Hayley Kiyoko (or “lesbian Jesus,” as her fans have deemed her) delivered her debut album Expectations today (Mar. 30). The record solidifies Kiyoko as one of the few modern artists who is able to unapologetically capture the queer female experience through pop music.
The production ranges from radio-ready, synth-heavy on tracks like “Curious” and “He’ll Never Love You (HNLY)” to more atmospheric numbers like “Molecules” and “Mercy / Gatekeeper.” While the album is a triumph from start to finish, the clear standout is the Kehlani-assisted “What I Need.” Like Halsey and Lauren Jauregui’s 2017 team-up “Strangers,” the track benefits from having two strong, queer women trading verses about love.
“What I Need” tells a story that’s all-too-familiar for LGBTQ people: Kiyoko and Kehlani trade verses about needing their partner to fully embrace their sexuality rather than play games. On the hook, Kehlani sings, “What I need, what I need, what I need/ Is for you to be sure,” while Kiyoko shows her frustration in lyrics like “When we’re all alone, girl, you wanna own it/ When we’re with the fam, you don’t wanna show it.”
Expectations is full of brilliant wordplay, tailor-made for IG captions (followed, of course, by “#20gayteen”). To celebrate the album, Billboard Pride gathered the five most explicitly queer lyrics.
1. “What I Need” (featuring Kehlani)
“I only want a girl who ain’t afraid to love me/ Not a metaphor of what we really could be.”
Love is scary — and it can be even scarier if you’re not quite comfortable with your sexuality. Kiyoko is asking her love interest to take that chance and leave fear behind.
“Calling me up, so late at night/ Are we just friends?/ You say you wanted me, but you’re sleeping with him.”
Several of the tracks on Expectations deal with a love interest who is either bisexual or not fully comfortable with their sexuality. On this single, Kiyoko cheekily nods to bi-curiosity.
“You wanna be friends forever? I can think of something better.”
We’ve all been there; you have a best friend and you get along perfectly, but they’re straight. Womp.
4. “He’ll Never Love You (HNLY)”
“You say that no one will understand/ You wish you could, but you just can’t so/ How many days, how many nights/ Til you realize he’ll never love you like me.”
5. “Under The Blue / Take Me In”
“Waves come crashing on in/ But I’m feeling the rapture cool on my skin/ Take me under the blue.”
While the lyrics are less overt, the Sapphic subtext is strong on this sexy track.