Billie Eilish dropped a new single titled “my future” in late July, the first new music she’s released since “No Time to Die” in February of 2020 for the 25th James Bond film. Co-written and produced by her brother, Finneas O’Connell, Eilish wrote the song in only two days during quarantine. “My future” is a deeply personal and pensive song about self-love whose balance of lyricism and tonality, as well as its accompanying music video, leaves listeners feeling optimistic during uncertain times.
The ballad, with hints of lo-fi, soul and jazz, begins with a subdued, gloomy melody reflecting the melancholy first verse: “I can’t seem to focus and you don’t seem to notice I’m not here. I’m just a mirror. You check your complexion to find your reflection’s all alone. I had to go.”
The first verse reveals that Eilish recently exited a relationship with somebody. The verse’s metaphorical use of the mirror references her 2017 song “idontwannabeyouanymore,” a self-reflective song in which Eilish confronts her insecurities and lack of confidence. “I had to go” refers to Eilish stepping out of both her previous relationship and that era of self-abasement.
The first pre-chorus ends with the words “I’ve changed my plans,” setting the stage for the coming three-part transition —lyrical, tonal and, on a deeper level, a lifestyle transition for Eilish. In the chorus, Eilish sings, “‘Cause I, I’m in love with my future, can’t wait to meet her. And I, I’m in love but not with anybody else, just wanna get to know myself.”
In an email sent to her fans, Eilish wrote, “when we wrote this song, it was exactly where my head was at—hopeful, excited and a craaaazy amount of self-reflection and self-growth. But recently it has also taken on a lot of new meaning in the context of what’s happening in the world now.” The product of Eilish’s self-reflection during quarantine is an incredible song of hope for listeners for the future after the coronavirus pandemic.
In a seamless transition, the tempo speeds up in the second verse, subbing the electric piano and soft synth for drums, guitar and bass for a brighter and more upbeat sound. Eilish sings, “I know supposedly I’m lonely now, know I’m supposed to be unhappy without someone. But aren’t I someone? I’d like to be your answer ‘cause you’re so handsome.”
In an interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Eilish talks about her past reliance on other people in any context, not only romantic relationships. She had always depended on others and found it challenging at first to be by herself. Now, she celebrates the power of being alone and her newfound self-love.
The second pre-chorus is Eilish’s personal favorite lyric in the song: “But I know better than to drive you home ‘cause you’d invite me in and I’d be yours again.” She refers back to the original person she was attached to. After reflecting, she knows herself and her weaknesses, but she has learned not to make the same mistakes again.
Finally, the last chorus: “But I, I’m in love with my future and you don’t know her. And I, I’m in love but not with anybody here. I’ll see you in a couple years.” The final line leaves the listener with anticipation and enthusiasm. Perhaps Eilish will return to other relationships in a few years when she is ready. Or perhaps the world won’t fully recover from the pandemic for a few years. However the line is applied, Eilish ends on a note of hope, and there is a brighter future to look forward to.
The song was coupled with an animated music video of Eilish, which is shockingly different from her traditionally dark music videos. Typically, she does her own stunts, such as pouring black liquid into her eyes in the music video for “when the party’s over” or having a spider crawl out of her mouth in “you should see me in a crown.”
The video for “my future” is much more peaceful. It begins with an animated Eilish complete with green roots and Nikes staring at the moon in the rain. When the tone of the song shifts, the sun comes up and plants start growing all around her upon her touch. The plants encompass her and propel her upward.
The video contains many symbolic motifs. For example, water symbolizes cleansing or rebirth. Eilish’s self-doubt and reliance on others is washed away in the rain. She sits in contemplation staring at the moon before the sun comes up. As natural opposites, night and day often represent life and death or old and new, continuing the theme of Eilish’s transformation, as well as showing the significance of the passage of time, something necessary for her change.
Eilish stares at herself in a puddle, a nod to the figure Narcissus from Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. The scene is also a very literal depiction of self-reflection before the tonal and personal change. Finally, Eilish causes the new growth and she goes upward into the sky, representing how her personal growth will push her further ahead into the future.
Eilish masterfully blends words, sounds and visuals to tell her personal story. The combination of her artistic intelligence, incredible musical talent and external awareness never fails to provide listeners with what they need the most.
In her email to fans, she wrote, “The future feels uncertain and crazy right now. But I think we need to be ready to put the work in, and if we do that, we should be hopeful and excited for our future. I have to keep reminding myself that the future is ours, and I know we want to do everything we can to make it better for everyone in the world. And for the world itself… it’s up to us to change things now. Not only for us, but for future generations. Stay hopeful.”