Billie Eilish continues to prove herself a powerhouse of minimalist pop. The third release from fourth album Happier Than Ever, ‘NDA’ marks a return to the horror thematic of When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? This is not to say Eilish is playing it safe. The cathartic single continues her musical evolution with a confronting and deeply personal confession.
Fans liken ‘NDA’ to Kanye West’s ‘808s & Heartbreak’
‘NDA’ is all but defined by its edgy, pulsing and distorted beat. Within hours of the single’s release, fans were already noting the song’s “Kanye West-style chorus.” It is a valid comparison. Eilish’s use of vocal recording techniques, like West’s, owes as much to hip hop production as to classic pop. Like Kanye, her lyrics get so personal, they run the risk of total self-evisceration.
The meaning of ‘NDA’
‘NDA’ embodies the drama and angst of adolescence. Eilish muses about quitting fame and disappearing entirely. Verses interrogate feelings of the good, bad and ugly of falling in love. They intersperse with a truly explosive chorus.
As the car and road thematic of the film clip suggests, Eilish is dealing with a period of transition. The gloomy nighttime setting makes it clear she is delving deeply into her darkest and innermost thoughts. She is letting go of old relationships while struggling with the restrictive lifestyle imposed by her enormous fame. (A situation further complicated by a stalker convinced he is Satan.).
And the coronavirus pandemic. Like the ongoing nature of the crisis itself, not to mention Eilish’s personal state of woe, ‘NDA’ has no firm conclusion. Despite her constant growth musically and personally, Eilish makes clear she is still navigating many of the difficulties in life her fans are.
Billie Eilish confronts angst head-on
‘NDA’ tackles angst head-on. Eilish sings about confronting the future and the pain of lost love. Despite this defiance of her innermost anxieties, there is still an undertone of regret and longing. Eilish is masterful at putting across meaning on multiple levels. Here she suggests there is always more going on below the surface. Which makes ‘NDA’ a powerful and catchy track.
The musical evolution of Billie Eilish
With Happier Than Ever only weeks away, fans now have a rough idea of what the album will present. It will see the signature ‘Eilish’ sound refined. It will still be bedroom pop, laced with a taste for eerie melodies and sombre lyricism. Eilish will continue to deliver pop singles instantly enjoyable to the broader public while adding those extra layers of meaning which make her music even more meaningful to dedicated fans.
Final thoughts on Billie Eilish and ‘NDA’
The three singles fans have heard from Happier Than Ever showcase a growing lyrical maturity while documenting Eilish’s rapid rise to fame. Eilish shifts deftly not just between musical styles or tones but songwriting perspectives. ‘Lost Cause’ displays her partying as an extroverted pop star. ‘Your Power’ casts light on her status as a victim of past sexual abuse within the seedy backside of the music industry. ‘NDA’ travels deeply into the shadowy feelings of her subconscious. There is little question that the stylistic turns each song takes will be hugely influential. Eilish is after all an artist who, while only 19-years-old, is changing the face of pop culture.
Billie Eilish 'NDA'8
Low regard for night walking safety rules