Surpassed my ‘Expectations’

Haley Kiyoko's album displays new side of mainstream pop music

Photo+from+Billboard.com

Photo from Billboard.com

Story by Victoria Van, entertainment editor

From her humble beginnings as a Disney star, to topping the Billboard charts, Hayley Kiyoko proves that the power of dedication can manifest success. Her debut album, “Expectations” was released on March 30 — racking up favorable reviews from Teen Vogue and GQ. Representing a side of pop that her teenage audience flocks to, she stands as a queer icon that’s been lacking in the media — fully encircling her pivotal role in the music industry in 2018 and beyond.

Kiyoko advises to listen to the whole album in numerical order to fully gain the experience and emotions that she is trying to convey in her lyrics. And that’s exactly what I did.

To start, the lively guitar and whispered lyrics set the tone for the first song, “Feelings,” that encompass an essential almost-angsty bop that relate to her listeners. The lyrics “I over-communicate and feel too much, I just complicate it when I say too much” illustrate the beginning of a relationship when you’re afraid of oversharing and burdening the other person. In the bridge, the lyrics “I’m hooked on all these feelings” show the increasing desire to be with the other person as all of the “feelings” are being tossed and turned in Kiyoko’s mind which resonate with people who easily fall in love.

In “What I Need,” collaborating pop artist Kehlani’s intro to the song captivates any listener with her first verse that immediately commands attention. The lyrics “I only want a girl who ain’t afraid to love me, Not a metaphor of what we really could be” display how Kiyoko is now becoming more self-confident and creates her own expectations in a partner that consists of loyalty and not just fantasies. This song is hands down my favorite due to the seamless blend between Kehlani and Kiyoko’s melodies and enjoyable beat.

“Under the Blue/Take Me In” is arguable my least favorite song from the album even though it illustrates that Kiyoko can mellow down her sound and enchant listeners. Overall, the mood that the song sets is less upbeat and more calm yet unearths a shadow of pop that isn’t normally what musicians offer in the industry today. It’s definitely showing another side of Kiyoko that’s respected as she’s aiming to spread the word that not conforming to the standard of being a pop artist can be challenged in every way possible.

Not conforming to the standard of being a pop artist can be challenged in every way possible.”

— Victoria Van

“Curious” definitely deserves its popularity since the release of the music video in January which has garnered over eight million views. At this stage, Kiyoko fully develops her message about being an independent woman. Kiyoko recognizes this and knows the late night texts she receives are only mind games. Now, Kiyoko is confident in how to handle the situation and is ready to move on.

Lastly, the final “Let it Be” evolves her self-discovery and strength as this anthem speaks volumes about a heart-wrenching breakup. The lyrics, “‘Cause I believe we’re the ones who had it all, I believe we just had to learn to fall” is talking about how her relationship was flourishing with its endless fantasy until the naive mirage was shattered by their emotions. Ultimately, this song ends the album through the cycle of a shy crush, a new relationship down to a tumultuous emotional rollercoaster that fully encircles her journey as a person and a rising musician.

Her tracks that resonate with her wide ranging teenage audience and effortless transitions between each song unify the brand that’s she’s establishing. Hayley Kiyoko is the “Lesbian Jesus” that many queer audiences praise as an iconic symbol in the mainstream pop wave that keeps going with the currents.