Crate Digging Weekly: Reflecting on Billie Eilish’s first EP, “dont smile at me”

“While her debut album, “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO” topped charts, I believe that her debut EP “dont smile at me” is even better due to the profound lyrics, unique sound, and the sheer talent of young Eilish,” writes Managing Editor Kendall Little.


Album cover courtesy of Darkroom and Interscope Records

Kendall Little, Managing Editor

19-year-old Billie Eilish just won a 2021 Grammy Award for Record of the Year after three years of booming success in the music industry. While her debut album, “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO” topped charts, I believe that her debut EP “don’t smile at me” is even better due to the profound lyrics, unique sound, and the sheer talent of young Eilish.

The EP showcases Eilish’s confidence and no-nonsense attitude right off the bat with the title: “don’t smile at me.” The simple, yet bold statement tells listeners that Eilish didn’t come to amuse anyone but herself.

Eilish released the EP at only 16-years-old. It oozes confidence that artists at far older ages still do not possess. Every track on the 2017 EP showed that Eilish would be a stand-out star in the coming years.

The first song on the EP titled “COPYCAT,” introduces Eilish to listeners as a powerful force to be reckoned with. 

“I don’t belong to anyone but everybody knows my name,” Eilish sings.

The song goes into detail about how Eilish is so iconic that people copy her every action.

“Copycat tryna cop my manner. Watch your back when you can’t watch mine,” she continues in the chorus.

The bridge is where Eilish starts to break the boundaries of current music at the time. She transitions the song into a slow piano-backed melody which gives listeners the impression that Eilish changed her stance on how she feels about the so-called copycats before quietly, yet intimidatingly saying “psych” and continuing the song.

“COPYCAT” is one of the strongest opening songs to an album or EP I’ve ever heard.

The EP only gets stronger as it goes on though. 

The next track, “idontwannabeyouanymore,” is a major shift in tone as Eilish sings an emotional ballad that reflects on her sense of self. It’s a vulnerable and raw piece that connects her to the listeners. 

“Was I made from a broken mold? Hurt, I can’t shake. We’ve made every mistake. Only you know the way that I break,” Eilish sings slowly and painfully. 

It’s a common feeling, especially amongst teenagers, to not like yourself and wish you were someone else. Eilish captures this feeling perfectly in three minutes and twenty-four seconds.

“my boy” is one of my favorite songs on the EP due to its clever lyrics in which Eilish realizes that her partner isn’t treating her the way he should.

“My boy’s an ugly crier but he’s such a pretty liar and by that I mean he said he’d change,” she sings in a low octave accompanied by dark electronic music.

Eilish chose to include “watch” right after “my boy,” which makes the two tracks seem like they’re in chronological order. It’s almost like the two songs create a short story.

“watch” is about Eilish seeking closure to a relationship after realizing that her partner isn’t the one for her. 

“Your love feels so fake and my demands aren’t high to make,” she sings.

After realizing her worth and that her relationship isn’t going to work, Eilish sings that her partner can “go ahead and watch my heart burn with the fire that you started in me, but I’ll never let you back to put it out.”

The song feels empowering as Eilish realizes that she is worth more than her partner is giving her. She expects more out of her relationships and has higher standards for how she should be treated. The music is loud and powerful as it matches Eilish’s lyrics and feelings.

The next track on the EP, “party favor,” shifts gears to a softer and sweeter type of song. 

It begins with Eilish singing in a light voice accompanied by a ukulele. The instrumentals in this song are far different than the previous tracks as they’re softer and less aggressive. 

The song is written as a voicemail message that Eilish leaves for her partner, breaking up with them. 

“Look, now I know we coulda done it better, but we can’t change the weather when the weather’s come and gone,” she sings in a soft, non-accusatory tone. 

The track shows a softer side of Eilish, showing that she isn’t always as intimidating as she makes herself out to be.

The sixth song on the EP is one of my all-time favorite Eilish songs. Titled “bellyache,” Eilish essentially tells a story about how she lost her mind and killed all her friends. 

The offbeat lyrics with the casual guitar-strumming makes the song a stand-out on the album.

Eilish completely embodies her character and captures the intensity and pure insanity of the situation. 

She isn’t completely bulletproof in the story though, as the song highlights her anxiety.

“I’m bitin’ my nails, I’m too young to go to jail, it’s kinda funny,” Eilish sings.

She was only 16-years-old when this song was released, showing that she had raw talent that couldn’t go unnoticed.

The track that brought Eilish to fame is the slow and longing ballad “ocean eyes.”

The song captures how scary it is to fall in love and how vulnerable it makes you.

“I’m scared. I’ve never fallen from quite this high, fallin’ into your ocean eyes,” she sings throughout the chorus. 

Though it’s not my favorite track on the EP, it will always be special to me because it’s the one that kick-started Eilish’s career and propelled her to success.

The EP ends with “hostage” and “&burn.” 

“hostage” illustrates Eilish’s longing for someone and how badly she wants to be with them.

“You’re all I wanted. Just let me hold you like a hostage,” she sings, showing that she wants them so bad that she’s willing to imprison them in her heart.

The music behind the lyrics is very slow and powerful; it almost puts the listener into a trance.

I believe that Eilish should have left “hostage” as the last track on the EP to give a powerful ending to her debut collection, but she included “&burn” to round off the EP.

“&burn” is a remix of the song  “watch,” featuring Vince Staples. 

The song isn’t needed to complete the EP and really should have only been released as a single. 

As a whole, Eilish’s debut EP shows her potential as a singer and songwriter. She demonstrates immense talent all the way through the EP whether it be with lyrics, vocals, or the way the song is put together as a whole. 

She’s only gotten better as she’s gotten older, but “dont smile at me” will forever be my favorite collection of songs by Eilish.

Kendall Little is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @klittlewrites.