLUE” revolves around the phrase “true blue,” meaning an undying loyalty toward a relationship irrespective of circumstances.

“THE DINER” and “BITTERSUITE” are not necessarily inferior songs, but they are somewhat forgettable between dynamically dominating tracks.

“THE DINER” is an effortless callback to the hauntingly, soul-stirring style throughout “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” — especially in “bad guy.” 

But the album’s previously established, intricately woven tracks cause “THE DINER” to leave a few crumbs on the plate, unlike “LUNCH,” in which Eilish ate the entire meal and then another.

On the other hand, “BITTERSUITE” follows a similar layout to previous songs, as it’s split into two stylistically distinct parts — however, Finneas’ immeasurable production throughout the track’s five minutes muddle Eilish, leaving her to become engulfed by the water with no buoy to stay afloat.

The transformative essence and complexity of each track provide a maturing narrative for the 22-year-old after some considered “Happier Than Ever” as her flop era. As a response, Eilish has never been more open or honest — or louder, for that matter — with the release of this album.


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About the Contributor
Chloe Barbarise
Chloe Barbarise, Senior Copy Editor
My name is Chloe Barbarise, and I am a freshman majoring in journalism. I joined The Daily Illini in Fall 2023 as a copy editor and worked my way up to Senior Copy Editor during the second semester. I am honored to have this opportunity and cannot wait to bring you stories complete with AP Style and DI Style edits. When I am not partaking in editing stories for The DI, I am writing, reading or drinking some sort of coffee. I’m very excited to see what lies ahead of us.
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