Bad Guy (Billie Eilish song)

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Albert Flores

"Bad Guy" is a song by American singer-songwriter Billie Eilish and the fifth single from her debut studio album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019). It was released on March 29, 2019, through Darkroom and Interscope Records. The song was described as electropop, dance-pop, pop-trap, and nu-goth pop in press reviews, for which synth bass, a kick drum, finger snaps and 808 bass provide minimalist instrumentation. In the song's lyrics, Eilish taunts her lover for being a bad guy while suggesting that she is more resilient than he is. Eilish wrote "Bad Guy" with its producer, Finneas O'Connell, and provided additional production. Another version of the song, a collaboration with Canadian singer Justin Bieber, was released on July 11, 2019.

Upon its release, "Bad Guy" received mainly positive reviews. It was also likened to music recorded by the White Stripes, Lorde, and Fiona Apple. +more "Bad Guy" was a commercial success, reaching number one on the US Billboard Hot 100; elsewhere, the song topped the charts in several other countries worldwide including Australia, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, and Russia. In the United States, "Bad Guy" ended the record-breaking 19-week run of "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. "Bad Guy" also peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart, among others. It has been awarded several certifications, notably a tenfold platinum award from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and a sextuple one from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). "Bad Guy" has received several awards, including Record and Song of the Year at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.

Dave Meyers directed the music video for "Bad Guy" which was uploaded onto Eilish's YouTube channel at the same time as the single's digital release. The video depicts Eilish being involved in several activities, including wild dancing, suffering a nosebleed and sitting on the back of a man doing push-ups. +more Reviewers noted the video for its camp elements and eccentric imagery. For promotional purposes, Eilish performed the song on several occasions and also included it on the set list for her When We All Fall Asleep Tour (2019) and Where Do We Go? World Tour (2020).

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Background and release

Billie Eilish released her debut studio album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? on March 29, 2019, via Darkroom and Interscope Records. "Bad Guy" was simultaneously issued as the record's fifth single. +more The song was co-written by Eilish and her brother Finneas O'Connell, with the latter also produced the track and Eilish providing additional production. It was mastered by John Greenham and mixed by Rob Kinelski, both of whom also served as studio personnel. In August 2019, the single was made available for pre-order on cassette and scheduled to ship in October; selected cassettes were signed by Eilish. Additionally, a flexi disc was similarly released for pre-order to ship in the following 4-6 weeks. Each of the two releases came with a digital single delivered via email for US customers.

Composition and lyrical interpretation

"Bad Guy" is divided into two halves; the first is fast at 135 beats per minute (BPM) and the latter is slow at 60 BPM. The song is played in the key of G minor following a chord progression of Gm-Cm-D7, while Eilish's vocals span a range of F3 to C6. +more The track was called electropop, dance-pop, "pop-trap", and "nu-goth pop" in press reviews; it features a minimalist production consisting of synth bass, a kick drum, amplified finger snaps and 808 bass. Furthermore, the single's hook utilizes a synthesizer riff, which has been described as both "goofy carnival" and "cartoony". iHeartMedia referred to "Bad Guy" as an alternative rock song. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the utilization of a Sydney pedestrian traffic light sound in the song was revealed; it originates from a phone recording made by Eilish in February 2017. Vanity Fair Louie XIV labeled it "dance music through a fun house mirror". Alongside humorous cadences, Eilish uses several tongue-in-cheek lyrics. "Bad Guy" was inspired by Selena Gomez's "Everything Is Not What It Seems" (2007), the theme song for the teen sitcom Wizards of Waverly Place, alongside the video game music theme for Plants vs. Zombies.

In the lyrics, Eilish taunts a lover for being a bad guy; as the song progresses she suggests she is tougher than him, singing in a "nonchalant, self-effacing murmur". According to reviewers, the song also discusses themes such as misandry, gloating, sarcasm and naughtiness. +more During the track's half-spoken chorus, the singer elaborates on her relationship with fellow men and women, rejecting their expectations of her; "I'm that bad type / Make your mama sad type / Make your girlfriend mad type / Might seduce your dad type / I'm the bad guy, duh". Other lyrics include: "My mommy likes to sing along with me / But she won't sing this song / If she reads all the lyrics / She'll pity the men I know". Analyzing the lyrics of "Bad Guy", Caitlin White of Uproxx wrote that they see "a woman's teenage voice boast of its power, assert her sexual dominance, and use men as playthings instead of sing about being used as one by them". She continued; "'Bad Guy' positions a young female pop star in a role that's usually reserved for men working in rock or hip hop". AJ Longabaugh of V likened the lyrics to the later work of Amy Winehouse.

