Billie Eilish’s new album, Hit Me Hard and Soft: everything you need to know

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

In an era where pop’s finest tease upcoming albums for months, trailing them with single after single to build up the excitement, the ramping up towards Billie Eilish’s third album feels a little different.

In place of sprawling anthology records that go racing well past the 20-track mark (cough cough: Taylor Swift and Beyoncé) Eilish’s new record, Hit Me Hard and Soft clocks in at a succinct 10 tracks, and was announced just six weeks before its May 17 release date.

Rather than trailing the follow-up to 2021’s Happier Than Ever with punchy, big-budget music videos, Eilish has skipped lead singles in favour of hiding sneaky song snippets everywhere from telly trailers to Snapchat. And besides these brief teasers, almost everything that lands on Friday will be a total surprise.

Or… will it? While there’s not much music to go on just yet, Eilish and her sibling producer FINNEAS (he styles his name in shouty caps) have dropped a bunch of other hints about what to expect, and what kind of direction Hit Me Hard and Soft might take.

So, from early doors snippets to major clues about the album’s stand-out themes, here’s a rundown.

All of the song snippets so far…

We may not have any lead singles to get stuck into, but we do have plenty of early previews to help lay down the groundwork. From popping a snippet of Chihiro into the trailer for Heartstopper season 3, to airing songs like Lunch at a surprise Coachella afterparty, Eilish has been hiding sneak peeks all over the place.


“I could eat that girl for lunch, yeah, she dances on my tongue, tastes like she might be the one,” sings Billie Eilish on Lunch; Hit Me Hard and Soft’s second track. Ooer!

The glimpse of the upbeat, vaguely nu-disco flavoured cut played out during a surprise Coachella afterparty hosted by the singer.

“That song was actually part of what helped me become who I am, to be real,” Eilish said, speaking to Rolling Stone about Lunch. “I wrote some of it before even doing anything with a girl, and then wrote the rest after. I’ve been in love with girls for my whole life, but I just didn’t understand — until, last year, I realized I wanted my face in a vagina.”

Previously, Billie Eilish criticised the media for asking her about her sexuality during a cover feature with Variety, and a subsequent red carpet interview. “I was never planning on talking about my sexuality ever, in a million years,” she told Rolling Stone. “It’s really frustrating to me that it came up.”

L’Amour De La Vie

It is tradition that every single pop girly needs to have at least one French moment in their career – just ask Britney Spears (Coupure Électrique) or Beyoncé and Olivia Rodrigo (Déjà vu). Now, Billie is ticking off that particular milestone, it seems, with L’Amour De La Vie. The title is French for “love of my life”.

“You were so mediocre, and we're so glad it's over,” she bellows through layer upon layer of autotune; the hyper-pop flavoured song certainly feels like a break-up banger judging by these lyrics. Eilish revealed the snippet in the form of a Snapchat filter.


The trance influence is heavy on Chihiro, it seems: “I don't know you at all” she sings, over and over. The snippet appears on Fortnite as part of the game’s new Billie Eilish Bundle.

And there’s also another distinct influence at play: Studio Ghibli. Chihiro Ogino is the main protagonist of the iconic studio’s classic Spirited Away. In the film, the young character accidentally wanders into the spirit world, and after almost signing away her identity, she must use all of her wit and cunning to return to reality and save her family. Chihiro’s name means "a thousand questions" in Japanese. Could this be a nod to the 2001 film?

Birds of a Feather

Different again (based on the snippets, Hit Me Hard and Soft is shaping up into a very varied album) Birds of a Feather’s preview has the air of a swooning love ballad with plenty of pop punch and some extra falsetto sprinkled in for good measure. “I’ll love you ‘till the day that I die,” she sings.

The preview of the song acts as the backing soundtrack for Heartstopper’s new season 3 trailer. It’s sadly unlikely to have been inspired by the Nineties UK sitcom starring Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson.

What else has Billie Eilish said about Hit Me Hard and Soft?

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Billie Eilish called Hit Me Hard and Soft “an album-ass album”.

In part, she was possibly referring to her decision to skip conventional lead singles in favour of dropping the whole thing in one go; but according to that profile’s writer Angie Martoccio, Eilish also spoke about being influenced by a number of “auteurist works from the past 15 years or so, like Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die, Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin, Marina and the Diamonds’ Electra Heart, and Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory.”

The title, Eilish said, stems from a conversation with her brother FINNEAS ‒ who is also her producer ‒ in the studio. The singer says she wrongly thought that a particular synth preset on the audio software Logic Pro was called ‘Hit Me Hard and Soft’ and liked the turn of phrase.

“I thought it was such a perfect encapsulation of what this album does,” she said. “It’s an impossible request: You can’t be hit hard and soft. You can’t do anything hard and soft at the same time. I’m a pretty extremist person, and I really like when things are really intense physically, but I also love when things are very tender and sweet. I want two things at once. So I thought that was a really good way to describe me, and I love that it’s not possible.”

"The album does exactly as the title suggests: hits you hard and soft both lyrically and sonically while bending genres and defying trends along the way," adds a press release.

And how about FINNEAS?

Billie Eilish’s producer brother has also revealed that he sees Hit Me Hard And Soft as harking back to the dark, menacing sound of her 2019 debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

“I feel like this album has some real ghosts in it, and I say that with love,” he told Rolling Stone. “There’s ideas on this album that are five years old, and there’s a past to it, which I really like. When Billie talks about the era of When We All Fall Asleep, it was this theatricality and this darkness. What’s the thing that no one is as good at as Billie is? This album was an exploration of what we do best.”

Thanks to the Rolling Stone piece, we also know that strings will feature throughout. Along with recruiting Eilish’s live drummer Andrew Marshall for the album, the Attacca Quartet also feature ‒ FINNEAS met them while collaborating on a score for Alfonso Cuarón’s Apple TV+ series, Disclaimer.

The album’s opener, Skinny, has been described as a “sister song” to Eilish’s Oscar-winning Barbie soundtrack song What Was I Made For? ‒ with FINNEAS hinting at a distinctive tone shift right afterwards.

“It carries the same sparse fragility as What Was I Made For?” say Rolling Stone of Skinny, “featuring Eilish’s whispered vocals over a gorgeous melody. But the lyrics are even more devastating, as Eilish tackles the misconception that losing weight signifies happiness.

“If you’re remembering ‘What Was I Made For?’ and then you hear [the opening track], you go, ‘Oh, OK. I understand this world.’ Then the drums come in [on “Lunch”], and it really is the kill-the-main-character-type beat,” FINNEAS said.

“It’s like Drew Barrymore being in the first five minutes of Scream and then they kill her. You’re like, ‘They can’t kill Drew. Oh, my God, they killed Drew!’”

Billie Eilish’s new album Hit Me Hard and Soft is out on May 17