What does "my strange addiction" by Billie Eilish mean?
“my strange addiction” Lyrics Meaning
While Billie Eilish has not yet commented on the meaning of this song as of the release of this blog post, this is not the first time she has touched on the topic of being addicted to a person. She and FINNEAS discussed the same concept as being the motivation for some of the lyrics in another song, “wish you were gay”, also on the album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” Where “wish you were gay” focused more on the coping with rejection, “my strange addiction” centers around the unhealthy addiction to a person who is all wrong for her. (Note: when I say “her”, or “Billie”, I am referring to the narrator of the song, as she has not confirmed or denied if this song is biographical in nature.)
“Deadly fever, please don’t ever break”
The addiction she feels to this person is causing her pain that is slowly killing her with its “deadly fever”. Still, she refuses to let go of the idea of being with him and even goes so far as to ask her obsession to be unwavering and to “never break.” Where many pop songs have used the idea of drug addiction as a metaphor for love, Billie Eilish emphasizes the negative impact of this addiction while writing it from the perspective of someone who is experiencing it in a deadly way.
Don't ask questions you don't wanna know
Learned my lesson way too long ago
To be talkin’ to you, belladonna
Shoulda taken a break, not an Oxford comma
Take what I want when I wanna
And I want ya
Billie knows she shouldn’t flirt with the disaster a relationship with this person would bring; she “learned [her] lesson way too long ago / to be talkin’ to you, belladonna.” We know he’s bad for her by her calling him “belladonna”, (also known as deadly nightshade) which is a very potent and poisonous plant that can kill those who ingest it. She has been here with him before and she “shoulda taken a break” and ended things instead of “an Oxford comma”, which comes before the continuation or finale of a list in a sentence.
Bad, bad news
One of us is gonna lose
I'm the powder, you're the fuse
Just add some friction
She has just confessed that “[she] want[s] [him].” He may not want to be with her (this could draw from a similar experience as the one she describes in “wish you were gay”), but she “takes what [she] wants”, so it’s “bad news” for one of them. She likely believes she’ll be able to win him over because of how intensely she feels for him. She’s “the powder, [he’s] the fuse”, meaning together they would be explosive. While to many people this may sound like a negative, it does not appear to be so to her. Because she is seeking this passionate, explosive romance, she is only more enticed by the idea.
You are my strange addiction
You are my strange addiction
My doctors can't explain
My symptoms or my pain
But you are my strange addiction
The desire she feels for him is not something she can understand or explain. There is not a specific thing she can point to say, “That’s why I love him so much!” Instead, she is left feeling confused as to why she is so wholly consumed by her desire to be with this person. It is a “strange addiction.” It is killing her inside but she doesn’t know how to stop. The “doctors” who “can’t explain / [her] symptoms or [her] pain” are likely friends and family who she turns to in order to process her feelings for this person. They are just as confused by why he has such a hold on her and why it is causing her so much pain.
Deadly fever, please don't ever break
Be my reliever ’cause I don’t self medicate
And it burns like a gin and I like it
Put your lips on my skin and you might ignite it
Hurts, but I know how to hide it, kinda like it (Teh)
Even though she has a “deadly fever”, she hopes it won’t “ever break.” She hopes she will always feel this way for him. It is a “reliever” to her, and she feels it is all she has to alleviate her greater pains because she doesn’t “self medicate.” This could be a reference to “xanny”, where she takes a stand against drug use, or it could be more metaphorical in meaning. If it is metaphorical, it could mean that she needs emotional support from him because she is unable to give it to herself. Her attraction to him “burns like a gin” but she “like[s] it.” There is something thrilling about the obsession. His touch has a strong impact on her, and she feels that if he were to “put [his] lips on [her] skin”, “[he] might ignite it.” She knows in the end, closeness to him will bring her pain, but she is so caught up in her unhealthy obsession that she decides to “hide it” because she “kinda like[s] it.”
Bite my glass, set myself on fire
Can't you tell I'm crass? Can’t you tell I'm wired?
Tell me nothing lasts, like I don't know
You could kiss my— asking about my motto
Both “bite my glass” and “set myself on fire”, are acts that if taken literally would be forms of self-harm. (The line “bite my glass” is also a possible prelude to the song following this one, called “bury a friend,” in which the monster under the bed tells her to “step on the glass, staple [her] tongue.”) She knows that entering into a relationship with this person is the emotional equivalent to these acts, indicating she knows how unhealthy this is. She excuses her behavior by saying, “Can’t you tell I’m crass? Can’t you tell I’m wired?” Indicating that she knows it’s not a good idea to keep going, but she’s past caring. She is aware “nothing lasts” and is angry when someone tries to talk her out of pursuing the relationship. She wants it despite the damage it will do to her.
Deeper Meaning of “my strange addiction” by Billie Eilish
“my strange addiction” is a song that many people will likely relate to on some level. It’s very common to be attracted to someone who would make a bad partner, and who we know is wrong for us. So why do we like them? It’s confusing and strange. What Billie and FINNEAS do an excellent job of highlighting is the pain that can accompany this attraction if it is allowed to grow over a long period of time. In some ways, the over-the-top intensity of the song makes the very thing the narrator clings to unattractive. Most people don’t want a deadly fever, or to be in love with belladonna. The narrator is headed for some painful times with the course she is on, but maybe that’s why Billie and FINNEAS wrote this song: to show people how damaging it can be to pursue unhealthy relationships, no matter how much you like the person.