"Bury A Friend" was written from the perspective of a monster under Billie Eilish's bed. The singer teased the sparse, atmospheric track with a 16-second video of her lip-syncing the tune while her head is being pushed, pulled and possessed by several gloved hands. The clip ends with the question, "When we all fall asleep, where do we go?", which is also the title of the singer's debut album.
Writing "Bury A Friend" gave Eilish the idea of how she was going to conceive the entire When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? project. "I immediately knew what it was going to be about, what the visuals were going to be, and everything in terms of how I wanted it to be perceived," she said. "It inspired what the album is about."
Eilish darkly whisper-sings questions as the monster. She is both frustrated and inquisitive.
What do you want from me? Why don't you run from me?
What are you wondering? What do you know?
Why aren't you scared of me? Why do you care for me?
When we all fall asleep, where do we go?
Eilish explained that the song "is literally from the perspective of the monster under my bed. If you put yourself in that mindset, what is this creature doing or feeling?"
That's London-based Soundcloud rapper Crooks' booming voice who announces "Billie" at the beginning of the track.
Eilish co-produced the spooky song with her writing partner and older brother Finneas O'Connell in their childhood home of Highland Park, Los Angeles.
The song's haunting music video shows the full version of the 16-second teaser, as we see Eilish lurking underneath a friend's bed. The tortured singer is also manhandled by the mob of hands, and is injected with numerous needles. The visual utilizes similar horror aesthetics to Eilish's clip for "When The Party's Over
The song features multiple sound effects, including a dental drill. Eilish recorded the whirring noise on her phone during a visit to the dentist to remove her Invisalign. Though Finneas didn't like the sound that the dental drill made, he discovered that it worked great in the song. Its inclusion inspired him to seek out additional sound effects to match the lyrics such as breaking glass and a staple gun.
"As soon as there was a line about stepping on glass, I wanted to hear someone stepping on glass," he told The New York Times
. As soon as there was a line about a staple, I was smacking a staple gun."
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? debuted at #1 on the UK Albums chart. At 17 years, 3 months and 18 days old, Eilish overtook Joss Stone as the youngest female to top the tally. Stone's 2004 record Mind, Body & Soul reached the summit when she was 17 years, 5 months and 28 days old.
The song became Billie Eilish's first #1 on a Billboard radio airplay chart, when it climbed to the summit of the Alternative Songs tally dated May 25, 2019.
Speaking with OK! Magazine, Eilish explained the song was inspired by sleep paralysis. "I have these terrifying dreams," she said. "Sleep paralysis, night terrors. It's like the whole night is terrifying and then I wake up."
The singer added: "I probably wouldn't have made that song the way it is if I hadn't had sleep paralysis and nightmares."