Michael’s Music Corner: Is Billie Eilish the Modern-Day Cyndi Lauper?
Like many girls her age, my daughter has become a pretty big fan of Billie Eilish. When she first hit the scene, I wasn't exactly thrilled about her being a fan. While I thought her music was OK, my first impression of Billie Eilish was that her image was a little darker than what I'd prefer. When she first hit the scene, I feel like she had an "I hate the world" negative type of approach that I was unsure about.
She's definitely not about rainbows and unicorns, but she has certainly softened her image just a bit. She recently appeared on the Oscars singing the Beatles classic "Yesterday" while scrolling pictures and videos of the people Hollywood lost over the past year were displayed. It was a very broad audience for the 18-year-old and her brother, and she took full advantage.
She was also given the chance to write and record the new James Bond film's theme song. Billie seems to have adapted well to these mainstream opportunities. As a dad, I do admire the fact that Billie has consciously made a decision to make sure that her wardrobe doesn't sexualize her in any way.
Thinking more about it, though, Billie Eilish isn't a whole lot different from that of Cyndi Lauper or Madonna from the early days. When Lauper kicked off her career in 1983, her image wasn't a whole lot different from Billie. While she was quite a bit older than the 18-year-old star, Lauper presented with loud colored outfits and spiked hair. Her album was titled She's So Unusual. Very apropos.
Madonna might actually be a better example, but I don't feel like it's always fair to compare new artists to people like Madonna. Regardless, Madonna was in her mid-20s when she first came out. Her fashion style wasn't a whole lot different than that of Billie Eilish. Her strong, aggressive attitude is also comparable.
It will be interesting to watch Billie Eilish pivot with her music styles and image over the next several years. If she plays it right, she certainly has the talent to have the staying power of someone like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.