Meet the teen pop prodigy earning Nirvana comparisons

Billie Eilish is just your average teenager – if every kid her age had a driver’s license, Invisalign and nearly 3 billion streams to date. 

At 17, the singular pop rebel has achieved more than most artists do in their entire careers: She’s charted five singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (including “Bury a Friend,” which peaked at No. 14), racked up 15 million followers on Instagram, performed at Lollapalooza, and sold out three headlining tours in a matter of minutes. 

And with her debut album, “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” arriving this Friday, the fast-rising Los Angeles native is sure to garner the attention of many other music fans beyond her fiercely devoted Gen Z following. 

From celebrity supporters to rumored Illuminati ties, here’s everything you need to know about Eilish. 

“Pirate” is one of her three middle names

The singer was born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell to actors Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell, whose mutual TV credits include “The West Wing” and “Days of Our Lives.” Her first middle name was going to be “Pirate,” but “then my uncle had a problem with it because pirates are bad,” she explained to the BBC in 2017

Her brother is singer/actor Finneas O’Connell, who has recurred on shows including “Glee” and “Modern Family.” He produced and co-wrote much of Eilish’s debut album in their childhood home, where they both were homeschooled. 

Her breakout song was recorded for dance class

In 2015, Eilish’s dance teacher asked the then-13-year-old if she could record an original song for an upcoming recital. She and her brother uploaded the wistful pop ballad, “Ocean Eyes,” to SoundCloud soon after, which quickly caught the attention of various music blogs and her now-co-manager Danny Rukasin. 

“(He) reached out to my brother and was like, ‘Dude, this is going to get huge and I think you’re going to need help along the way. I want to help you guys,’ ” Eilish explained to Teen Vogue. “We were like, ‘That’s swag!’ “

“Ocean Eyes” has since garnered 92 million views on YouTube and 249 million streams on Spotify, having sold 176,000 downloads to date, according to Nielsen Music. It was featured on her 2017 EP “Don’t Smile at Me,” which blends elements of folk, electronic and R&B on viral hits such as “Bellyache” and “idontwannabeyouanymore.” 

Dave Grohl likens her influence to Nirvana’s

Eilish counts Lana Del Rey, Childish Gambino and Tyler, the Creator among her biggest inspirations, and has won famous fans in Shawn Mendes, Alicia Keys, Jared Leto and Dave Grohl. The Foo Fighters frontman raved about her during a music conference in Los Angeles last month, comparing the excitement around Eilish to that of his former band, Nirvana, during its heyday. 

“My daughters are obsessed with Billie Eilish,” Grohl said. “The same thing is happening with her that happened with Nirvana in 1991. Her music is hard to define, I don’t know what you call it. … But it’s authentic and I would call that rock ‘n’ roll. So I don’t care what sort of instruments you use to do it. People say, ‘Is rock dead?’ When I look at someone like Billie Eilish, I’m like, ‘Rock ‘n’ roll is not even close to being dead!’ ” 

Her “American Horror Story”-style videos have ruffled feathers 

With her baggy clothes, turquoise hair and introspective lyrics about depression and anxiety, Eilish has become a brooding pop idol for millions of teens who share her dark sensibilities and devil-may-care attitude. 

But the rising star has also courted controversy. Earlier this month, she released cheeky new single “Wish You Were Gay,” which she wrote about a boy who didn’t love her back and she later discovered was gay. “It’s so not supposed to be an insult,” Eilish told PopBuzz following backlash from LGBTQ fans. “The whole idea of the song is … ‘I wish you didn’t love me because you didn’t love girls.’ “

Her music videos have been similarly polarizing for their often-disturbing imagery, including extended shots of her crying black tears (“When the Party’s Over”), and getting tortured and injected by needles (“Bury a Friend”). Her appearance in the latter video as a black-eyed demon sparked online speculation that “I sold my soul to the Illuminati,” Eilish said with a laugh on web series “Hot Ones” this month. “I don’t really know what the Illuminati is, to be honest with you!”

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2019/03/26/billie-eilish-meet-teen-pop-prodigy-thats-been-compared-ni-next-nirvana-dave-grohl-says-rock-not-dea/3237167002/

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