Critical reception

Upon its release, "Bad Guy" received mainly positive reviews, with several critics praising its lyrics. White of Uproxx likened the song to material released by the White Stripes, writing, "It's the kind of song that builds power as it unfolds, an anthem imbued with casual fearlessness". +more Labeling "Bad Guy" as a "low-key banger", Stereogum Chris DeVille drew comparisons between the song and the work of Lorde and Fiona Apple. Writing for PopBuzz, Sam Prance said "Bad Guy" is "iconic" and dubbed the "duh" lyric as "already one of the standout musical moments of 2019". He continued; "It's the perfect anthem for anyone who likes to get in touch with their dark side". Vanity Fair Louie XIV included the track in the magazine's list of "9 Songs From 2019 That Might Predict the Future of Pop", writing; "Billie has remade the look of pop success: ironic, self-aware, intimate, DIY, and paying little mind to dated standards for teen-pop idol-dom". Suzy Exposito of Rolling Stone said Eilish recalled DC Comics' character Harley Quinn during the song, "playing a comic book villain in a voice that suggests Lorde's rascal kid sister". In a negative review, Pitchfork's Stacey Anderson criticized Eilish for "bragging about statutory rape" and said she found the song "stale". Billboard included "Bad Guy" in their list of 100 songs that defined the 2010s.

In 2021, it was listed at No. 178 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

YearOrganizationAwardResult
American Music AwardsFavorite Music VideoNominated
MTV Millennial AwardsGlobal HitWon
MTV Video Music AwardsVideo of the YearNominated{{center
MTV Video Music Awards{{center
MTV Video Music Awards{{center
MTV Video Music Awards{{center
MTV Video Music Awards{{center
} |- | Best Pop Video | Nominated |- | Best Direction | Nominated |- | Best Editing | Won |- | Song of the Summer | Nominated |- | LOS40 Music Awards | Best International Video | | style="text-align:center;" rowspan="1"| |- |rowspan="1"|Teen Choice Awards | Choice Song: Female Artist | Nominated | |- |rowspan="1"|Q Awards | Best Track | Nominated | |- |rowspan="1"|Rockbjörnen | Foreign Song of the Year | Nominated | |- |rowspan="1"|BBC Radio 1's Teen Awards | Best Single | Nominated | |- |rowspan="2"|MTV Europe Music Awards | Best Song | Won | style="text-align:center;" rowspan="2" | |- | Best Video | |- |scope="row" rowspan="1"| MTV Millennial Awards | Global Hit | Won | style="text-align:center;" rowspan="1"| |- |scope="row" rowspan="2"| MTV Video Music Awards Japan | Best New International Artist Video | Won | rowspan="2" style="text-align:center;"| |- | Video of the Year | |- |scope="row" rowspan="2"| Melon Music Awards | Best Pop Song | Won | style="text-align:center;" rowspan="2"| |- | Best Song | |- |scope="row" rowspan="1"| NRJ Music Awards | Video of the Year | | style="text-align:center;" rowspan="1"| |- |scope="row" rowspan="3"| Telehit Awards | Best Anglo Video | Won | style="text-align:center;" rowspan="3"| |- | Best Anglo Song | Won |- | People's Best Video | |- |rowspan="2"|People's Choice Awards | Song of 2019 | | style="text-align:center;" rowspan="2"| |- | Music Video of 2019 | |- !scope="row" rowspan="9"| |rowspan="1"|TEC Awards | Outstanding Creative Achievement - Record Production/Single or Track | Nominated | |- | scope="row" rowspan="3"| Grammy Awards | Record of the Year | Won | style="text-align:center;" rowspan="3"| |- | Song of the Year | Won |- | Best Pop Solo Performance | Nominated |- | scope="row" rowspan="4"| iHeartRadio Music Awards | Song of the Year | Nominated | style="text-align:center;" rowspan="4"| |- | Alternative Rock Song of the Year | Won |- | Best Lyrics | Nominated |- | Best Music Video | Nominated |- |Queerty Awards |Anthem | Nominated | style="text-align:center;"| |}

