“everything i wanted” offers a unique perspective on mental health as a social epidemic in society as we know it. It’s no secret that music is an incredibly powerful tool for extracting some of the strongest emotions and reactions from us; think about how pumped an upbeat, fast-paced song can make you at a sports game, or how a slow, dramatic melody can move an audience to tears. Music is often used as a means of dealing with stress – it’s depended on widely as a sort of “mood booster”. Something magical can happen when listening to a song you really love when you’re down or in need of a little extra excitement. In recent studies, such as this case, it has been shown that music holds the capability of relieving some of the effects of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Technology has allowed for music to be listened to anytime, anywhere, making the music world a much more universally-used and appreciated source of connection. All of these factors contribute to the important role the music industry has on influencing its users. In the past decade, anxiety and depression rates in young adults has sky-rocketed, with the rate of admissions for suicidal teenagers nearly doubling. Mental health has become a buzzword when it comes to social culture today and the music industry has a unique direct relationship to potential alleviation from the grips of anxiety and depression so many music-listeners face. Not only can music help those suffering from mental health issues, it has recently become a more popular platform for advocating for more open-dialogue about the topic – the message Eilish conveys in “everything i wanted”. From a combination of first and second person narrative, Eilish dives into the raw emotion of being and consoling someone suffering from suicidal thoughts and depression; a rising crisis in the day and age of technology-triggered anxieties. 

Historically, mental health issues were deemed as being a flaw to the structure of society. The stigma was built upon the notion that being “different” should inflict shame or embarrassment for what sets them apart from others. The reality is that about one in five people experiences a mental illness in their lifetime, making talk about mental health far from shameful or unreachable. The candidness of the first person narrative offers insight into the disturbed inner-dialogue Eilish has with herself in the first verse:  “I had a dream / I got everything I wanted /Not what you think / And if I’m being honest / It might’ve been a nightmare / To anyone who might care / Thought I could fly (fly) / So I stepped of the golden / Nobody cried (cried, cried, cried, cried) / Nobody even noticed”. Here, Eilish challenges the stigma of mental health by opening with a rather jarring, explicit thought-process about committing suicide. The topic is introduced abruptly and in a nonchalant manner, a deliberate move by Eilish to support the idea of being truthful and comfortable sharing one’s mental struggles. She recounts several other jarring insights in favor of owning her darkside, including verses “I tried to scream / But my head was underwater / They called me weak / Like I’m not just somebody’s daughter”. Another slightly approach to normalizing the dialogue of mental health is Eilish’s insinuation of continuing to struggle with her issues despite being famous as she says, “If they knew what they said would go straight to my head / What would they say instead?”; a description that could be used to compare how criticism exacerbates her mental health issues.  

Eilish has received substantial recognition for her overt stance on mental health expressed in the single. Articles for Meaww, Bustle, and StyleCaster recognize Eilish’s efforts to emphasize the importance of mental well-being. But there’s plenty of music about why mental health is important – so why does “everything i wanted” get so much recognition? Eilish has capitalized on her outbreak as a frequent Pop chart topper by creating such a head-on approach to delivering the subject. Her bluntness has conveyed an opposite stance to that of mental health’s historical stigma; instead of keeping her mental health issues to herself, she states them loud and proud. Not only is this an effective approach to normalizing mental health discussions, her choice of incorporating the supportive words of her brother in response to her struggles to show the support that can come of being open with others. She does this in verses: “And you say, ‘As long as I’m here / No one can hurt you / Don’t wanna lie here / But you can learn to / If I could change / The way that you see yourself / You wouldn’t wonder why you’re here / They don’t deserve you”. By juxtaposing her raw commentary with a warm, loving response, it provides the notion that opening up about issues can result in that amount of support in return. 

Eilish’s approach to normalizing mental health awareness aims to exploit the spreadability of pop music to express the benefits of sharing personal mental hardships as a step of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

More on Billie Eilish’s mental health advocacy found here.