Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Billie Eilish’s debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? came out just one year ago today. It seems like much longer. Her success now spans from Gen Z to boomers; she’s become omnipresent on every channel of the internet while also scoring the old-music-biz coup of sweeping the four top categories of the Grammys – the first person to do so since Christopher Cross in 1981.
We expect she’ll have a longer career than Cross. For one, she’s only 18, and seems to represent the cutting-edge of the zeitgeist more than Cross ever did. Admittedly, representing the cutting-edge of the zeitgest is a good way to become dated fast, but we suspect she’ll navigate the choppy waters ahead. No one ever asked Christopher Cross to do a Bond theme, after all (thank God).
So we’re celebrating her one and, to date, only album with the Full Album treatment. Usually a record has to be around for a few decades to amass enough covers to do this. In Billie’s case, we could have done it months ago. People of all ages, but very young people especially, raced to cover her songs. And not just her hits either, but the entire catalog. Someone even covered the 14-second album intro where Billie takes out her retainer! But we’ll skip ahead to the good stuff. (Duh.)
Bastille – Bad Guy
The most-covered song on the album faced some steep competition. But I’ve never heard it better than Bastille on the BBC’s Live Lounge, who not only gave the song a gritty pop-rock bounce, but worked in the Pulp Fiction theme and a few other “Bad”-titled pop songs. See if you can spot them all.
FIDLAR – Xanny
Bastille still too poppy for you? In a different radio session down under, FIDLAR gets even heavier with Pixies-esque explosions of noise. If Billie is now the new teenage generation’s irritate-your-parents music, this was what irritating your parents sounded like a few decades ago.
The Wrecks – You Should See Me in a Crown
In an alternate unverse, this would be the original, and Billie’s the wild genre-crossing cover. That doesn’t mean The Wrecks’ version is better than hers; it just shows how well one of Eilish and her brother Finneas’s more sonically adventurous productions translates to a more, shall we say, “normal” pop-rock arrangement.
Lux Perpetua – All the Good Girls Go to Hell
Hard-rock quintet Lux Perpetua makes Billie Eilish sound like Metallica with thick Polish accents. They work in “In the Air Tonight” for whatever reason, and I dig their red and black color scheme too.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Wish You Were Gay
A French radio session in the vein of the BBC’s “Live Lounge” or Triple J’s “Like a Version” with a much lower budget, OUI FM taped the heavily neck-tattooed Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes (or, in this case, one Rattlesnake) shortly after Eilish’s album came out. For a punk frontman, dude can sing and delivers a moving rendition of this slightly politically-incorrect song.
Gaeilge – When the Party’s Over
I had trouble deciding which Billie Eilish cover to put on our 2019 year-end list. We could have easily had ten. In the end Bastille’s “Bad Guy” triumphed, but this was a close runner-up. Singer Coláiste Lurgan translates the ballad Eilish played at the Grammys into traditional Irish Gaelic, and brings in a huge children’s choir for a stunningly choreographed video.
Alice Kristiansen – 8
Underneath the electronic production of Eilish’s “8,” a ukulele strums through. So no surprise that many, many YouTubers have taken the song to its acoustic extreme, keeping the four strings and dropping the rest. The most popular seems to be Alice Kristiansen’s, who delivers the song beautifully and can’t be any older than Billie herself.
Maiah Wynne ft. Dreadlight – My Strange Addiction
A full trio of YouTube cover teens, this time, though ones with much cooler gas-can guitars. Another red and black color scheme too. Is that a Billie Eilish trope I don’t know about?
J Hacha De Zola – Bury a Friend
J Hacha De Zola gets compared to Tom Waits a lot. Just saying that up front so you what you’re getting into here. As he does with every cover he touches, he brings his old-weird-America eccentricity to the cover. It sounds like something that would be played at some carnival freakshow. In a good way.
YMA Trio – Ilomilo
Look, I’m only human. If you put “Robot Percussion Cover” in your title, I’m going to click on it. And that incredible production is worth checking out. But I’ll give the slight edge to this much less YouTube-friendly cover by a Ukrainian group called YMA Trio. This static video stands little chance of going viral, but musically it works great. There’s no description so I can’t tell you what instruments they’re playing – anyone know?
Palace – Listen Before I Go
A sparse piano ballad that only gets loud and weird a few times, you’d think this would get covered more. But British trio Palace made their version count with a slightly shoegazey indie rock cover.
The Post Nobles – I Love You
“I Love You” is one of several songs on When We Fall Asleep that don’t sound like what the general public thinks of as Billie Eilish’s sound. It’s an acoustic guitar ballad. That’s it. There’s no twist. No electronic breakdown, no dubstep drop, no sarcastic asides. Eilish’s fans know this isn’t all that unusual, but hearing her in acoustic-balladeer mode might surprise people who only know the runaway success of “Bad Guy.” Long Island band The Post Notables make it slightly more “Eilish-y,” with a sudden drop – but, keeping our shoegaze theme going, it’s like if Mazzy Star songs had drops. (Bonus: This retro-soul version form Nacapur is cool too).
Bethany Freda – Goodbye
“Goodbye” is more an epilogue than a song, as Billie combined the opening lines of every one of the 12 preceding songs into a quavering synthy mediation. It’s the musical equivelent of when you had to complete high school papers with a short conclusion summarizing everything you just wrote (something Billie surely knows all about, being high school age herself). But if you think the song’s relative insignificance would mean no one had covered it…think again. Ernest-teen-YouTuber covers abound just as they do with every Billie Eilish song. The best I found though comes from Soundcloud, with Bethany Freda layering the voices even more densely than Billie does, for a near-a cappella rendition (“near” because a ukulele plucks occasionally in the background).