Commercial performance

Upon the release of When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, "Bad Guy" debuted at number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100 on the week ending April 13, 2019, as Eilish's first top ten entry on the chart. It later occupied number two for a total of nine weeks, before ultimately reaching number one on the week ending August 24, 2019. +more "Bad Guy" ended the record-breaking 19-week run of "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. At 17, she further became the first artist born in the 2000s to achieve this feat and the youngest since then-16-year-old Lorde topped the ranking with "Royals" in 2013. Internationally, "Bad Guy" reached number one in Australia, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, and Russia. The song has been awarded multiple certifications, including a tenfold platinum award from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and a sextuple one from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). "Bad Guy" was the best-performing global single of 2019 with combined sales and track-equivalent streams of 19. 5 million units according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Music videos

A music video for "Bad Guy" was directed by Dave Meyers and was uploaded to Eilish's official YouTube channel on March 29, 2019. Additionally, Eilish released a vertical video on August 15, 2019. +more The video begins with a yellow backdrop while the opening track "!!!!!!!" from When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? plays. Eilish discusses taking out her Invisalign dental brace before laughing. She eventually kicks her way through a wall while wearing a yellow sweatshirt and sweatpants, and hands her dental brace to a man, Eric Lutz, on her right. Scenes showing Eilish dancing wildly are interspersed with her feeding pigeons, getting a nosebleed while wearing a white outfit in a blue room with a clock, pouring milk and cereal into a suited man's mouth against the backdrop of a red desert, riding on a miniature car with a gang of men on tricycles, wearing snorkel gear while men's heads float in plastic bags above her, and sitting on a wall in front of a group of overweight men who flex their bellies to the beat. The video ends sinisterly with Billie in a dark, red room, sitting on the back of a man who does push-ups. One comment to the clip on YouTube posted by Seth Everman, reading "I'm the bald guy", became the most-liked on the platform, gathering over three million likes as of November 2020. "Bad Guy" surpassed one billion views in November 2020; to celebrate, Google created an 'Infinite Bad Guy' interactive site that allowed users to switch between over 15,000 different covers of the song available on YouTube.

The video was positively received by music critics. Uproxx's White called the use of "!!!!!!!" at its beginning "effective". +more James Rettig of Stereogum noticed elements of camp although he acknowledged the video was "still being emotionally sincere and vulnerable. This one features a lot of weirdo imagery . in a way that's both goofy and genuinely unsettling". Chloe Gilke, writing for Uproxx, said the video takes several of the song's lyrics literally and that it is "awash in primary colors and black and white, Eilish's bold aesthetic". Rolling Stone Jon Blistein noticed "a series of strange, grotesque and weirdly hilarious sequences", while Laura Dzubay of The Michigan Daily pointed out "strange dances, from a backward Exorcist-style crawl to a squatting sidestep to an energetic roll". Upon its release, the video was accused of "blatantly" plagiarizing photographs by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari of Toiletpaper magazine. The video received significant attention online and was the subject of several memes. Melissa McCarthy parodied it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in May 2019. On the January 16, 2020 episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the show parodied the song as "Bond Guy", which references No Time to Die, where Eilish would provide the theme for the movie.

Live performances and other usage

Eilish has promoted "Bad Guy" through a number of live performances. On May 7, 2019, she sang it on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and on May 26 on BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend. +more The singer also performed the track at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 20, and at Glastonbury Festival on June 30. "Bad Guy" was included on the setlist of Eilish's When We All Fall Asleep Tour (2019). It was also performed at Pukkelpop in August of the same year. On September 29, 2019, Eilish performed the song on Saturday Night Live; her routine was compared to Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling" (1986) music video. She further sang "Bad Guy" on her Where Do We Go? World Tour (2020), and Happier Than Ever, The World Tour (2022).

