Music, Pop Culture

Hayley Kiyoko is the pop star of my dreams, and I love watching her shine

There's no way to straight-code Hayley Kiyoko's work. Her music is unapologetically queer.

Pop star Hayley Kiyoko exploded onto the queer music scene in 2015, when the video for her second single off This Side of Paradise EP, “Girls Like Girls,” went viral. Since then, she’s produced hit after hit all about her fascination with women, and honestly?

Same, girl. Thank you for this incredible, important work.

In 2018 (20GAYTEEN if you will), Kiyoko plans to release her debut LP, Expectations.

On Thursday, she released the self-directed music video for a new single from Expectations, “Curious.” It’s definitely NSFW, but it’s also unapologetically queer from start to finish, and the female gaze is refreshing and appreciated.

This video is incredible. I’ve watched it a dozen times already. Every time Kiyoko releases a new single, it’s accompanied by a super steamy video featuring her getting extra intimate with other women.

Obviously, Kiyoko isn’t the first queer woman in music, but she’s one of the first openly lesbian women of color to push her attraction to women to the forefront of her career and aesthetic, i.e. framing her entire body of work around her queerness.

There’s no way to straight-code Hayley Kiyoko’s work. She makes sure of that in her songwriting, her performances, and her music videos.

[bctt tweet=”There’s no way to straight-code Hayley Kiyoko’s work.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Kiyoko features women from various ethnicities in her videos, as well as women with visible stretch marks and other “imperfections”—which is awesome because the way lesbian women are usually packaged for the public is very much focused on male pleasure. That means blonde hair, blue eyes, impractically long acrylic nails, and exclusively femme-on-femme content—all of which exist in the lesbian experience but aren’t the only lesbian experience.

We need more queer women, like Kiyoko, to be encouraged to take charge of their own work. The difference is stark, and hella empowering.

It’s also refreshing to see an openly lesbian woman—especially a woman of color—involved in ad campaigns and doing interviews on TRL. Watching Kiyoko rise through the ranks has been a genuine pleasure, both as a fan of pop music and as someone who would have loved to see more openly queer women in the music scene when I was just a baby lesbian trying to figure things out.

[bctt tweet=”‘Curious’ is definitely NSFW, but it’s also unapologetically queer from start to finish.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Beyond the aesthetics, the content of Kiyoko’s music is also important for young queer women. She dives into topics often explored in heteronormative love songs, from crushing on a friend to wondering whether an old flame misses you, too.

Not having to change the pronouns in a popular song to make it apply to your crush is an amazing feeling—I can attest to that from years of listening to artists like Tegan and Sara and sighing in relief when I didn’t have to think “if only this song was about a woman…”

[bctt tweet=”We need more queer women, like Kiyoko, to be encouraged to take charge.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Since the “Curious” music video premiered, it’s already gotten more than 1 million views on YouTube; Kiyoko’s last video, for the single “Feelings,” has over 6 million in just two months. Expectations is slated to hit stores on March 30, and the album cover features Kiyoko staring in admiration at a naked woman whose back is to the camera. “Women are a constant inspiration to me and I want to translate that love and appreciation into physical art, through all my music and imagery,” Kiyoko said in an Instagram post.

I’m here for it. I absolutely cannot wait for Expectations to drop, so I can listen exclusively to it for the rest of the year.

I’ve already got “Curious” on repeat on Spotify. Who’s with me?