Last week, Billie Eilish released her new album HIT ME HARD AND SOFT and it’s already outselling the rest of the UK Top 5 on the Official Albums Chart

But the album’s title raises the question: does Eilish’s new music hit hard, soft, or both? And what musical evidence is there to support the answer?

We used Musiio AI tagging analysis to dig into that eponymous concept to uncover the details behind this album.

Here’s what we found out.

How Eilish’s new music reflects her youth

Eilish described writing her new music as a process of coming back to the girl that she was before her 2019 debut album made her a global sensation. 

Intriguingly, the energy of the songs in HIT ME HARD AND SOFT has a pattern very similar to that of her first EP don’t smile at me (2017).

For Eilish, creating the same emotional resonance as her first songs is intentional. She explained to Rolling Stone that the new album “feels like my youth and who I was as a kid.”

Eilish has succeeded in rediscovering her original sound, but does this tell us anything about her new album hitting hard and soft?

The majority of Eilish’s latest songs have a medium energy, which suggests that the tracks fall somewhere in between harder hitting and softer music.

But are there any other details in the music that can improve this distinction?

Contrasts in BPM and mood

If we dive deep into the tempo of the songs on HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, two different BPM groups are revealed: tracks between 61-79 BPM and tracks between 90-129 BPM.

There’s also a complete lack of tracks with tempos from 80-89 BPM, which widens the disparity between these two groups of songs.

Note: some songs on HIT ME HARD AND SOFT have multiple BPMs, but these still fall either side of the 80-89 BPM interval. For clarity, only one BPM from each track has been noted in the graph above.

For example, the album’s opening track ‘SKINNY’, which addresses themes of body dysmorphia, is 68 BPM. This creates a melancholy, mysterious, and peaceful mood.

However, the very next track, ‘LUNCH’, is an unapologetic celebration of Eilish’s queerness and sexuality. The music skips up to 126 BPM which creates a contrastingly dancy, playful, and confident atmosphere.

But how does Eilish explain these contrasts in her music?

Hitting hard and soft

Eilish has revealed that the album title derives from a conversation she had with her brother and closest collaborator Finneas, when she mistakenly thought the name of a synth in Logic Pro was called “Hit Me Hard and Soft”.

“I thought it was such a perfect encapsulation of what this album does. 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.”

By experimenting with tempo to create contrasting moods, Eilish has succeeded in doing two things at one, hitting both hard and soft.

Given that this album represents a return to her youth, it makes you wonder how Eilish’s continued growth as an artist will affect her music.

Will the hard and soft poles in her music become even more polarised and distinct, or will she continue to find ways of blending the two in her next album?

For now, enjoy listening to HIT ME HARD AND SOFT. It’s sure to fit whatever mood you’re in.

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