Friday Feature: Hayley Kiyoko

Image credit: Trevor Flores

Former Disney star Hayley Kiyoko’s Citrine EP is a refreshing look at love and self-acceptance away from the male gaze and into something that is purely her own. In an interview with Teen Vogue, the singer commented that the days leading up to her latest release felt like being ready for the prom several hours too early. “I want [listeners] to feel empowered,” Kiyoko said. “I want them to lose their self-doubt and kind of walk with a little swagger in their step.”

Citrine is in a similar thematic vein to her older work, but Kiyoko brings it into focus: she explicitly sings to a “she” throughout the EP, and there’s a lingering theme of self-assurance and confidence throughout the release. Each song on the offering blends into the next seamlessly, painting an image that fans have come to refer to as “soft sapphos.” Sugary-sweet, the singer is already being compared to Astralwerks’ dark horse and alt-pop artist Halsey. Though her brand of pop is less personal, it’s just as cinematic.

Perhaps the boldest track on the release, “One Bad Night” is less coy than previous tracks. “You make me feel like I wanna be bad,” she sings with a smirk. There’s a directness about attraction that builds amidst the thrumming, one that departs from the ambiguity of “you haunt me,” in “Ease My Mind” and “I want to show you the shape I’m in,” in “Pretty Girl”. “Bad Night” is high-energy, driving, and there’s something in it that feels like a late summer night.

Though the experiences that created the release may not be universally felt, each track is laden with the promise of possibility and celebration, no matter what’s on the other side.

Watch the video for “One Bad Night” below.
Trigger warning: Depictions of street harassment and violence against a trans woman.

 

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Author: Carina Browder

Carina is an Atlanta-based pop culture and music writer.

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