Billie Eilish goes symphonic

Billie Eilish goes symphonic


norman lebrecht

September 10, 2021

The US singer-songwriter has gone symphonic in her new concert film, titled ‘Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles’.

She performs with the LA Philharmonic in an empty Hollywood Bowl, a sign of our times but also a positive omen that a pop star has reached out to her generic ancestry in sophisticted orchestral music.

Watch trailer.


  • Phillip says:

    So glad Gustavo was available for this.

  • Springbeg says:

    Seriously ?

  • Jean says:

    Bravo, Gustavo

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    The voice of a generation? Good grief!

    • Brettermeier says:

      “The voice of a generation? Good grief!”

      Of course not the voice of YOUR generation. But let’s face it, that voice died like, what, 50 years ago?

      • Freewheeler says:

        Yeah! TODAY’s singer are much better than them oldie singers. After the mandatory auto-tune and buttock implants of course.

  • Garbage says:

    Garbage with orchestra needlessly included is still garbage

    • Matias says:

      An orchestra backing up nothing-in-particular to give a totally phoney impression of sophistication. The audience sits through a succession of worn out, pseudo-classical orchestral cliches, waiting for the drums and guitars to produce the sounds that they really want to hear.

      Heard it all before.

  • Brian says:

    Reminds me of this classic from The Onion:

    Lede: “Saying the live performance will be a dream come true following decades of music study, members of the Philadelphia Orchestra announced Wednesday that they simply cannot wait for their upcoming collaboration with John Mellencamp.”

    • Marfisa says:

      To continue the quote:

      … said associate principal violist Paul Chiu, adding that playing the same simple melody as the rest of the string section and the entire woodwind section during the chorus of “Hurts So Good” would be a “feather in the cap” of his distinguished classical music career. “To repeat the same sequence of eight notes over and over again while staring at the back of John Mellencamp’s head as amplified guitars and boisterous audience members drown out most of the sound—I can’t think of a greater privilege than that.”

      Well, chaconne à son goût, I suppose.

      But wait, isn’t there a rich crop of viola jokes in there, waiting to be harvested?

  • Colin says:

    “…..generic ancestry…..” What does this mean?

  • Roman says:

    Oh my God. I don’t care what these singers are doing, but why Dudamel? Such a shame.

  • Miss Kiersty Miller says:

    Another brilliant move from the immeasurably talented and beautiful Billie Eilish.

  • Marfisa says:

    So, I’ve never bothered to listen to Billie Eilish, but my curiosity was roused, and I tried out Happier than Ever on YouTube:

    Actually, quite a powerful song, I thought – reminded me emotionally of Handel’s distressed and abandoned heroines.

    Is it such a new thing that symphony orchestras collaborate with pop (in the broadest sense) artists?

    • TubaMinimum says:

      Giving it a listen just now, I do think that’s a great song. I don’t even know if it needs some classical comparison to justify its merit. Personally, with a niece in Eilish’s prime demographic, I’m really gratified to see her break the mold of the overly sexualized teen idols. Her music is interesting and decidedly in its own mold.

      Being a bit of a musical omnivore, I am always hopeful some pop/symphonic collaboration might be greater than the sum of its parts, but it’s rarely executed all that well. That said, Eilish is apparently an LA Children’s Chorus alumni, so I think it must be fun for her to do this kind of collaboration, and I think that’s fun.

  • Freewheeler says:

    I don’t care about an orchestra, I want her to do more nosebleed music.