In June 2019, Bastille covered "Bad Guy" at BBC's Maida Vale Studios as part of a medley that also included Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" (2009), Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" (2015), Dick Dale's "Misirlou" (1962) and their own "Bad Decisions" (2019). For their reinterpretation, Bastille added guitars and backup singers, and changed the song's lyrical plot by modifying the original line "I'm the bad guy" to "You're the bad guy". +more The track was also covered by Two Door Cinema Club on Radio 1's Live Lounge the same month, by Alexandra Stan on Virgin Radio Romania in July, as well as by multiple musicians in December during a live radio broadcast of Live From Here at the Town Hall. A ska punk cover of the song was made by ska band The Interrupters and used in the second season of the Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy. In April 2019, Team Blake Shelton's Kendra Checketts covered "Bad Guy" on the Live Playoff round of the sixteenth season of The Voice. In May 2020, Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante and Suicidal Tendencies bassist Ra Diaz covered the song virtually during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Alessia Cara also covered the song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as part of her Eilish impersonation.

"Bad Guy" was used for an advertisement for clothing manufacturer Calvin Klein's "My Truth" campaign, as well as commercials for Kia Seltos. It was included on the chart compilation album Now That's What I Call Music 103, and was used during the end credits of the 2019 superhero horror film Brightburn. +more It is also featured on the 2019 dance rhythm game, Just Dance 2020, and in the trailers for the 2019 film Bombshell, 2020 video game Cyberpunk 2077, and 2022 animated movie The Bad Guys. The song was further used in the 2021 movies Sing 2 and Back to the Outback. Among other parodies, one titled "Dad Guy" released by FunkTurkey on YouTube in August 2019, went viral. It replaces the original lyrics with jokes about fatherhood. A piano cover of "Bad Guy" by composer Ramin Djawadi was featured in the third episode of the fourth season of Westworld.

Justin Bieber version

Background and composition

On July 9, 2019, Eilish used her Instagram to dismiss rumours about a second studio album, hinting at the upcoming release of a secret project. Her brother Finneas O'Connell retweeted a tweet Justin Bieber had written the day before saying "Remix", leading to speculation. +more The remix version of "Bad Guy" was released on July 11, 2019, via Darkroom and Interscope Records. Prior to its premiere, the lyrics of the song were posted on Genius alongside its expected release date, labels and writers. Accompanying the release of the remix is cover artwork showing a photograph of a young Eilish-a fan of Bieber's-surrounded by his posters. Halle Kiefer of Vulture compared Eilish's look to that of JoJo Siwa.

The remix has identical credits to the original "Bad Guy" with the addition of Bieber and Jason Boyd as songwriters and composers. On the song, Bieber performs autotuned and rap-inspired vocals. +more His runs are added to the intro, following which he joins on the second verse, flaunting his "icy" wealth. He sings lyrics including: "I got more ice than, than the snow", "Cause I don't sleep, please don't wake me" and "It ain't political", adding the ad libitum "skrrt!". Bieber continues; "Yeah, I'm a bad guy/Ain't no holdin’ back guy/Come off like a mad guy/Always got your back guy/Yeah I'm the real type/Keep you full of thrills type/Show you what it feels like/Got an open invite", before chanting "I'm the bad guy". He growls into the second half of the song.

Reception and accolades

Music critics gave mixed reviews of the remix upon its release, mostly commenting on Bieber's appearance. Lake Schatz of Consequence of Sound wrote that Bieber's contribution failed to make a "huge" impact. +more Billboard Andrew Unterberger wrote; "Bieber's clearly having fun with his guest verse and ad-libs - the remix's high point might come with his mid-verse "skrrt!" exclamation - but he never seems to totally find his way into the song's manic-spooky energy". Stereogum editor Chris DeVille considered Bieber's vocals "entirely out of place," concluding that "he basically ruins a great song. " An editor of BreatheHeavy said the remix is "something no one asked for, but it'll certainly breathe new life into it". Callie Ahlgrim of Insider wrote; "Bieber takes some of the edge off of Eilish's brooding 'Bad Guy,' but not in a bad way. His sickly sweet voice glides over the thumping beat, creating an interesting and irresistible contrast". Jem Aswad of Variety likened the singer's vocal delivery to that of Justin Timberlake. The remix attained minor success on its own, but contributed to the original's rise to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It received a nomination in the Best Remix category at the 2020 iHeartRadio Music Awards.

