On Jul. 12, at midnight, Banks grabbed the world’s attention as she released her highly anticipated third studio album, III. And ever since its summer release, many women have been inspired to “women up” and focus on being their best selves, including 21-year-old Avery Crocker, who has been a Banks fan since her 2014 debut album Goddess.
“It was deep,” Crocker spoke of her initial reaction to III. “Coming from The Altar [Banks’ second studio album] which felt like ‘screw men, who needs them’ to ‘okay, let’s unpack all of this anger’ was definitely a noticeable shift.”
When first hitting the charts, the 13-song album debuted at No. 3 on that week’s edition of the Billboard Top Album Sales chart and No. 21 on the Billboard 200, proving it a success as her previous studio albums Goddess and The Altar had peaked at No. 12 and No. 15. But with III being the alternative singer’s latest release since her two-year hiatus after her 2016 sophomore album The Altar, fans wondered what was going through her mind as she came back reinvented and in full swing.
“Yes, we [Banks fans] wanted an album, but we weren’t expecting one anytime soon. – Especially one as impactful and inspiring as III,” 21-year-old George Washington University senior Marie Demoussu said.
In an interview with Vanity Fair after III’s release, Banks, who was first discovered on SoundCloud in 2013, revealed that she put a pause on her career to take time to get to know herself again as just Jillian Rose Banks.
“I think I was past my limit of exhaustion, and I wasn’t physically feeling well at all,” the 31-year-old California-born artist told Vanity Fair of her quick rise to fame since being discovered. “I needed a break.”
“When you’re touring and performing in front of all those people, and you’re giving so much energy to so many people, it’s not quite normal… I needed some time to replenish my soul in real human ways,” she explained.
Fans took this well as it had made them feel closer to Banks leading III to become the artist’s highest-selling and most well-received album to date. But what mattered most about the album for the alternative singer was using it as a tool to empower women by fully embracing her own femininity and strength.
“It’s really about this transition between a girl and a wise woman,” Banks said of the album in a press release. And her message was instantly noticeable from the very first song on the album. The artist had gone from musing, “to think you would get me to the altar” to reflecting and roaring “you’ve been messing me around ’til now, and I let you push me around ’til now.”
With III, Banks captured youthfulness and naivety in songs like “Sawzall” and “What About Love” and pure empowerment and self-recognition in “Gimme.” III was the ultimate girl power-packed album which sent a message that easily encouraged women to self-reflect and remind them of their worth. Banks even used the album to reflect and get back to loving herself beyond her stage name.
“For me, every song is made to make me feel empowered — I use music to heal myself, and hopefully, that’s why other people connect to it because maybe it can heal them, too. Because of that, I think that there are usually lines in every song that make me feel strong, even if it’s not really directly about self-love,” the artist told Harper’s Bazaar.
Many women found III to be the marker in realizing that they need to let go of whatever is holding them back in life and begin learning to trust and be at peace with themselves. As Banks fan, Crocker said, songs one through 13 felt like a series of “epiphanies,” where Banks encouraged listeners to adopt her attitude of owning her power and refusing to let another person run their life.
But for Crocker, the ‘girl power’ message filled album wasn’t received in the traditional sense of what girl power stands for, which the Cambridge Dictionary defines as “the idea that women and girls should be confident, make decisions, and achieve things independently of men, or the social and political movement that is based on this idea.”
Instead, she found the album’s girl power theme in the way that it allowed women to feel vulnerable without shame. “This girl power could be seen in [women] having the courage to express emotions and realize their own faults and shortcomings,” she said. “It feels like taking back your right to your life and emotions and being unapologetic about them. Realizing that in a relationship, you can do so much for someone, and things could still not work out in the end.”
28-year-old Max Russell, a music reporter for The Young Folks, also found the album to be girl power inspired as it encouraged women to reflect on themselves and be empowered in their everyday lives.
“With III, each song is memorable,” he began. “It highlights strength while admitting vulnerability, making the music honest and something to aspire to.”
“Women can be loud, elegant, flashy, dark, or whatever they want to be,” he added. “Banks’ album is empowering in and of itself for the fact that she is a successful artist who is showing off her unique voice,” he added.
Crocker believes that every woman can benefit from listening to the album, whether they’re in a toxic relationship, and need encouragement to get out of it or if they just need a push in their lives.
“I would definitely encourage women to listen to III. It tells a story that I believe most women go through, and it’s told in such a beautiful way,” she said.
Luckily for fans, Banks’ girl power theme didn’t stop at the release of III. The artist has kept the momentum going as she toured across North America and will bring it along to her upcoming European tour. According to MTV, the artist’s confidence and tour presentation are at an all-time high as she has incorporated more dancing into her setlist and more elaborate lighting than ever before. She has also expanded beyond just music and has recently been incorporating original poetry into her show.
And with every live song, Banks aims to capture the energy through her performance. Whether the song is about love, jealousy or heartbreak, the singer gives off different senses of empowerment through her voice and movement on stage.
“There’s a strength to every emotion,” she said. “You could feel a strength in the sadness. You could feel a strength in wanting someone. You could feel a strength in anger. Every song, there’s a different emotion that goes with them, but it’s just about owning what you feel. That makes me feel strong,” she told MTV.