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The Student News Site of Elmwood Park High School

The Tiger

The Student News Site of Elmwood Park High School

The Tiger

Album Review: Optimist by FINNEAS


Finneas O’Connell is a 26 year old singer-songwriter and record producer. I decided to write about him for our 6th issue because he is super talented. He helps his sister, Billie Eilish, make music and has helped many other artists like Selena Gomez, Halsey, and Girl In Red, but has also made music of his own. For this article, I’m going to review his debut album Optimist.

Who is Finneas?

Finneas O’Connell was born on July 30, 1997. His parents, Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell, stated in an interview that they were able to see Finneas’ incredible talent for creating music from a super young age. He was able to write sheet music and played many different instruments. At age 12, he joined his mom’s songwriting class making his talent for music even clearer. At age 15, he was in a rock band called the Slightlys. In 2015, Billie’s hit song “Ocean Eyes” was released and it was a song that was originally meant for his band but he remade it to what it is now. He continues to help his sister with her music and produce for her. After some time of helping her and other artists create music, he wrote music for himself.

His only solo work isn’t just the album Optimist. He has made many singles like “New Girl”, “Break My Heart Again”, “Claudia”, and many others.  After making singles, he released a 7 track EP on October 4, 2019 called Blood Harmony. His most recent solo work is a single named “Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa” which is about his girlfriend, Claudia Sulewski. It was released on July 14, 2022.

The cover for “Claudia” is artwork that was made by his girlfriend. In an Instagram post talking about the release of the song, Finneas said that he wrote the first verse the night he met her and wrote the rest two days later.

Blood Harmony Track-list:

  1. I Lost A Friend
  2. Shelter
  3. Lost My Mind
  4. I Don’t Miss You At All
  5. Partners in Crime
  6. Let’s Fall in Love for the Night
  7. Die Alone


Finneas started to work on his debut album, Optimist, in late 2020 and released it on October 15, 2021. The album consists of 13 tracks that he wrote lyrics for and produced. In an interview with MTV News, he says that he got the album name not because he himself is an optimistic person, but because he thinks that “optimism is something that you can work at and get better at” (Finneas, 2021).

The cover for the album has ballerinas and it’s the main theme for the album as it pops up in lyric videos and merchandise. When announcing its release on social media, Finneas said “Thanks for listening to my songs and letting me do this for a living” (Finneas, 2021).

Optimist Track-list:

  1. A Concert Six Months From Now
  2. The Kids Are All Dying
  3. Happy Now?
  4. Only A Lifetime
  5. The 90s
  6. Love Is Pain
  7. Peaches Etude
  8. Hurt Locker
  9. Medieval
  10. Someone Else’s Star
  11. Around My Neck
  12. What They’ll Say About Us
  13. How It Ends

In this article, I will dive deep into my thoughts on “The Kids Are All Dying”, “Only A Lifetime”, and “Medieval”. In the end, I will share my thoughts on the overall album.

“The Kids Are All Dying”

Duration: 2:55

The music video for “The Kids Are All Dying” premiered on January 12, 2022. The music video takes place in a jewelry store where Finneas breaks in and starts stealing what’s in there. Towards the end of the video, you can hear police sirens in the background and he takes out a spray can. He starts to spray paint on the wall inside the jewelry store and the last frame of the music video is his drawing of a winking smiley face with a dollar sign as an eye.

The image above shows Finneas’ drawing from the video which was directed by Philip Andelman. Finneas commonly adds non-traditional sounds in songs he works on and in the beginning of the video, you hear diner sounds like plates clattering and people laughing.

To me, the meaning of the song is pretty clear. I think it’s about the world, its people, its problems, and how some important topics aren’t talked about enough. In the chorus of the song, he asks how musicians can sing about topics like love and drugs, but there are major problems happening like kids dying and politicians lying. During the bridge of the song, he sings about white privileges, saying that he’s seated in business class and the fact he’s “whiter than the ivory on these keys” (Finneas, 2021) referring to the white on piano keys. In an Amazon Music Video, he said that the song is “cynical and it’s about me and all my friends not changing the world and feeling bad about it” (Finneas, 2021).  Overall, I love this song because of what it is about and how it calls out important topics

My favorite lyrics:

“So shut up, the internet is mad. They say you’re problematic and you better take it back. There’s nothing you can do that people wont misunderstand. They won’t feel any better ‘till you feel bad.” (Finneas, 2021).

How can you sing about love when the kids are all dying? How can you sing about drugs? Politicians are lying. How can you sing about sex when the school is on lockdown, lockdown?” (Finneas, 2021).

