Eichler Homes Hit Big in Music Video

Billie Eilish rolls down Nanette Street in Eichler's Balboa Highlands tract in her remarkable music video, 'bad guy.' Video images, Darkroom/Interscope

She is one of the most revered young artists in the world of pop music with what the music site Spin calls a “unique stylistic identity.” How better to express that identity, then, than turning to a very special place to film the video for her highest charting single?

That place is Balboa Highlands, a neighborhood built by Eichler in the northernmost reaches of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.

The recently released video for ‘bad guy,’ from Billie Eilish’s first album, ‘We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,’ had at recent look 99,251,817 views on YouTube, many by the author of this blog, who was trying to make out the story.

Wait. 99,251,817? Are there that many people anywhere watching anything? Where do these numbers come from? Yes, Billie Eilish is a phenomenon.

How many Eichlers anywhere, at any time, get that many views? Even on heavy open house days, even when shown in the touching Jennifer Aniston drama, ‘Cake,’ even when Joe opened his all-steel X-100 for tours in the mid-1950s and tens of thousands poured through?

This remarkable line of cypress trees, which are seen in the Billie Eilish video, are a Balboa Highlands neighborhood landmark. Photo by Dave Weinstein

And there will undoubtedly be many more viewers for this video, seeing that the single “debuted atop the charts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Norway, at number two in Ireland, Malaysia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, and at number seven in the United States,” according to Wikipedia.

It’s a catchy tune, ‘bad guy,’ even for listeners not in its target demographic. In fact, after numerous viewings, the low pounding of the rhythm track and Billie’s inflectionless emoting is hard to get out of the mind. The album is from Darkroom/Interscope.

But it’s the images that really put the thing over – and not just the Eichler homes Billie rolls past. Indeed, the Eichlers come across as some of the more traditional imagery here.

Maybe to the very young generations, Eichlers really are classics from a distant and fading past, like the Victorian home that set the mood for Hitchcock’s super-creepy ‘Psycho.’

There is one creepy scene here too, a guy doing pushups in the Eichler living room with Billie sitting on his back

Billie spends time in this video in a hyper-colorized red desert, pouring milk into the mouth of some man, and at one point holds the heads of two men in plastic, water filled bags – before puncturing one of the bags.

War of the sexes? Power? Dental braces? This song is far from lightly frivolous. And this girl is 17 years old.

“Blood drips from her nose onto bruised knees and white slide sandals as she sings about her cunningness,” Trey Alston writes for MTV News. “One minute she's as bright as the sun with a mustard-yellow hoodie, the next minute she's in saggy black threads, iced out with an assortment of chains and diamonds. The entire time, we're never in the dark on her moral compass. She's bad, unconditionally.”

Billie Eilish also spends time by the backyard pool in the video.

Alston adds:

Her evil is macabre but enticing. Just when you want to turn your head, she breaks into an innocent dance number – a welcome reminder that she's not even old enough to legally buy cigarettes yet.”

It’s not clear how the lovely Eichlers of this hilly tract help Billie define her unique style. Queries to Eilish through her management, and to the deeply talented director of the video, the Berkeley-bred David Charles Meyers, went unanswered.

Balboa Highlands has become an important little outpost of Hollywood, being maybe 45 minutes north of Sunset Strip on a good traffic day. Many commercials and even a few feature films – including 'Cake'– have been filmed there.

The Eichler in this shoot is a superstar, having served as a set for 80 to 100 videos, commercials, or fashion shoots, says Michael Hemming, who owns the home with his wife Susanna Hemming. "It's one of the most popular ones [in the neighborhood]," he says. "We're in the top three."

Bruce Willis and Amy Poehler are among the performers who have strutted their stuff in their house. Billie managed to come and go without attracting much neighborhood attention.

"I just talked to my neighbor yesterday," Hemming says. "He has two teenage boys. They found the video online. They didn't know it was being filmed at our house. They went crazy that Billie Eilish was in the neighborhood and they didn't know it."

Neither Michael nor Susanne nor their ten-year-old son, Paul, were at home for the shoot. Paul has since become a fan of Billie.

Hemming says the house combines original mid-century modern style and a more modern look in a fusion that attracts location managers and directors. Plus, he and his wife work hard to keep the house looking good, and work hard to show it off to many location, technical, and other scouts.

"There's a myth that [people whose houses are used for shoots] are making tons of money for doing nothing. But it is work, it is actual work," he says. "And the money we make is reinvested in the house."

Film shoots can inconvenience neighbors. A portion of Nanette Street had to be shut to allow Billie and friends to roll. Hemming says a city-affiliated outfit called FilmLA surveys neighbors before shoots in an effort to ease strains.

"I like the video very much," Hemming says. "It's different."

Let’s hope those 99 million YouTube fans don’t drop by for a visit.

Keep in touch with the Eichler Network. SUBSCRIBE to our free e-newsletter