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The World’s A Little Blurry (15, 140 minutes)
Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell doesn’t write songs for me. But by the time she was 17 (and she’s only 19 now) this prodigiously talented teen had succeeded in doing what every artist strives for in creating a very real connection with her audience.
And in her case that audience is almost exclusively teenage girls. She speaks for them. She echoes their hopes, and more importantly, their fears and insecurities without an ounce of cynicism.
Although this documentary caters very firmly to that fan base, it is revealing in showing the build up to the completion and release of her debut album in 2018 from the predictably dark adolescent doodles and hormonal scribblings in her notebook, including the not quite Fiona Apple-length title she has chosen – When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? – to the completely focused and conceptualised vision she has for herself.
In their backyard, using her mother as a prop, she goes through her concept for the video she wants for the track When The Party’s Over, then jump forward to the shoot itself as her idea comes to fruition and a passing comment of intent to her mother as they leave: “In future I’m directing.”
In many ways, she’s a normal teenager, or as normal as a home schooled 17-year old with tourette’s can be. But she’s also someone who knows what she wants, regardless of what anyone else, including her record label may say.
Interscope execs sit in her brother Finneas’s bedroom, where the entire album has been written and recorded, listening to a playback, the dollar signs rolling in their eyes like a Vegas one armed bandit.
This is followed by one of the most telling scenes in the entire film as Finneas tells his parents in the family kitchen that the record company has done what record companies do in telling him to concentrate on writing a hit song, but without telling his sister what he’s doing.
Billie is the genuine article and she steadfastly refuses to compromise on that, which some would see as the naivety of youth, but is a vital component to any artist’s longevity as opposed to someone who is merely a performer.
Hence the attempt by Interscope to direct things surreptitiously.
Her creative partnership with older brother Finneas is both touching and fascinating to see in action. His importance to the process can’t be overstated and his sister fully recognises that.
What she hadn’t quite figured out, certainly while the documentary was being made, is that to tap into those collective emotions of a generation takes a toll on your own and is only possible because writers of that ilk have a layer of skin less.
It’s worth remembering that this is not the creation of a manufactured pop princess. She was signed to a major label on the strength of already having a fan base of around a million on social media thanks to a song posted online when she was just 14 years-old which had gone viral, and a steady stream of gigs at home and abroad.
Without that foundation there would have been no reason to professionally document the events of 2018.
By the time the album is released that social media presence has increased to almost 17 million worldwide and that has no doubt grown even more since.
A lot of things will change by the time the next album is due, not least the expectation, and one can only hope that the pressure doesn’t create another casualty of Britney proportions.