Bad Guy

Album: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019)
Charted: 2 1

Songfacts®:

  • This twitchy, bass-heavy banger finds Billie Eilish taunting her abusive lover. She tells him she's in control of their relationship as she enjoys playing the role of a docile girlfriend.

    I like it when you take control
    Even if you know that you don't
    Own me, I'll let you play the role
    I'll be your animal


    During the hook, Eilish accuses the dude of just playing tough when it's she who is really the "bad guy."

    I'm that bad type
    Make your mama sad type
    Make your girlfriend mad tight
    Might seduce your dad type
    I'm the bad guy


    Eilish has the power to make the important people in her lover's life upset.
  • The song is Track 2 on the album, preceded by "!!!!!!!," a 14-second introductory skit about Invisalign in which we hear Billie Eilish joking about removing her aligner and getting her album done and drilled out. Her brother and producer Finneas explained to Vulture that his sister had to take her Invisalign out for recording sessions because it gave her vocals a lisp, but she became so used to wearing the aligner that she often forgot. He compared the noise she made to Lil Wayne's lighter flick sound featured on Tha Carter II songs such as the title track and "Fireman."

    "I have so much audio of her taking out her Invisalign that I was like, 'Billie, this is gonna be your version of the Lil Wayne lighter flick,'" Finneas said. "You know how when you listen to a new Lil Wayne song he's lighting up a blunt in the song? I was like, 'Bill, this is gonna be your signature sound.'"

    Finneas said that he and his sister decided to include the skit to lighten the mood on When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?.

    "When we were wrapping it up, I felt like the album was pretty dark and covered a lot of heavy stuff, with songs like 'Bury A Friend' and 'Listen ' and 'Ilomilo'" he explained. "The art that I like that is the darkest… if there's an element of humor in it, I think I take it even more seriously. It really resonates with me. It was really important with this album to find a sense of humor in the midst of all of this heaviness."
  • On July 11, 2019, Billie Eilish dropped a remix of "Bad Guy" featuring Justin Bieber. Eilish has a well-documented history as a Belieber (she called him her "first love" in a Marie Claire interview). The pair exchanged tweets in March 2019 and finally met the following month during Ariana Grande's headlining set at Coachella.

    The updated recording stays fairly true to the original, save for a brand-new second verse and scattered ad-libs from Bieber. It was written by Eilish, Finneas O'Connell, the "What Do You Mean?" singer and his frequent writing partner, Poo Bear.
  • The cover art for the Bieber remix shows a younger Eilish surrounded by posters of the Canadian pop star.
  • After waiting patiently at #2 behind "Old Town Road" for nine weeks, "Bad Guy" finally toppled Lil Nas X's record-breaking song to reach #1. In doing so, it broke the record for the longest a song spent in the runner-up position before climbing to the summit. Three songs - OutKast's "The Way You Move," Justin Bieber's "Sorry" and The Weeknd's "Starboy" - spent eight weeks in the runner-up spot before they hit #1.

    On reaching the top of the Hot 100, Eilish became the first artist born in the 2000s to have a #1 hit.
  • Billie Eilish had no expectations for the song, as the chorus doesn't have a hook. Said the singer to Billboard: "My brother and I actually sat in his room trying to write something else over that but we couldn't do it because nothing else worked."
  • Speaking to 102.7KIISFM, Billie Eilish explained that "Bad Guy" pokes fun at the way people (including herself) try to present themselves as rule breakers.

    "The initial idea for the song is like people that have to tell everybody that they are a certain way all the time? They're not that certain way... In general, I feel like you will never catch a bad bitch telling everyone she's a bad bitch. It's on - it's you.

    If you're going around all the time saying like, 'Yeah, I'm bad, I'm always breaking rules, and doing this and doing that.' You're not. I know that because I used to say that and I wasn't. Bad kids, bad boys, bad bitches, whatever, they do that s--t and they don't even know."
  • This won Best Song at the 2019 MTV European Music Awards. Eilish also took home from the ceremony the trophy for Best New Artist.
  • Billie Eilish half-whispers the lyrics.

    Yeah, I'm a bad guy
    Ain't no holdin' back guy
    Come off like I'm mad guy


    Eilish admitted to Billboard they were strange words to hear coming out of a female mouth, adding, "In any movie or children's book, there's always a bad guy. Even if it's a girl, the title is the bad guy. I wanna be that."
  • "Bad Guy" was named the best song of 2019 by Billboard magazine.
  • The song is divided into two parts, with the second half 50% slower than the first half. Eilish told Rolling Stone she got the idea for the two parts by listening to tracks by rappers JID and Isaiah Rashad.

    "I had been inspired by this song called 'Never' by JID and this song called 'Stuck in the Mud' by Isaiah Rashad that kind of stop for like five seconds in the middle and then start this new song that's shorter. I thought it was so interesting," she said.

    Eilish and Finneas ended up using an old song they'd previously recorded for the slower closing bridge and outro.
  • "Bad Guy" was music critics' favorite song of 2019. In a chart compiled by the BBC combining various end-of-year lists published by 30 different music magazines, blogs, newspapers and broadcasters, it ranked #1. The track itself topped seven of the 30 end-of-year lists.
  • This won Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 2020. Eilish also won Best New Artist, and When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? won Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Engineered Album. Finneas took the trophy for Producer of the Year.
  • At 18, Billie Eilish became the youngest-ever artist to win Grammy Record of the Year winner, topping Kimbra for "Somebody That I Used To Know" with Gotye and Sam Smith for "Stay With Me." Both won the honor aged 22.

    Eilish also became the youngest-ever artist to win Album of the Year. The previous record holder was Taylor Swift, who was 20 when her LP Fearless won the prize.
  • Eilish and Finneas performed this from their living room couch as part of the "Living Room Concert For America," which was broadcast on March 29, 2020. The virtual benefit concert raised funds for the First Responders Children's Foundation and Feeding America. It also offered words of hope and encouragement from a number of stars, including Elton John, who hosted the event.
  • The song was partly inspired by rappers who present a false image of their wealth and lavish lifestyles.

    So you're a tough guy
    Like it really rough guy
    Just can't get enough guy
    Chest always so puffed guy
    I'm that bad type


    Said Eilish: "'Bad Guy' is more about people that are always lying about themselves. A lot of it is about a lot of artists right now, a lot of rappers. I feel like pretty much all the rappers right now are lying, about how much money they have and about their house and their clothes etc. It's like, 'Shut up, you don't have this.' It's just annoying.

    And it's so easy to see through people when they talk about their money. They have nothing else, so that's all they talk about."

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