Rolling Stone just named Billie Eilish's debut album "When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" as the No. 1 top-selling album of 2019, based on a combination of physical sales and digital consumption.
The 18-year-old closed the year with a reported 2.5 million total album-equivalents sold, putting her at 400,000 more units ahead of runners-up Ariana Grande's "thank u, next" and Taylor Swift's "Lover," both of which sold roughly 2.1 million units in 2019.
These numbers account for digital and physical album sales, digital song sales and audio streams using a custom weighting system, according to Rolling Stone.
The last artist to see similar success with a debut album was 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson), who sold 6.5 million units of his album "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" in 2003, according to data measurement firm Nielsen.
Eilish recorded the album with her older brother Finneas in their family's two-bedroom home in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Most recently, the pair collaborated on the theme song for the upcoming James Bond film, "No Time to Die," out in April 2020. Eilish joins the likes of Nancy Sinatra, Tina Turner and Adele who have performed lead songs for the franchise, and she's the youngest artist in history to do so, according to the film's production team.
The teen began singing as a child and, at the age of 13, became known for singing "Ocean Eyes," which was written by her brother and recorded in his bedroom. They uploaded the song to SoundCloud for fun, and by early 2016, she had a record deal with Interscope Records.
"I was just making songs with my brother," she told Elle regarding going from singing at home to recording a full-length album. "Now it's like a thing: I'm this artist who's going against the whatever-the-f***." The entertainment industry often portrays Eilish as an anti-pop icon thanks to her tendency to buck popular style trends and wear baggy, street-inspired clothing, though she says this was never her intention. "I was just making what I wanted," she adds of her genre-defying sound.
Eilish began recording "When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" in May 2016, when she was just 14 years old. The album was released in March of 2019 and includes the Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping single "bad guy." She wrote the album alongside Finneas, and she says they often have sibling arguments over the creative process to this day.
"Somebody has to win — always," she told host Sean Evans on the YouTube series "Hot Ones."
Before her music career took off, Eilish says she grew up with limited means, was homeschooled by her former-actor parents, and worked part-time at a horse stable in exchange for lessons. She stopped after a few years, telling Rolling Stone she "couldn't take being the poor girl around the stable."
"I made a couple of friends," she told the magazine. "But otherwise nobody was very nice. Horse people don't like poor people."
At the end of 2019, Billboard reported Eilish was paid $25 million for an Apple TV+ documentary that is expected to follow her experience recording and releasing her best-selling album.
The 18-year-old recently secured six Grammy nominations for the categories of Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album. She's the youngest artist to earn nominations in all of the Grammy's top four categories, according to the Los Angeles Times.
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