You have to hand it to Billie Eilish for making absolutely no attempt to gloss over the unhappier parts of pop stardom.
In her haunting new single, “Your Power” — which dropped Thursday morning not long after the 19-year-old singer announced that her highly anticipated sophomore album, “Happier Than Ever,” is set for release on July 30 — Eilish depicts a destructive relationship in which a predatory older man takes advantage of a younger woman.
“She said you were a hero / You played the part,” she sings in her trademark whisper amid a dreamy acoustic arrangement, “But you ruined her in a year / Don’t act like it was hard.” Throughout the tune, Eilish keeps shifting the narrative point of view, and she certainly never names any names. But the song’s showbiz setting seems apparent when she asks the guy, “Will you only feel bad if it turns out that they kill your contract?”
Written by Eilish and produced as always by her brother Finneas, “Your Power” — which arrives accompanied by a stark music video showing Eilish perched on a windswept Simi Valley mountainside with an 80-pound anaconda wrapped around her — is just the latest in a series of recent singles in which she offers an unvarnished picture of life since her Grammy-sweeping 2019 debut, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”
Last year she sang about hangers-on looking to capitalize on her name in “Therefore I Am”; before that she wondered in “Everything I Wanted” if getting precisely that was a dream or a nightmare. (In an ironic twist, “Everything I Wanted” won a Grammy last month for record of the year.)
Yet “Your Power” might be her most clear-eyed — and most earnest — indictment of the complicated dynamics at play in any situation where age, gender and celebrity meet.
“Try not to abuse your power / I know we didn’t choose to change,” Eilish sings near the end of the song, “You might not wanna lose your power / But power isn’t pain.”