Standing Up to Abuse

Today is a day of legends. Today there were drops by not one, but two members of pop royalty — Prince and Billie Eilish. If you haven’t heard of these two, well I don’t know where you’ve been, but I’m glad you found your way to Climate Culture! Separated by generations and genre, these two monumental stars both come with something to say. Prince’s estate released Prince’s first full post-humous album, Welcome 2 America, which was originally recorded in 2010. Billie Eilish released her sophomore album Happier Than Ever. And let me tell you — there is a lot to unpack.

Both of these albums deal with abuse. Eilish uses somber tones and delicate vocals to unpack her personal experience with an abusive relationship, while Prince uses bright, funky pop to examine the abuse of systemic racism in America. Listening to them both, it made me realize, what is climate change other than a form of abuse? People are dying, people are facing psychological trauma, and it’s the fault of a small segment people and companies taking advantage for their own gain. Climate change is a different kind of abuse, but it’s abuse all the same. Abuse is notoriously hard to stand up to, and often the survivors feel that they are somehow at fault. Have you ever felt guilty that you couldn’t spend the money to buy an electric car or completely rid your life of single use plastics? It’s not your fault. While these are great and helpful changes, they remain out of reach for most people in this abusive system. It’s time to call that system like what it is, and there is no better inspiration than Billie Eilish and Prince. So, let’s consider their albums.

Billie Eilish and Happier Than Ever
Billie Eilish was considered a global phenomenon after her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?  She created in her bedroom with her brother and producer FINNEAS. It dominated streaming services, airwaves, and the Grammys. With Happier Than Ever, Eilish considers love, abuse, her newfound fame. Most of all, though, she asserts that she is not in fact a phenomenon, but a woman. She is not a thing to comment on. She’s a person, and the only opinions that matter to her are her own.

Despite sounding much softer than her last, with fewer dance tracks and clanging production, she’s never sounded stronger than she does on this album. She’s naming abuse, and sticking up for herself. Check out the lyrics and songs below.

“I’m gettin’ older, I’ve got more on my shoulders/ But I’m gettin’ better at admitting when I’m wrong/ I’m happier than ever, at least, that’s my endeavor/ To keep myself together and prioritize my pleasure/ ‘Cause, to be honest, I just wished the word I promised/ Would depend on what I’m givin’ (not on his permission)/ (Wasn’t my decision) to be abused” from “Getting Older”

“Try not to abuse your power” from “Your Power”

“I’d never treat you this sh**y, you made me hate this city” from “Happier than Ever”

Prince and Welcome 2 America

Prince sadly passed away, but few would argue that he remains one of the greatest pop icons to ever live. He was also among the most prolific. In his vault, there are some thousands of never before-released songs, and today we got the first taste of a full album. In 2010, Welcome 2 America was created, and then mysteriously shelved at the last minute. Today, it remains more relevant than ever as Prince’s estate releases it into the world. It is impossible to overstate the impact Prince has had on pop culture.

Welcome to America is, for the most part, bright and loud, in a totally different soundscape than Eilish’s Happier than
. Behind the beats, though, he is taking on serious issues. Most of all, the plights of Black Americans. Prince calls out the continued abuse, while also offering the occasional hopeful anthem around which a community canrally. Check out the lines and songs below.

“Land of the free, home of the
slave” from Welcome 2 America

“If you’re ready for a brand new
nation/ (Y-E-S)/ If you’re ready for a new situation/ Say it (Y-E-S)/ If you’re ready, people, turn the page/ As long as they ain’t moving us to a bigger cage/ Oh yes” from “Yes”

Prince and Billie Eilish are different in so many ways, but they both show how to be brave and stand up to abuse. Eilish takes her most personal moments and makes them political, while Prince takes the political, and makes it anthemic. They both offer a way to stand up to abuse. Perhaps you possess a quiet confidence like Billie Eilish on “Your Power”, or perhaps you’re more like “Happier Then Ever”, screaming in catharsis. Maybe you prefer to groove like Prince and have a little fun while you’re at it. At On the Level, we’ll help you find a way to stand up to climate change. These are what our times demand. As Prince says, “What could be stranger than the times we’re in?”

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