Hayley Kiyoko has been called “Lesbian Jesus.” The former Disney actress and current rising pop star’s success has gained much attention from the press, in part because of her identity. She’s a queer woman of color in an industry that lacks diversity. And, her new album, “Expectations,” is coming out on March 30th—you can’t miss it.   

Throughout her music career, Kiyoko has self–directed stunning, provocative music videos that have significantly increased her popularity as a singer/songwriter. For example, Kiyoko’s 2015 video “Girls Like Girls” tackles the nuances of relationships between young, queer women within the societal confines of heteronormativity. The video features the passionate relationship between two teenage girls, tracking the progression beyond friendship and the violent conflict with the boyfriend of one of the women. It’s a gorgeous, heart–wrenching depiction of the difficulties that come with embracing feelings for someone of the same sex. 

With over 33 million streams on Spotify and critical acclaim from industry experts, “Girls Like Girls” is by far Hayley's most popular song. But Hayley Kiyoko is hardly a one-hit-wonder. She recently came out with some top–notch content, and more is underway. 

As someone who in the past has had trouble coming to terms with her feelings for other women, I understand how painful and confusing it can be. It’s a hard thing to understand without experiencing it yourself. But Hayley Kiyoko’s work does a near–perfect job of capturing the anxiety and suffering that come with this challenging situation. Her songs boil what can be such complex, hurt–filled encounters into well–told stories.     

In anticipation of “Expectations,” Kiyoko released two singles: “Curious” and “Let It Be.” From these two tracks, it instantly becomes clear that Kiyoko’s new album will grapple with the same hard–hitting themes of her previous work. 

Although “Curious” is more upbeat than many of her other songs, its expertly crafted lyrics and beautiful video carry the same weight of hits like “Girls Like Girls.” Again, the video tells a raw, tragic story of a young girl, harboring serious feelings for another woman, while she’s stuck in a relationship stuck in a relationship with a man. The fast pace of the song matches the excitement that comes with new love. Still, it’s juxtaposed by the depiction of the struggles of many queer women.

“Let It Be,” on the other hand, is less explicitly centered around sexuality; instead, it focuses on the pain of heartbreak. Still, it’s charged with unique and resonant lyrics. It’s the perfect song to cry to while binge–eating Ben and Jerry’s in the bathtub.

I also find myself somewhat frustrated by the lack of representation of queer women in pop culture, specifically in cinema and music. While I’ve tried to latch onto recent LGBT cinematic sensations like “Call Me By Your Name” and “Love Simon,” I’m often left wondering where the female equivalents are.  

Simply put, it can be challenging for lesbian and bisexual women to find role models in the media. And it’s crucial that they exist. But Hayley Kiyoko takes a hammer to heteronormativity through her groundbreaking lyrics and compelling music videos. She’s the figure that so many young queer women need.     

But her work is relevant to everyone, regardless of sexuality. Her songs speak to much more than issues of the LGBT community. They touch on dynamic themes like love, youth, and loss. Check out “Expectations” on March 30th—you won’t regret it.    


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