Billie Eilish contributes forlorn piano ballad to ‘Barbie’ soundtrack



Billie Eilish, “What Was I Made For?”

Eilish draws a connection between the public’s consumption of pop stars and plastic dolls on this sparse, forlorn piano ballad from the “Barbie” soundtrack: “Looked so alive, turns out I’m not real,” she sings in a quivering whisper. “Just something you paid for.” The song hews closer to the more traditional, crooner-inspired fare on Eilish’s album “Happier Than Ever” than to the rest of “Barbie the Album,” which features upbeat tunes from Dua Lipa and Charli XCX. Still, Eilish knows how to tease out the pathos and a subtle sense of macabre from a particular kind of feminine malaise. “I’m used to float, now I just fall down,” she sings, making life in plastic sound less than fantastic.


Troye Sivan, “Rush”

Sivan — the Australian pop musician, ex-YouTuber and rare musician who actually proved to be a watchable screen presence on “The Idol” (ahem!) — returns triumphantly with “Rush,” a sweaty, kinetic, gloriously hedonistic summer dance-floor anthem with a lightly NSFW video to match. Sivan’s breathy vocals dance atop an insistent beat and house-inspired piano riff, while a chorus of deep male voices chant the song’s infectious hook: “I feel the rush, addicted to your touch.” At last, Xander is free!


Yard Act, “The Trench Coat Museum”

It is a law of nature that there is never too much cowbell. Yard Act, the post-punk band that could almost be LCD Soundsystem with a British accent and a social-media update, has re-emerged after its debut album. That means post-punk nostalgia folded in on itself like origami. “The Trench Coat Museum” imagines that there might be such an institution — celebrating a garment that’s assertive, concealing, protective, too long and too evocative — in a spoke-sung eight-minute track that easily gives way to its early 1980s groove: beat, bass riff, turntable scratching, clawing rhythm guitar, synthesizers and Latin percussion that definitely includes cowbell. The open secret of post-punk is that no matter how cynical the vocal gets, the song is always about the groove.

JON PARELES, New York Times

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  • Guided by Voices, “Welshpool Frillies”
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