"Billie Eilish doesn't sing. She just whispers or mumbles her way through songs."
How often have we heard this claim? Eilish's unique, ASMR-style of vocal delivery may not be for everyone but it's a form of singing nonetheless, immediately rendering this argument invalid. However, if we gloss over this delegitimising of a valid singing technique and assume these people mean singing in a much more traditional sense, then I'm afraid you're still going to have to eat your words completely.
'No Time to Die', the official song for the upcoming Bond movie of the same name, sees Eilish singing like most of us will never have heard her sing before. It's as haunting as we know she can be, but there's a new power in her voice, a new confidence and willingness to take her vocals further. It's impressive how she's managed to make it sound so new, and yet so her at the same time. There's no doubt that it's Eilish, particularly in the verses, yet we get a sense of what she's truly capable of just past the three-minute mark, when she does open up the vocal cords and beautifully exclaims that "there's just no time to die", before belting it out in a resounding - and very final - way. Despite the phrase of 'no time to die' being positive on the face of it, her delivery is mournful, full of sorrow. Is this an indication of what may happen in the film? Who knows, but this is Eilish proving to her doubters once and for all that she can 'sing', be it in her own style or in a classic sense of the word.
It's a big middle finger to those who have doubted her capabilities as a singer. It's further proof that, just because someone decides to sing in one way, doesn't mean they can't do it in another. A prime example of this is Nicole Scherzinger; rarely does she exhibit anything overly special as a member of the Pussycat Dolls, but her collaboration with David Garrett showcased a woman whose vocal talents go far beyond what many may have expected. Never judge a singer by their style.
The last decade has been the strongest for Bond songs since the days of Shirley Bassey, with Adele, Sam Smith and Eilish all offering up brilliant and heartfelt songs for the series. Indeed, Eilish seems to have been preparing for this ever since she became an artist, telling Zane Lowe that "for two years-ish, we’ve been subconsciously trying to [write a Bond song] in our own way. And, like, we’ve written songs that have never come out that are, like, oh, this sounds like Bond, like, this would be dope, like, it would never happen, whatever. And then this offer came up and we were like, ‘Ahhhh!’”
We can only hope that this strong showing for Bond theme songs continues on into the future. In the meantime, everyone needs to accept that Billie Eilish's vocal talents go far beyond her ASMR mumbles and whispers, allowing her to create powerful and dramatic songs such as 'No Time to Die'. Will we see more of this Eilish on her next album? Personally, I hope so. It's never a bad thing to expand your range as an artist, and combining the style of her first album with that of her Bond theme could make for a fantastic second effort. Let's wait and see.
The bottom line? Billie Eilish can absolutely sing. Deal with it.