Listen to This: Nilüfer Yanya’s latest song confirms she’s an idol in the making

Read about this week’s most notable singles by Rosalía, BANKS and more.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

(Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

“the dealer” by Nilüfer Yanya

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Arts Editor

To list the music idols who have come from the United Kingdom would be to write a never-ending book. The Rolling Stones defined rock, the Sex Pistols created punk, The Beatles and David Bowie captured the world and Aphex Twin reinvents electronic music anytime he decides to release a new album. It’s ridiculous how much cultural capital emanates from the isle, and it must be difficult for any artist trying to make it there to bear the weight of such a heavy musical history. Nonetheless, Nilüfer Yanya seems to be doing just that. She has carved out a space for herself against all the vapid sounds that dominate the airwaves and all the important tunes that probably plagued her upbringing in the United Kingdom. Her latest single, “the dealer,” combines her incisive lyricism with an energetic drum pattern that hearkens back to Bowie’s experiments with drum ‘n’ bass during the “Earthling” era. The final result is a touching and bouncy track that hides its poignant truths under a melodic groove. Yanya is no longer a rising artist, but rather another idol in the making.


Isabella Armus, Deputy Arts Editor

Serving as the third micro-single for Rosalía’s upcoming album “MOTOTAMI,” “CHICKEN TERIYAKI” is a hamfisted dance track laced with pure, energetic fun. With a reggaeton beat as sticky as the track’s culinary namesake, Rosalía slurs bars about girls and cash such as: “Rosa’ sin tarjeta / Se las mando a tu gata / Te la tengo con Roleta / No hizo falta serenata” as a comedic riff on laissez-faire flexing. Though the song barely reaches the two-minute mark, “CHICKEN TERIYAKI” is jam-packed, as Rosalía’s tongue-in-cheek confidence and Japanese mall food name-checking continues throughout the mix. She even references several New York City neighborhoods and boroughs in between the flashy choruses, including Washington Heights, Queens and Tribeca. Although the lyrics are undeniably silly and even slightly absurd, the blaring percussion and Rosalía’s charisma is a recipe for a quick boost of much-needed serotonin. Try listening while walking down the street, you may find yourself shouting along with: “Pa’ ti naki, chicken teriyaki!” 

“Holding Back” by BANKS

Yas Akdag, Music Editor

On “Holding Back,” BANKS does just the opposite. The latest single off of her upcoming album “Serpentina,” “Holding Back” is sexy, anthemic and catchy. It’s signature BANKS — think vocoders, overlapping melodies and thick, rave-worthy bass with a few sonic updates. “Holding Back” opens with a pitched-up version of the chorus vocals and rich, gospel-like harmonies — it almost sounds like a sample you’d find on a Drake track — but far better. The rest of the production is also excellent, blending R&B and electro-pop, but BANKS’ voice is the star of the show. Gritty, edgy, technically brilliant and powerful, her vocals heighten the song’s sharp storytelling. “I remember when you locked us out / We had to climb in through the window,” she sings.  If I had to use one word to describe “Holding Back,” it would be “vulnerable.”

“Wait” by Troye Sivan & Gordi

Candace Patrick, Staff Writer

Troye Sivan’s newest single, “Wait,” comes from the soundtrack of “Three Months,” an indie coming-of-age film in which he stars as the teen protagonist, Caleb, who is anxiously awaiting his HIV-test results. In teaming up with fellow Australian singer-songwriter Gordi, the pair creates a song perfectly embodying the subject matter of “Three Months,” suggesting that because the future is uncertain, there is no use in holding back from emotion. Although written with the plot of the movie in mind, “Wait” still exemplifies the quintessential pop song and does not deviate far from Sivan’s usual work. The echoey vocals and sentiments of young love align perfectly with his beloved electro-pop sound. Gordi’s distinct filtered vocals contrast with the song’s light and airy quality, blending seamlessly with Sivan. The chorus begins with the lyrics “One thing I am sure of is everything will change / Times move fast / You grow old / Days we can’t rearrange,” while upbeat percussion and electric guitars serve up some serious summer nostalgia.

“Open Channels” by BADBADNOTGOOD

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Arts Editor

BADBADNOTGOOD has straddled the line between jazz and electronica since they started releasing music. Their latest single, “Open Channels,” represents a full immersion into jazz as it should sound in today’s day and age. If jazz is to be defined by a spirit of improvisation and constant renewal, it’s easy to understand why the genre often elicits repulsion on behalf of youngsters who associate it with elevator music or the type of sound that plays in the background of a restaurant. Jazz, as it was at the height of the post-war era — think Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk and Alice Coltrane — has been mimicked ad nauseam and thus, though ever-alluring, has lost the spirit of renewal that defines the art-form. Jazz as it’s never been played before can be found in the music of BADBADNOTGOOD. “Open Channels” is a seemingly gentle track that eases its way into exhilarating transgressions before returning to its leading beat. More importantly, it is a song that dares to experiment with the played-out structure of jazz, infusing electronic instruments into its DNA in order to develop new sounds and sonic mixtures. It reminds listeners that jazz will always be around so long as the right musicians understand they must take the genre where it’s never gone in order to create something memorable. 

Contact the Music Desk at [email protected].