Recounting this episode, Billie sat cross-legged on the living-room couch at Finneas’s house, mashing her mismatched Air Jordan 1s into the cushions. Her hair was dyed ink-black with a seepage of acid green at the scalp, and she wore an all-black outfit: an oversize bowling shirt printed with an image of two women, wearing crowns, covered in blood and kissing, and cargo pants that, in their stylized profusion of straps and pockets, struck a compromise between goth and SWAT. As she spoke, I could see her left eyebrow twitching — Billie has been given a diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome, which manifests mainly in facial tics and muscle tensing. . . .And for this we gave her half the Grammys and made her very, very rich.
As today’s pop superstars go, Eilish is remarkable for her abiding interest in the grim and the upsetting. She has resuscitated an aesthetic of macabre transgression that has been almost entirely absent from the musical mainstream since the ’90s heyday of rock acts like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. In her lyrics, narrators murder their friends and liken lovers to hostages. In her music, bright singalong hooks are subsumed by bursts of distortion, and whisper-quiet verses are interrupted by shrieking samples of a dentist drill. In her videos, which she helps to devise and occasionally directs herself, she has cried black tears and released a large spider from her mouth. In one, faceless tormentors burn her with cigarette butts; in another, they jab her with syringes.
It's really hard to be too dark for America these days.
Which reminds me that for a long time I've been thinking about a post pointing out that by far the most popular site for artists to post their work online is called DeviantArt.