Seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is heading to Manchester Arena in June 2022 with Happier Than Ever, The World Tour.
The 20-year-old artist has had an incredible few years. She rose to meteoric fame in 2019 with her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go – a bass-heavy, gothic pop record that had parents around the world wringing their hands while their children rejoiced at a pop star being weird and depressed just like them. Tracks like the electro-leaning ‘Bad Guy’ and the gorgeously minimalist ‘When The Party’s Over’ – both penned when she was just 16 – introduced us to a precocious new talent that would quickly take the music industry by storm.
Written entirely by Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell (who also produced it), the album draws comparisons with the eerie-yet-catchy music of precursors Lorde and Lana Del Ray, and yet it’s decidedly unique in character, as is the artist herself. From her fiercely individual fashion choices to her willingness to be vulnerable and self-deprecating in interviews, Eilish is never resigned to what a typical pop star should sound like, look like, say or care about. And that, in the world of megastardom, is pretty rare.
Cue Eilish reinventing both her sound and her image for album number two, Happier Than Ever (2021), whose cover sees her shun the green hair and hip-hop threads in favour of peak Hollywood bombshell. Contrasting hypermodern electronics with sepia-toned balladry, the record finds the still-frustratingly-young artist two years wiser as she reflects on her rapid ascent to fame and all its accompanying horrors. As one of the media’s favourite specimens to dissect, her lyrical goal here seems to be to take control of her own narrative, and to celebrate who she is, not who people want her to be. “So while I feel your stares, your disapproval or your sigh of relief,” she murmurs on ‘Not My Responsibility. “If I lived by them, I’d never be able to move.”
Celebrating this journey of self-discovery is the woozy, effortlessly melodic single ‘My Future’, which finds her in quiet exhilaration as she proves herself a modern master of the ballad. Opening with mellow electric piano, a classic torch song soon gives way to vintage funk-pop, full of soulful blue notes that feel totally different to the claustrophobic electronica of her debut. Not to say that Eilish has abandoned her sharper edge; tracks like ‘Oxytocin’, which frames her characteristic ASMR-like whisper in the context of an all-out dance track, are as dark and abrasive as anything on her debut. Moreover the title track, which sees Eilish ceremoniously chuck out a toxic boyfriend, begins with dainty instrumental orchestration before giving way to a tumult of blown-out guitars and full bodied bellows – a massive departure from the artist’s famous understatement.
Eilish had to cancel the tour she had planned for early 2021. She made this album instead. That already makes her show at Manchester Arena on 8 June worth waiting for.