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Billie Eilish, 'Happier Than Ever'

Billie Eilish released five singles in the long run-up to Happier Than Ever, but saved its best song for the album's drop date. The title track is really two songs in one — and, appropriately enough, it contains multitudes. Opening amid a deceptively easygoing acoustic strum, Eilish couches her devastatingly economical burns ("When I'm away from you, I'm happier than ever") in a sweet, timeless, patient vocal that wouldn't have sounded out of place at a jazz club 60 years ago. But the song fully takes off halfway through, when Eilish revs her engines — and her recriminations — to produce a burst of fuzzed-out catharsis that'd have Olivia Rodrigo pumping her fist in solidarity.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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