“And good God, we never catch a break. Whatever’s on the news the other side will call it fake.” (Finneas, 2021).

“Only A Lifetime”

Duration: 4:16

Finneas’ “Only A Lifetime” also has a music video which was released on December 15, 2021. In the start of the music video, there’s a black screen and in the center it says “For my family” in white text. It then cuts to some fishes as the song takes place at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. Throughout the entirety of the video, Finneas roams around the aquarium. It’s a calm scene which fits the song perfectly because the song is a slow and calm song. At the end of the music video, the camera zooms out and shows Finneas’ family standing next to him.

The image above shows Finneas, his mom Maggie, his dad Patrick, and his sister Billie. The music video was directed by Sam Bennett and produced by Kristen Brancaccio.

The song is pretty sad and I think the title perfectly captures what it’s about. To me, it’s about not taking life for granted. We can get so lost in ourselves and let time go by. I think the song is saying to do what you can and appreciate every little thing because we only have one lifetime, which isn’t enough.

My favorite lyrics:

“Did every second really count or were there some you shouldn’t spend on anything but anyone you love?” (Finneas, 2021).

“Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass. It’s only a lifetime, that’s not long enough. You’re not gonna like it without any love, so don’t waste it” (Finneas 2021).

“I’m unprepared for my loved ones to be gone, call ‘em way too often now, worry way too much about mom” (Finneas, 2021).


Duration: 2:52

The 9th track off of the Optimist album does not come with a music video. The song is about cancel culture and how something can be a trend and be loved, but because of overexposure and it being overused, it becomes overrated. In an interview from the Tape Notes Podcast, Finneas recalls how he was a huge fan of a band but when their 2nd or 3rd album came out, he didn’t like it so he stopped being a fan despite loving them for a while before. He then said, “that combined with the cancel culture is just kind of a weird, like, kind of monarchy ‘long live the king’ thing that we do with media in general” (Finneas, 2022). In the interview, he also mentions that the song was written during the George Floyd protests and tied that to the lyric “If you get political, they’ll make you a criminal, it’s all a bit biblical” (Finneas, 2021) and how that’s saying “god forbid you have an opinion” (Finneas, 2022).

In Coachella 2022, Finneas was a part of the lineup. He sang “Medieval” and also sang a song from Disney’s Turning Red movie which he helped create the soundtrack for.

I really like how this song sounds, and I feel like it’s open about what Finneas said it’s about after hearing the meaning. I think some of this song is written from the perspective of Finneas during the story he shared in the interview because of the content in the first verse.

My favorite lyrics:

“What should we fight about this time? What will you write about this time? What does it matter if you’re not fine? You shoulda kept that sh*t offline” (Finneas, 2021)

“They’re gonna tear you from your pedestal, it’s almost inevitable. I’m not being cynical, it’s so unoriginal.” (Finneas, 2021)

“I never said it would be any fun. You never shoulda trusted anyone. They’ll love you till they know you’re done, then it’s off with his head” (Finneas, 2021)


Overall Thoughts

I really like Finneas’ work as an artist and a producer. Optimist is a 13 track album and I think the songs really fit together because of them being a perfect mix between upbeat and slow songs. Blood Harmony is also a great EP and when it comes to the songs, their meanings are more love-related whilst Optimist is more of a mix between love, relationships/family, and Finneas’ opinion on certain political/social topics. Finneas has talent and he has said before that he plans on releasing new music this year. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with but for now, I’ll keep enjoying what he has. I hope you give him a listen and enjoy his amazing work!

Works cited:

Ahlgrim, C. (2021, October 15). 25 songs you probably didn’t know were written or produced by Billie Eilish’s brother finneas. Business Insider.

FINNEAS. (2021). Optimist [Album]. Interscope Records.

Sager, J. (2024, March 11). All about Billie Eilish’s brother Finneas and their sibling bond. Peoplemag.

YouTube. (2019, October 22). Finneas: “blood harmony,” inspiration and touring with Billie Eilish | Apple Music. YouTube.

YouTube. (2021a, October 15). Finneas on “optimist” & what you may not know about him | MTV news. YouTube.

YouTube. (2021b, December 6). Finneas on optimist: A musical deep dive with fans | amazon music. YouTube.

YouTube. (2024, March 24). Finneas on cancel culture and the meaning of “medieval.” YouTube.

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About the Contributor
Lizbeth Casas
Lizbeth Casas, Staff Reporter
Hi! My name is Lizbeth Casas and I’m a freshman at Elmwood Park High School. I love listening to music. Some of my favorite artists are Twenty One Pilots, Late Night Drive Home, James Marriott. I also love reading William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper series. 
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