billie eilish van halen

Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

Billie Eilish doesn’t know who Van Halen is

Should a teen pop star know anything about a rock band from the '80s?


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Dec 2, 2019   Updated on May 19, 2021, 9:32 pm CDT

Should a teenaged pop star know anything about an ’80s rock band? What should a 17-year-old know? These are the hard questions after pop superstar Billie Eilish told talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that she didn’t know anything about the popular hard-rock act Van Halen. 

Van Halen, which peaked commercially during the early to mid-’80s, ranks among the best-selling artists in the United States. The “Jump” and “Hot for Teacher” band has sold 56 million albums in the U.S., and more than 80 million worldwide.

The “Bad Guy” singer is the youngest artist to ever be nominated in the four major Grammy Awards: record of the year, song of the year, album of the year, and best new artist. However, she was only born in 2001.

On the Nov. 22 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the host told the singer that he was 17 in 1984 and proceeded to quiz her on famous artists of the ’80s. Madonna and Cyndi Lauper? Check and check. Van Halen or legendary hip-hop trio Run DMC? No dice.

Kimmel defended her lack of knowledge during the interview: “If you asked me questions about 1943, I probably wouldn’t know the answers either.”

Almost a week later, her response began going viral via Twitter.

Once the video hit social media—throwing Kimmel’s defense to the side—opinions arrived from all directions on what exactly she should and shouldn’t know, given her age and profession. 

Some have commented from the premise that Van Halen should be something constant, or near-universal, to the point that a 17-year-old singer should have a broad awareness of the band. This notion, or rather a rejection of it, might’ve caused hurt feelings.


Some “stay off my lawn” types have even taken to directly bashing her, her music, even Interscope, her record label.

Then, you have a more reasonable reaction based on the realities for today’s teenagers. Why would she know who Van Halen is?

Journalist Drew Magary noted the greatest of ironies related to Van Halen bandleader and guitarist Eddie Van Halen—he probably has never heard of Billie Eilish either, or anyone else for that matter. 

Here’s the whole segment for full context:


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*First Published: Dec 2, 2019, 1:27 pm CST