KahnJunction: Billie Eilish and Her Timeless Style

Billie Eilish attends the Oscar after party with her brother
Billie Eilish continues to amass fans and top performance charts while cultivating a unique style and persona.
Credit: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Some styles are captivating yet alien capturing an unusual spirit of, simply put, oddity. The beloved Billie Eilish possesses one of these styles. 

 At 18, Eilish has rested comfortably at the top of most charts since her first release in 2016, an achievement known to few performers, even those who are more seasoned.  

At the most recent Grammy Awards, she took home five awards:  Best Album, Best Song, Best New Artist, Best Record, and Best Pop Vocal Album. Not only is Eilish talented, but she is stunningly original in almost everything that she does: her performances, fashion, and persona. This newfound success makes a deep dive into her fashion more timely than ever. 

Eilish’s fashion could be described simply as avant-garde athleisure. This athleisure spans from  tracksuits and beanies to plus-size button-ups making her look a subtle nod to the most notable of her inspirations:  90s East Coast Hip-Hop However, Eilish dresses with a purpose explaining to Seventeen, 

Nobody can have an opinion because they haven’t seen what’s underneath. Nobody can be like, ‘she’s slim-thick,’ ‘she’s not slim-thick,’ ‘she’s got a flat ass,’ ‘she’s got a fat ass.’ No one can say any of that because they don’t know.

Much of what Eilish wears is not what can be described as conventionally flattering. As she said in her interview with Seventeen, what she wears is often designed to conceal rather than accentuate her figure; what draws looks is not her figure, but the simple fact that her style is different than what almost anyone else in the public eye is wearing.

Often, attempts by an artist to breach their barriers in favor of more experimentation is received with scoff from fans and foes alike leading many to believe that they are “trying too hard”. At the 2020 GRAMMY awards, Billie Eilish could have walked out wearing just about anything, and we would have all just nodded our heads, and gone, “Yea, looks about right.” When she rolled up in a Gucci, layered black and neon green ensemble featuring a Gucci facemask, nobody familiar with Eilish’s unique style batted an eye. Her attempts at going against fashion norms are expected and generally well received. 

Billie Eilish, however, is uninterested in her look being exclusive, prompting her to launch “Blohsh” (Blōhsh), her latest clothing line (geared towards children and young adults). Items from t Blohsh’s catalog mirrors the Eilish look: baggy, bright, and bold. Her merchandise falls comfortably into t “edgy”, a category for the sacrificial lambs at the cruel altar of Spencer’s or Hot Topic. Nonetheless, it is  a cut above the typical carnage of teenage wastelands. 

What will set Eilish apart from the rest? Her genuine spirit and charisma colors her work and, often, her attire. This, aided by her strong sense of individualism, she will continue to navigate the razor thin line between edge and cringe. 

But, her merch is not for everyone though. Her merch is weird. Everything in her collection is like something out of a low-grade-fever-dream, in that something in the design, right up to the brand’s logo, is always just slightly off. You may not even recognize it at first, but there is always something odd about the various pieces in her collection. Whether it is a design that looks like it was sketched by a child dabbling in hallucinogens, or the neon color that will jump out at people from across the street, the merch appears to be designed to be somewhat uncanny. This unsettling quality permeates through Eilish’s music, videos, album art, performances, and now, her brand. 

As we approach a time when music feels less diverse than ever, an artist breaking against the grain is refreshing. For her critics who claim she has fallen victim to the   “not like other girls” trope, I hope and believe that she proves them wrong and stands the test of time. An entire industry and fans would be eternally grateful. 

Benjamin Kahn is a staff writer for the UB Post. He writes a weekly column, KahnJunction. 

Why the Grammys Are Completely Irrelevant

Billy Eilish (left) and Finneas O’Connell at The Grammys press room on Sunday, January 26th 2020. Photo Credit: Chris Pizzello, AP Photo

The Grammys are irrelevant. 

They tell people what they should listen to, all the while most of the music they celebrate has a basic beat with recycled melodies and lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some Grammy winning albums, including 2019’s This Land by Gary Clark Jr, which won best contemporary blues album at this year’s awards, but for the most part, the awards are given to artists who simply didn’t deserve them.

Now you might be thinking I just hate modern music. You might be thinking I’m a snob who doesn’t appreciate quips from Billie Eilish about her Invisalign (which was literally the entire first track on her freshman effort), but to me this isn’t a modern issue. The Grammys have always lacked integrity. They do not recognize enough musical and songwriting talent. They recognize the airplay that puts songs at the top of the charts and sell out to the masses who are resistant to music that doesn’t follow a certain guideline as to what constitutes a single or a hit song.

For reference, The Beatles only won four Grammy awards while the group was together. Yes, you read that right. The infamous songwriting team of Lennon/McCartney coupled with the talent of George Harrison and Ringo Starr won less than five awards while playing music together. Their music is widely considered to be some of the best Pop/Rock music ever written. The Beatles are perhaps the benchmark that any concurrent artists measure their success upon and they won fewer Grammy awards than the Dixie Chicks

The Beatles aren’t alone in a lack of awards for such talented musicians. Led Zeppelin only ever won one award, and that was only for the live album Celebration Day in 2014, which many Zeppelin fans consider to be a subpar performance. Otis Redding, the father of R&B, won two. Nas, Queen and The Who are among those artists who have never won a Grammy.

This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy the music of Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish or Lizzo. After all, tastes in music are purely subjective. However, listeners look beyond tracks that win the awards or top the charts and focus on songs that contain substance and are profound works of art. Notice the similarities in labels and producers among albums and songs you listen to and you might be surprised. You might even find the best band you’ve never heard in your life.

And maybe go throw on a copy of Let It Be, which unbelievably never won a Grammy.

Tony Sheaffer is a senior writer for the UB Post. He writes a weekly music column, Friday Groove.