Billie Eilish released her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, 19 months ago already, and so much has shifted since then. She won all the Grammys. She recorded the new James Bond theme. And now, she even got Glendale to close down the mall for her.
In her extremely DIY new video for “There I Am,” Eilish spends five minutes gallivanting around the deserted Glendale Galleria in California, helping herself to soft pretzels and doughnuts. It’s a familiar haunt; she grew up frequenting the mall as a young teen in the 2010s. Now she runs it, in the vacant clip that evokes Dawn of the Dead‘s suburban post-apocalyptica and plays like a nuclear-fallout version of New Radicals’s beloved late-’90s kids-take-over-the-mall anthem, “You Get What You Give.”
A lot of what I mentioned above is utter projection, but it’s hard not to read between the lines this year, a fraught time plagued by a raging pandemic and nearly 1.3 million people dead around the world. I went to the mall a lot as a kid out of mere boredom, gathering in large groups and walking around drinking frozen sugar drinks without a face covering. Imagine such a luxury now!
In Eilish’s “Therefore I Am,” which she directed, she captures this feeling of estrangement and isolation by wandering around a closed, multi-level, capitalistic expanse maskless and alone, free, yet implicitly haunted by the shuttered shops and eerie emptiness. She’s having a nice time, though, smiling as she lip-synchs to a bouncy pop track in the vein of “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” and repeatedly relays, “I’m not your friend.”
Get lost in the vast post-commercialistic chasms of “Therefore I Am” above.