A video clip of a recent Billie Eilish interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in which she admits that she does know the ’80s rock band Van Halen has gone viral on social media.
Many Van Halen fans took to social media to express outrage after Eilish said she has never heard of the famous rock band from Pasadena, California.
In the interview, Kimmel tests Eilish’s knowledge of some of the top pop/rock singers and bands from the ’80s, decades before she was born. Kimmel asks Eilish if she knows Madonna and she said she did.
He then asks her about Van Halen.
“Can you name a Van Halen?” Kimmel asks.
“Who?” Billie Eilish responds.
“I’m gonna start crying,” Kimmel says.
Van Halen fans react on Twitter
That brief exchange between Eilish and Kimmel sparked a row on Twitter, with many Van Halen fans, and other fans of hard rock music, expressing disbelief that Eilish never heard of the famous rock band formed in the early ’70s in Pasadena.
Van Halen featured rock stars, such as guitarist Eddie Van Halen, his brother Alex Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, and son Wolfgang Van Halen, among others.
Older rock fans, in particular, railed against what they considered the falling standards of music and the ignorance of the younger generation about the pioneers of rock music.
Billie Eilish didn't know who Van Halen was, I'm sobbing. pic.twitter.com/tX6xrs7cIE
— Mack (@_Kenziepuff) November 29, 2019
I've been listening to Van Halen with my dad since I was a kid I'm shook
— Mack (@_Kenziepuff) November 29, 2019
Billie Eilish doesn’t know who Van Halen is.
Get off my lawn!
— Damon Johnson (@DamonJOfficial) December 2, 2019
But some Twitter users defended Eilish, saying she is just 17 years old and that critics were not being fair on her because she was born in 2001, long after Van Halen was formed in 1972.
Van Halen reached the peak of their success in the ’80s, two decades before Eilish was born. Others pointed out that Van Halen has only released one album — A Different Kind of Truth (2012) — since Eilish was born in 2001.
Van Halen was founded in 1972, close to 50 years ago, biggest in the 1980s, 35+ years ago. So Billie Eilish not knowing them is the equivalent of me at 16 in 1992 not knowing, say, a mid-level post-war jazz band that had a few hits in the early 1950s.
— Chris Thorpe-Tracey ⧖ (@christt) December 2, 2019
Why does anyone care that Billie Eilish doesn’t know who Van Halen is? They’re not culturally relevant. When I was a kid some old asshole got mad because I didn’t know who the Dave Clark Five was. I still don’t know who the fucking Dave Clark Five is. I think he just made them up
— maple cocaine (@maplecocaine) December 2, 2019
— Smash Mouth (@smashmouth) December 2, 2019
I say this as a superfan: Van Halen has given Billie Eilish no reason to know who they are. They've done very little during her lifetime.
Don't complain about other people's musical experience being different. Instead, share — give people a reason to love what you love. 🎧
— Dan Amrich (@DanAmrich) December 2, 2019
lol ask billie eilish if she knows who wilco is next
— kang👎 (@jaycaspiankang) December 2, 2019
now let's ask Van Halen if they know who Billie Eilish is and get performatively mad about that
— maura quint (@behindyourback) December 2, 2019
Van Halen member, Wolfgang, also contributed to the Twitter debate. He scolded Twitter users who attacked Eilish for not knowing about his band.
Music is supposed to bring us together, not divide us. Listen to what you want and don’t shame others for not knowing what you like.
— Wolf Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) December 2, 2019
Eilish first caught attention after she released her song Ocean Eyes on SoundCloud in 2015. The song was later released on Darkroom and Interscope Records label in 2016.
Her debut EP Don’t Smile at Me (2017) reached the top 15 in the U.S. She is also known for songs such as Lovely, released in April 2018, in collaboration with Khalid.
She released her debut studio album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? in March 2019. The album, which included hit singles such as When the Party’s Over, Wish You Were Gay, and Bad Guy, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.
Bad Guy was her first number-one single in the U.S.
She received six Grammy nominations in 2019, becoming the youngest person ever to be nominated in all of the four main award categories — Record, Song, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist — in the same year.