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Home » Billie Eilish: Biography, Musician, 2024 Oscar Winner

Billie Eilish: Biography, Musician, 2024 Oscar Winner

Billie Eilish made Academy Award history on March 10 with her win for Best Original Song for “What Was I Made For?”

The Barbie tune marked the second win in the category for the 22-year-old Eilish, making her the youngest multi-time Oscar recipient in history. Eilish and her brother, Finneas O’Connell, previously won for the James Bond theme song “No Time to Die” in 2022. According to the Los Angeles Times, the previous record was held by actor Luise Rainer, who was 28 when she won her second award in 1938.

Eilish and O’Connell performed the song live during the ceremony, drawing a standing ovation from the audience. “What Was I Made For?” also won Song of the Year earlier in 2024 at the Grammy Awards.

Who Is Billie Eilish?

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Billie Eilish was barely a teenager when her song “Ocean Eyes” became a viral hit. She teamed with her brother, Finneas O’Connell, to create the tracks for the breakout EP Don’t Smile at Me and the smash album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, establishing the artist as a global sensation and seven-time Grammy winner before the age of 20. To date, she has won nine Grammy Awards and is known for the songs “Bad Guy,” “Everything I Wanted,” and “What Was I Made For?” from the Barbie movie soundtrack.

Early Life and Family

Billie Eilish was born on December 18, 2001, in Los Angeles. Her full name is Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell. Her first name is in honor of her maternal grandfather, William; the second was inspired by a conjoined twin her parents saw in a documentary; and the third came from the insistence of her older brother, Finneas.

Billie’s parents, Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell, were longtime actors before joining their teenage daughter’s professional team. Raised in a two-bedroom house in Highland Park, where she and her brother were homeschooled, Eilish was encouraged to pursue her interests in dance, gymnastics, horseback riding and especially music. She learned to play the Beatles’ “I Will” on the ukulele at age 6; joined Los Angeles Children’s Chorus at age 8; and began writing songs in earnest by age 11, her talents nurtured through her mother’s songwriting class. Eilish has said her first “real” song, “Fingers Crossed,” was penned around that time after watching an episode of The Walking Dead.

Brother Finneas O‘Connell

The elder sibling by four-and-a-half years, Finneas became his sister’s indispensable collaborator, co-writer and producer, the pair continuing to compose and record together from a bedroom in their Highland Park home even after Eilish’s emergence as a global phenomenon.

“Probably 75-80 percent of the songs are written with us sitting next to each other at a piano or with a guitar, singing a melody together,” he told Variety in 2019. “It’s like a relay race — we really feel like we both have to kill our portion of it to get to the finish line.”

Finneas, who released the solo EP Blood Harmony in October 2019, has also co-written and produced tracks for other popular artists like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello.

Albums and Songs

“Ocean Eyes”

Originally written for Finneas’ band, “Ocean Eyes” sprung to life when infused with a 13-year-old Eilish’s ethereal vocals and became a viral sensation upon being uploaded to SoundCloud in November 2015. A second SoundCloud offering, “Six Feet Under,” was followed by her summer 2016 signing with Darkroom Records, which re-released both tracks as singles later in the year.

Don’t Smile at Me

Eilish’s popularity surged with the steady unveiling of singles from her August 2017 EP, Don’t Smile at Me, with tracks like “Bellyache,” “Copycat” and “My Boy” showcasing her willingness to explore dark and prickly terrain amid a stream of shifting but danceable electronic beats. Don’t Smile at Me peaked at an impressive No. 14 on the Billboard 200 in January 2019, around which time Eilish became the youngest artist to top 1 billion streams on Spotify.

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and “Bad Guy”

The March 2019 arrival of Eilish’s full-length album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? came with the simultaneous release of “Bad Guy,” the song that became the first megahit of her career. Still, the chart-topping album retained the early hallmarks of her unique style, from the whispered ruminations on drug use in “Xanny” to the jarring imagery of “Bury a Friend.” Eilish also displayed her theatrical sensibilities in the riveting videos for those and other tracks; “When the Party’s Over” shows the artist singing through the black liquid pouring from her eyes, while “You Should See Me in a Crown” features a spider crawling from her mouth.

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