Banks born Jillian Banks is a indie singer and songwriter. Banks has released two albums, her debut album Goddess in 2014 and her sophomore album The Altar in 2016. With her third upcoming album (fittingly named III) being released on July 12, I thought it was the perfect time to explore her discography and explain how she has become one of my favorite singers today.
I found Banks in the most random way mostly due to the fact I wasn’t looking for her. I was looking for a song called Goddess on YouTube and went through plenty of songs that wasn’t the song I was looking for, one of those songs was Goddess by Banks and 5 years later it is the only song from that search I still listen to.
It wasn’t just the song that made me stay and listen to the song, it was also the lyric video. I mostly find lyric videos to be pointless, just something until the artist is ready to film a music video, but this one was different. It originally appears to seem like any other lyric video with the lyrics going along with the song, but if you stayed for the end like I did so many years ago you would know that things aren’t how they appear. Each lyric shown in the video is apart of a bigger picture and that bigger picture is Banks. All the lyrics in the song spell out Banks’s name and it so unexpected because it’s so causal. You never expect anything other than just to see the lyrics of the song, but Banks sees the bigger picture and she pulls the curtain down so we can too. With one lyric video, without seeing her face, without listening to an album, I was already a fan.
I remember a odd thing happening in 2014, Banks was being played on television shows and commercials. This wasn’t just odd because she was a indie singer, but odd because she was a indie singer with just one album under her name with no real following at this point. This didn’t seem to matter though as her song Waiting Game, which by the way was not a single (also odd) was being featured on Victoria’s Secret commercials, Grey’s Anatomy, a movie trailer for 50 Shades Of Grey, and on the soundtrack to the 2014 movie Divergent.
Banks’s biggest song from her debut album was called Beggin For Thread. In the United States, it peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Banks made her late night television debut performing the song along with Waiting Game on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2014. She also performed the song on The Late Show with David Letterman a year later.
Two of my favorite songs from her debut album are Brain and You Should Know Where I’m Coming From. The two tracks couldn’t be more different from each other, one’s an emotional ballad and the other’s is a unworldly powerhouse song that makes you want to scream. I think that’s the reason they’re both personal favorites for me. Banks is a multilayer artist, she can do any genre and any type of song whether it’s a ballad or a powerhouse song she can do it and she can do it well.
Banks released Brain as the first song off her debut album and I can see why, it’s a perfect song for capturing other people’s attention and showing them what your music is or so we think because like I stated before Banks can do it all she can do a song like this and still create a song like You Should Know Where I’m Coming From that couldn’t be anymore different from Brain, but it still somehow feels like Banks.
You Should Know Where I’m Coming From is a emotional and vulnerable ballad, something we hadn’t seen yet from Banks. Not all artists in Banks’s genre can do a ballad that doesn’t feel like it’s tacky or not even like them. That’s not the case with Banks, you know when you hear the song that this is all Banks, that is what she’s actually feeling and not something she’s just performing (it helps knowing she writes all her songs). This definitely one of Banks most personal songs mainly because of the emotion in her voice singing. It doesn’t feel inauthentic, because this is Banks opening up and showing us her at her most vulnerable.
The Altar (2016)
Banks’s debut album Goddess debuted on U.S Billboard’s 200 at 12. She would spend 2015 touring with The Weekend and working on her second album and by the time 2016 came around it was ready. In 2016, she would reach the Billboard 200 again with The Altar, the album peaking at 17. So how did Banks manage to hit gold twice? Well just take everything I said about Goddess and muplite it by two, because she took everything that made Goddess so great and went the extra mile for The Altar.
Banks released F*ck With Myself as the first single from the album and if people didn’t think she could catch lightning in the bottle twice, man were they proven wrong.
With a title like that you would assume that song is sexual, well not really. The song can definitely be interpreted that way, in fact I think that was what Banks wants you to think by the looks of the music video. However there’s more than just one interpretation to a song like this. Banks is singing about self-hate and self-love. You can either take the song literally and believe she’s feeling herself or more metaphorically by thinking she’s ruins things for herself more than anyone else. Either interpretation you take you can always view the song differently each time you listen to it. That’s what so great about a song with multiple meanings.
How does Banks follow up the lead single of her sophomore album, oh just with one of her most popular songs among fans, Gemini Feed.
This indeed is one of Banks’s best songs and it’s easy to why it’s so popular among fans. It’s much more than just a break up song, it’s song about a toxic relationship with an emotionally manipulative ex-lover of Banks’s who happens to be a Gemini like herself. Like the title states it’s about the two Geminis feeding in on each other flaws and becoming self-destructive in the process. It’s another personal song from Banks, but it’s also covered over by a heavy bass making it her own with her own electric style.
Though, Banks can cover up some of more personal songs with her singular style, however with To The Hilt she leaves it all behind and bares her soul for all of us to listen. I think that’s the reason it’s another favorite of mines. It’s rare we see Banks without all of the glitz and glam, but here she is fully herself, nothing to hide from. The song is also simply just beautiful and still gives me chills even 3 years later. It’s about two lovers pushing each other so hard that their relationship eventually suffers until it finally ends. It’s her most haunting song in my opinion, which is truly saying something.
Banks is that once in a generation type of artist. She can do it all, any genre, without ever feeling like anything other than herself. I am so grateful for having discovered her that fateful day 5 years ago. She hasn’t disappointed me yet which isn’t something I can say about all my favorite artists, but as with her music Banks continues to prove she is the expectation, not the rule.
III is set to be released on July 12, 2019.