Billie Eilish at a concert in the Frankfurt Festhalle

Billie eilish is in town. One for each traffic light. Sometimes there are even two, three, on a bicycle, in the subway: short cargo pants, a wide shirt with short sleeves, sneakers, hair tied in pigtails, dyed. Around Frankfurt’s Festhalle, where the only true pop singer Billie Eilish is set to perform on this hot, windy evening, you can guess how long her doubles (as well as doubles) had to wait for this Sunday performance: mountains of bottles and bags of crisps and torn posters and a few exhausted parents who need to cool off outside the gate after dropping off their kids.

Tobias Ruether

Editor of a column for the Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine in Berlin.

If they did not go directly into the great hall – to sing there for two hours. Maybe because her kids sang Billie Eilish’s songs – “Bad Guy”, “Getting Older”, “Bury a Friend” – so often that they finally knew them by heart.

But it is more likely that they will be able to sing along with the songs because they have become fans themselves. It’s simple, at some point you automatically sing in a hot hall, vaguely attached to the lyrics, but it doesn’t matter because everyone is singing and it’s about that spirit: about the jointly generated joyous noise about this, here, now and this moment, to be Billie Eilish on world. For the two hours you have been waiting for not only on a hot afternoon in Frankfurt, but for two years. Billie Eilish canceled her 2020 world tour due to a pandemic, but recorded a new album “Happier than Ever”, now she is here.

She jumps out of the hatch onto a spacious stage, where she is otherwise only accompanied by her brother on his many instruments and drummer Andrew Marshall. One jump – and Festhalle almost falls apart, everyone screams so loud. Then we celebrate our best in this atmosphere. “Take a deep breath, sit down for a moment,” exclaims Billie Eilish, “are you okay?” Silly question. We love you Billie. Then Finneas waves fresh air at her.

Add-ons are not negotiable

Billie Eilish is the star of today’s pop music. A 20-year-old from Los Angeles who wrote songs as a child and produced them at home with her older brother: rebellious, wise, fascinating songs about being young, about love, stupid guys, pain and shame, and becoming independent. She radiates a power of identification, more intense than other identifying characters in pop history before her, perhaps because she doesn’t say, “Come to my circle, everything will be fine – but because it expands this circle until everyone can belong.”

Billie Eilish discovered the inclusive power of pop music. An art form that lives from distinction, from initiation into a secret that not everyone understands. But Billie Eilish doesn’t exclude, but does include. He opens up, invites, says: be there, no matter what you look like.

And almost everyone in Festhalle looks like her anyway.

But it’s not just the image of Billie Eilish, the style of her hair and clothes, it’s her songs as well: this inclusiveness can be heard even in a very early blockbuster like “Ocean Eyes”. Hear how deeply Billie Eilish is in the history of American popular music, hear him sing as well as look for the gestures of great shows. In spring, she won an “Oscar” for Best Film Music for Bond’s song “No Time to Die”, which not only playfully joins the list of great Bond songs such as “Goldfinger”, but also in her own work.

She has now confessed her love for American singer and actress Julie London (1926-2000) to presenter David Letterman, an impact that no one would expect at first but hears immediately. It shapes songwriting in a manner similar to the pumping bass and beat of today’s hip-hop. Billie Eilish also practiced using Autotune with Letterman. Apparently everyone should participate, including the old white men.

Billie Eilish sings for two hours, everyone in the festival hall sings, and then it’s over. Add-ons are not negotiable. It is also a manifestation of the joint caring work of the artist and the audience. On the outside, many Billies immediately tell themselves what it was like. And so the air shines a little brighter.

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