A peek at NIKI at her most vulnerable and authentic
Good songs will always find their way to you even if you missed them the first time around. Luckily, almost a year after its original release, NIKI posted the official music video for ‘Backburner’ from her second studio album ‘Nicole’. She has referred to the track as her “not so secret favorite from the record” in the live version of the song from the ‘Live at the Wiltern album’.
In this edition of the Listening Party, we take a look at ‘Backburner’, examining both its lyrics and the music in its totality. We are here to make the most out of this second opportunity to appreciate a track that was given another life.
Lyrically. ‘Backburner’ talks about looking back fondly at a past relationship; conflicted yet open to the prospect of getting back together.
I can’t lie, it feels nice that you’re calling
You sound sad and alone, and you’re stalling
And for once, I don’t care about what you want
As long as we keep talking (As long as we’re talking)
I mean, you gotta admit the history’s kind of unmatched
She understands that she shouldn’t be feeling this way but she just can’t help it, letting her emotions take control.
The Goo Goo Dolls are dead to me
The way you should bе, too
But you bring them up
Along with how much I fucking miss you
But there is a sense of self-pity in the track. The word backburner refers to placing a certain matter at a lower priority level to make room for much more pressing concerns. Within the context of relationships, this could simply mean keeping someone as an option without necessarily being committed to them. NIKI in the song understands her position and knows that she deserves better, and yet she consciously chooses to remain on his “backburner”.
Maybe I’m just not bettеr than this, I haven’t tried
Maybe life’s less romantic when I don’t wanna die
You’d think I’d be a fast learner
But guess I won’t ever mind crisping up on your backburner
Musically. The track is very simple. The instrumental mainly consists of a few components that play throughout the song’s duration. The only source of variation comes from the strings that are introduced at one point during the second verse. Little by little, the added strings swell and continue to rise as the track continues, slowly but surely adding energy, intensity, and emotion to the project.
And yet, the instrumental never takes the spotlight away from the vocals, the main focus of the song. However, that being said, NIKI doesn’t really do much with her vocal performance—I’d even say that it was monotonous. But it works, I guess that was the point.
‘Backburner’ is emotional, nostalgic, and retrospective, and it invites listeners to wallow in their memories and emotions. It doesn’t take an overly-produced track to pull off. Well-thought-out lyrics, the right supporting instrumentation, and a genuine vocal performance will suffice.
NIKI is set to perform in Manila for the ‘Nicole World Tour’ at the Mall of Asia Arena on September 13, 2023.
Lyrics courtesy of Genius