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Finneas on Producing & Co-Writing Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy,’ Their Hot 100 No. 1 About a ‘Funny Villain’: Chart Beat Podcast

Finneas analyzes the song with Hit Songs Deconstructed's Dave & Yael Penn.

Welcome to the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, where each week co-hosts Gary Trust and Trevor Anderson, from the Billboard charts department, discuss why what’s on the charts … is on the charts, while also looking at current chart action in a historical context for even greater insights.

This week, Gary and Trevor welcome special guest Finneas, who produced and co-wrote Billie Eilish‘s recent Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “Bad Guy.” Finneas (Eilish’s brother) discusses, in great detail, the smash with longtime podcast contributors Dave Penn and Yael Penn of Hit Songs Deconstructed, which analyzes the compositional characteristics of top 10 Hot 100 hits.

A few excerpts from Finneas, whose debut EP, Blood Harmony, arrives Oct. 4 and whose headline tour begins Oct. 15:

On the song dethroning the longest-leading hit in Hot 100 history, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” (featuring Billy Ray Cyrus), after 19 weeks at No. 1:

“I don’t know how I feel. I felt no competitive nature with Lil Nas X. I think he’s a sweetheart, and I think that song is incredibly catchy and fun. I couldn’t be happier for him and his 37-year run at No. 1!”

On the song’s bass intro, when Eilish performs the song live:

“Kids in the crowd sing along to the bassline. It’s like a soccer chant. It’s the best.”


On Eilish’s intimate vocal:

“A lot of the time, in pop music especially, there’s reverb. And the reason is that reverb makes vocals sound better 99% of the time. It makes the notes ring out. I have nothing against reverb.

“But one of our purposes was to make it feel like you were sitting right next to Billie. You know, we made this whole album in a bedroom. So, I think when you make an album in an environment, you kind of want it to sound like that environment and, obviously, my little bedroom at my parents’ house had no reverb.

“So, we liked how the vocals felt, and we just started to embrace it.”

On the song’s signature spoken-word “Duh!”:

“I think we’re always looking for ways to inject a sense of humor into our music. I think it might’ve just been a thing we were saying. We had the whole hook and there was a long pause, and I think we might’ve said, ‘duh!,’ and we thought that was funny.

“And then, of course, the whole deal with any halfway spoken-word thing is that you’re like, ‘Well, that will be easy, because I don’t have to have perfect pitch on it; it’s just a word.’ And you say ‘duh’ like a dozen hundred times … And then it doesn’t sound natural, it doesn’t sound good.

“It took an incredibly high number of takes and, even then, we still were second-guessing it. But I really like the delivery that she had a lot. It’s got such good character.”

On the song’s overall quirky storyline:

“I just feel like the whole song couldn’t be taking itself less seriously. It would be such a boring song to listen to if you were listening and it was just like, ‘I am so evil and bad,’ and, like, hard-core.

“The song has that laugh in it. We wanted it to really be like this kind of hilarious thing that … you know, it wasn’t a joke song at all to us, but it has a funny villain.”


Enjoy the latest Billboard Chart Beat Podcast and check back for additional upcoming episodes with artists, label executives, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes! Plus, the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast is also available on Acast, Spotify, Google Play, Overcast, PocketCast, Podbean, Stitcher and TuneIn.

Finneas Luke Fenstemaker