April 23, 2019

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A Staple Gun. A Dental Drill. See How Billie Eilish Made a Haunted Pop Hit.

A Staple Gun. A Dental Drill. See How Billie Eilish Made a Haunted Pop Hit.
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Billie Eilish, 17, is part of a new generation of unlikely pop acts with D.I.Y. in their DNA.

Using an internet-first approach, Eilish has amassed a powerful teen following by adhering only to her most specific, and often strangest, musical whims, earning more than a billion total song streams already, before the release of her debut album last Friday.

Her songs mix elements of electronic pop and hip-hop with an alternative bent, and are written and recorded solely with her older brother Finneas, 21, usually in the small bedrooms of their parents’ Los Angeles home. But “Bury a Friend,” one of Eilish’s darkest and most successful songs to date, came together from more disparate sources, including a rare visit to a proper studio and a dentist’s chair, where Eilish captured the horrendous whirring of a drill that was later added to the track.

Despite its horror-movie sound effects, odd structure and nightmare lyrics, “Bury a Friend” peaked this year at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, and its grisly video has been viewed more than 100 million times. The song is also currently rising at alt-rock radio, as Eilish ascends to further mainstream heights with her first full-length, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” which is dominating streaming services and expected to hit No. 1 on next week’s album chart.

In the video above, featuring a cameo from the siblings’ mother, Maggie, see how Eilish and her brother are reinventing teen-pop stardom with tracks like “Bury a Friend.”

“Diary of a Song” pulls back the curtain on how pop music is made today, using archival material — voice memos, demo versions, text messages, emails, interviews and more — to tell the story behind the track. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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