Expectations by Hayley Kiyoko Album Review

Updated: Aug 3, 2018

One of my favorite musicians at the moment, Hayley Kiyoko, has solidified her place in my heart and in all my Spotify playlists with her debut album, “Expectations.” Since I already love this album so much, here’s a song-by-song review of this record:


Expectations/Overture - Just the first few seconds of this small instrumental piece leave listeners curious about the rest of the album. It carries a bittersweet tone with some higher twinkling notes to leave a lingering feeling of excitement for the music to come.

Feelings - “Feelings” establishes a more edgy, deeper sound to start this album. Kiyoko demonstrates her amazing ability to craft a pop song with the wonderful combination of an interesting beat and casually catchy lyrics to describe the euphoria of a romantic relationship.

What I need (feat. Kehlani) - First of all, I LOVE KEHLANI. In all caps, yes, because I really love her that much. To see two of my queens collaborating is an absolute dream and the song is truly extraordinary. Both of these pop song geniuses come together vocally in an irresistible beat that’s guaranteed to make people move while singing about the potential of a relationship. The whole song shows what happens when two women well versed in the world of producing pop music come together to create something lyrically and musically brilliant.

Sleepover - “Sleepover” slows down the overall feel of “Expectations” with its soft vocals and more acoustically grounded sound. The listener is exposed to a more vulnerable side of Kiyoko as she sings of pining over someone she can’t have while they lay side-by-side at a sleepover. This song will hit home for anyone who’s ever experienced unrequited love, especially for a friend. It conveys a powerful, relatable message with subtle grace and depth through simplistic lyrics and background music.

Mercy/Gatekeeper - This song reveals the wide range of ways Kiyoko uses electronic production for her own creative purposes. It makes me think of driving through a city late at night with the windows up, hearing the sounds from the outside in a strange muted fashion, just like certain aspects of this song. The water-droplet-sounding beat foundation makes for a unique sound and sets it apart from other songs on this album. When this track switches over to the “Gatekeeper” portion, the original beat is dropped and it picks up more energy and a blurry monologue, shrouding the “Mercy/Gatekeeper” in a cloud of mystery.

Under the blue/Take Me In - “Under the blue/Take Me In” is the ultimate summer tune. It reflects the cool calm of a swimming pool with mystical lyrics to match the carefree vibe. The unexpected energy of this song hits the listener with a burst of musical vivacity that reminds me of fireworks during the Fourth of July.

Curious - FAVORITE SONG ALERT. I absolutely adore this track. With its infectious, clever lyrics and bopping beat, it has everything you could ever want from a pop song. This is Hayley Kiyoko at her best in this album. Fierce and unapologetic, she digs at the juicy feelings of wanting that lie under a break-up. If you turn on this song, I guarantee people, especially Hayley Kiyoko fans like me, will start dancing.

xx - A 52 second, simple electronic beat dominated track, “xx” provides a great transition into the next song, “Wanna Be Missed.”

Wanna Be Missed - This song carries a very strong, steady beat with more gentle vocals to convey the vulnerability that comes with being lonely. With subtly powerful singing and meaningful lyrics, Kiyoko manages to wrap the audience in her mind when she’s wanting to be loved.

He’ll Never Love You (HNLY) - After listening to this song once, I already know it’s easily going to become one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s catchy chorus and dance-worthy verses go along perfectly with Kiyoko’s story of a potential love interest missing out on romantic opportunities because she’s still with her boyfriend. I absolutely love the energy and overall feel of this song; it’s Kiyoko at her most fierce and confident.

Palm Dreams - “Palm Dreams” will go along with any of your summer driving playlists. It’s sunny, carefree vibe allows for an extremely blissful listening experience. It’s driving beat lays the road for Kiyoko’s smooth vocals to create an image of a perfect, perhaps cliché, summer experience under some palm trees in California.

Molecules - Kiyoko shows off her ability to match impressive electronic accompaniment with deeper lyrics. This songs also allows for some slower, more instrument-based music to peak through the technology-produced sounds at some points, which shakes things up again.

Let It Be - “Expectations” comes to a calmer, slow close with “Let It Be.” It carries the smoothness, steadiness, and power of waves crashing against a shore. With more precise lyrics and very well put together background music, this song manages to say a lot with a little.

Written and Edited by: Tatum Jenkins

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