Billie Eilish Concert Film Celebrates What's Possible at Berklee
Berklee's YouTube channel broke new ground this week with the release of The Music of Billie Eilish, a full-length concert film produced by Berklee Presents.
Shot in front of a sold-out Berklee Performance Center crowd in December, the film brings together live and prerecorded performances from a rotating ensemble of 50 Berklee students, LED visuals by Berklee NYC graduate student Pamela Hersch B.M. ’14, choreography and circus performances by current Boston Conservatory at Berklee students, and original video skits to create a truly immersive viewing experience. The ambitious and expansive production, which features renditions of 23 Eilish songs ranging from the singer's SoundCloud days to 2021's Grammy-nominated Happier than Ever, is an homage to an artist whose massive influence on this new generation of musicians is obvious in the enthusiasm and creativity they bring to the stage through the hourlong concert.
“Billie Eilish is an outstanding artist who has inspired our students with her incredible work ethic, introspective lyrics, and otherworldly production style,” Michael Borgida, director of marketing and Berklee Presents, told Berklee in advance of the show. “This concert [pays] tribute to the impact she has made on the world as a musician, and the path she has paved for young artists of the future.”
The performance succeeds in a way that's only possible to imagine at Berklee. Every song has been carefully taken apart, examined, and interpreted by student performers who have both the technical chops and the artistry to create something fresh and exciting from these well-loved compositions. They've had a chance to hash out ideas with faculty mentors, and even to consult with members of Eilish's team, including Justin Lubliner, CEO of Darkroom Records, her label. Through this process, they've found creative ways to make the songs their own while staying faithful to what makes them memorable. The Berklee a cappella group Upper Structure lend their voices to the 2019 ballad "When the Party's Over." Several vocalists trade lines in "Not My Responsibility," Eilish's spoken word reflection on body image and public persona, to express group solidarity with the singer's message. And in perhaps the most Berklee move of all, the iconic sample from The Office in "My Strange Addiction" is replaced, per copyright restrictions, with a genuinely informative voiceover explaining U.S. copyright law in language that might've been pulled from a music business textbook.
It all comes together to great effect: This is what it can look like to really study contemporary music. And what a pleasure it is to witness the end result of all that study.
Watch the full concert film, The Music of Billie Eilish,"below: