“I don’t know man, maybe I should get like, a grown-up job, a real job, A BETTER JOB!” Within the first few opening seconds of her new single, the unrelenting, firecracker visionary YNES makes her views clear on Rishi Sunak’s ludicrous suggestion that musicians and other people in the arts sector should “retrain and find other jobs”. And by God, if you weren’t convinced of the ridiculousness of this comment before, you undoubtedly will be after listening to this powerhouse of a protest record. Better Job may well be one of my favourite singles of the year, and we’re only in February.
Why does it pack such a resonant punch and make such an impact on the listener? I should say firstly, that it’s certainly a sentiment shared by countless other creatives who work hard to create content enjoyed and consumed by those criticising them for not having so-called ‘practical’ careers. As a writer, I completely empathise with YNES’ anger. To be denied of the only thing I have personally ever felt I was talented at/had a real motivation to work diligently at for others’ enjoyment, Sunak’s savage condemning of my craft was a kick in the teeth. And what a committed creative YNES is. She has been for many years been working hard at her craft, constantly evolving, spanning every genre from indie-dreamy pop to punk, and gradually garnering up quite the following of her illustrious career. I myself have followed YNES on social media for years now, initially interested by her cool chameleon looks. Even her dress sense oozes individuality and artistry – she looks like a rockstar. She has the voice and the lyrical talent; taking heavy inspiration from artists like Kate Nash, her social commentary is biting and endlessly intelligent. But I think what I most enjoyed about seeing her content, and why I ached to review her new single, was her incredible confidence. She is above all a deeply strong woman, and one I deeply admire; she is one of the most open and honest artists I have ever come across. She is unfazed by negativity, and instead brazenly looks it in the eye and tells it to f**k off. This is why I completely have faith in her lyrics. You can tell how much she cares about the records that she makes, how much passion she has for the words she screams. YNES is no plastic-punk. She’s 100% the real deal, in her ideals and her fierce feminist rhetoric intrinsic to the single.
Better Job has been a long-anticipated release. After Sunak’s comments, YNES uploaded a 30 second jingle to social media titled Better Jobs. A direct response to Rishi, YNES states quite clearly that “she’d rather die than have a better job” – to be pigeonholed into what the government deem as ‘respectable’ jobs at the detriment of losing her creative spark would be an existence YNES can’t picture herself existing in! The skit gained a lot of traction – a tasty 8k views and an interview on BBC – and it inspired her to write a full song from the foundations of the video. “Having witnessed the subsequent lack of support for the industry regarding Brexit, and just everything else at the moment – I decided to spend Lockdown 3 writing and recording a full track from home,” YNES explained in her correspondence with me. “I know so many people who are feeling dejected and hopeless at the future of the arts, and I really believe that we need to stay passionate – together. I really feel as though the song will resonate with people.” And resonate it has. The song stands up for all of the creative voices that the government encouragement of retraining has stifled. It’s a song that inspires a real sense of unity, a real sense of US VS THEM. It’s a cathartic expression of her own frustration as well as trying to make it clear that our spirits shouldn’t be crushed by the dismissal of our talents. It’s a sentiment I’m behind, I can tell you.
The song also celebrates the beauty of individuality and not succumbing to the cookie-cutter shapes society tries to mold us as workers into, which YNES herself is an emblem of. I think I would describe her as A New Romantic Britpunk Babe, a general glittery delight of a human, or probably just as Annie Lennox’s (possibly) biological daughter. Perhaps an amalgamation of the three. She asks playfully to be taught how to be a “morally upstanding member of society“, which her ethereal alien appearance and non-acceptance of bullsh*t doesn’t quite fit into (dictionary-definition wise, at least). And, nor should it. She offers that maybe she could “wear a tie” – but because she’s a woman, it’ll “have to be a miniskirt“, referencing the misogynistic way women are treated in the workplace as well as a cutting comment on how androgyny is shunned. Gender conformity is a more easy way to be squeezed into the mold of ‘acceptable member of society.’ But that’s just the thing, isn’t it? What is our motivation to play by societal rules, what is our reward? I think I’d much rather be happy in my skin and dye my hair funky colours and be gloriously and unabashedly me than to lose my soul to corporate means. Sparks of light and talent and joy shine through the cracks in this hollow work-obsessed society we inhabit. Sure, most of us “can’t afford to be the next Rolling Stones or Bowie” and have to work jobs on the side. It’s like YNES herself states, “radioplay doesn’t pay these days!” But the difficult trials and tribulations that come with being an artist and keeping the flame lit of our creative endeavours is worth it. And it ironically has entertained and kept sane the very same people that are critical of the industry. So, Rishi, if you want us to retrain, “we’ll all get better jobs – but you can throw away your DVDs, you can unsubscribe from Netflix, and delete your music library” – because without the wonderful artists like YNES of the world, there would be no art to escape into.
YNES’ vivacious vocals and unrelenting guitar riffs make for a DIY dream of a punk record. It is a true testament to the talent of YNES, and I truly wish her nothing but success in her career. I’m excited to see her bloom even more, and I hope to hear records from her similar to this in the future – it’s very unique from anything she’s ever produced, really, and I for one am digging it. Keep being fabulous YNES, and please, please don’t ever get a better job!