Billie Eilish might be one of the biggest names in pop right now, but the singer has divided people all over the world by revealing she doesn’t know who Van Halen is.
The 17-year-old made the confession while appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, after host Jimmy explained he was her age in 1984 – a time when the popular rock band was at the height of its fame.
You can watch Kimmel quizzing Billie Eilish over her (lack of) knowledge on ‘80s music here:
Of course, Jimmy makes a fair point in defending Billie, by saying: ‘If you asked me questions about 1943, I probably wouldn’t know the answers either.’
But weeks after the programme aired on November 22, the conversation has gone viral, with thousands of social media users claiming what she should and shouldn’t know based on her age and profession.
Many people have argued knowledge – or at least awareness – of Val Halen should be near-universal, while others quite rightly pointed out she was born in 2001, and makes pop music, a far cry from the heavy rock created by Van Halen.
One Twitter user claimed Billie not knowing Van Halen as ‘what’s wrong with many people of today’s generation’ before going on to rant about people only ‘following the trend’ with ‘no musical background’.
‘Sorry, she works in music and claims to be skilled and innovative in the craft,’ another ranted. ‘She should know who they are. There are 5 year olds who know music from Van Halen’s high era. 3 yr olds [sic] who dance to Michael Jackson. She probably only listens to hip-hop and pop.’
Fortunately, the slightly-less ‘outragey’ side of the internet was quick to defend Billie, pointing out she’s literally 17 and therefore doesn’t necessarily have a back catalogue of every popular band that existed 40 years ago.
But while social media continued to debate what the Bad Guy singer should and shouldn’t know, journalist Drew Magary noted one of the best ironies of all time: Van Halen lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen almost certainly hasn’t heard of Billie Eilish because he doesn’t care about other artists.
In a 2015 interview with Billboard, Eddie admitted he ‘doesn’t listen to anything’ besides the music he’s actively making, so I dare bet the chances of him ever having heard of Billie are slim to none.
At the end of the day, Billie is still the youngest artist ever to be nominated in the four major Grammy Awards, so it seems like she’s done pretty well without an extensive background knowledge of every popular band to ever exist.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.