Credits and personnel

Credits adapted from the liner notes of When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, and Tidal

*Billie Eilish - vocals, songwriter, additional producer *Finneas O'Connell - producer, songwriter *John Greenham - mastering engineer, studio personnel *Rob Kinelski - mixer, studio personnel

Justin Bieber version additional personnel *Justin Bieber - vocals, songwriter *Jason Boyd - songwriter

Charts

Weekly charts

Argentina (Argentina Hot 100)20
Brazil (Top 100 Brasil)84
China Airplay/FL (Billboard)3
Croatia (HRT)15
Colombia (National-Report)22
Ecuador (National-Report)40
Estonia (Eesti Tipp-40)1
Global 200 (Billboard)54
Greece (IFPI)1
Iceland (Plötutíðindi)1
Japan (Japan Hot 100)7
Latvia (LAIPA)1
Lithuania (AGATA)1
Luxembourg Digital Songs (Billboard)3
Malaysia (RIM)2
Mexico Airplay (Billboard)4
Romania (Airplay 100)41
Singapore (RIAS)5
South Korea (Gaon)5
US Billboard Hot 1001
US Rolling Stone Top 1003

Bolivia (Monitor Latino)11
Latvia (LAIPA)13
Lithuania (AGATA)6
Malaysia (RIM)11
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)5
Singapore (RIAS)5
South Korea (Gaon)200
Uruguay (Monitor Latino)11
US Rolling Stone Top 10011

Monthly charts

Brazil Streaming (Pro-Música Brasil)46
Paraguay (SGP)53
Russia Airplay (Tophit)1
South Korea (Gaon)5
Ukraine Airplay (Tophit)10

Year-end charts

Australia (ARIA)3
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)2
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)4
Belgium (Ultratop Wallonia)6
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)3
CIS (Tophit)3
Denmark (Tracklisten)5
France (SNEP)19
Germany (Official German Charts)6
Hungary (Dance Top 40)28
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)29
Hungary (Single Top 40)2
Hungary (Stream Top 40)1
Iceland (Plötutíðindi)5
Ireland (IRMA)3
Japan (Japan Hot 100)71
Latvia (LAIPA)1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)58
Netherlands (Single Top 100)13
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)3
Norway (VG-lista)5
Paraguay (SGP)53
Poland (ZPAV)61
Portugal (AFP)4
Russia Airplay (Tophit)2
South Korea (Gaon)14
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)5
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)6
UK Singles (OCC)4
Ukraine Airplay (Tophit)47
US Billboard Hot 1004
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)23
US Dance/Mix Show Airplay (Billboard)12
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)8
US Rock Airplay (Billboard)13
US Rolling Stone Top 1005

Bolivia (Monitor Latino)90
El Salvador (Monitor Latino)61
Italy (FIMI)13
Mexico (Monitor Latino)56
Spain (PROMUSICAE)23

Argentina Airplay (Monitor Latino)92
Australia (ARIA)22
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)29
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)64
Belgium (Ultratop Wallonia)71
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)18
Denmark (Tracklisten)37
France (SNEP)52
Germany (Official German Charts)40
Hungary (Dance Top 40)4
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)12
Hungary (Single Top 40)15
Hungary (Stream Top 40)17
Iceland (Plötutíðindi)55
Ireland (IRMA)34
Japan (Japan Hot 100)24
Netherlands (Single Top 100)92
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)43
Portugal (AFP)33
South Korea (Gaon)37
Spain (PROMUSICAE) Justin Bieber remix97
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)40
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)18
UK Singles (OCC)26
US Billboard Hot 10046

Australia (ARIA)92
France (SNEP)111
Global 200 (Billboard)58
Hungary (Dance Top 40)21
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)71
Hungary (Single Top 40)91
Portugal (AFP)149
South Korea (Gaon)165
Ukraine Airplay (Tophit)190

Decade-end charts

US Billboard Hot 10061

Certifications

Release history

RegionDateFormat(s)VersionLabel(s)
ItalyMarch 29, 2019Radio airplayOriginalUniversal
United StatesApril 29, 2019Original
VariousJuly 11, 2019Remix featuring Justin Bieber
ItalyJuly 12, 2019Radio airplayRemix featuring Justin BieberUniversal
VariousAugust 2019OriginalN/A

Notes

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