Monday, June 18th, 2018

Hayley Kiyoko ft. Kehlani – What I Need

They’re good, and they’re good together…


Alex Clifton: Hayley Kiyoko’s always been hit-or-miss for me. When she’s on, she writes some of the most glorious pop music I’ve ever heard; in other modes, it just doesn’t click with me. Expectations overall was a little uneven, but “What I Need” is by far the best song off the album. Kehlani and Hayley are beautifully matched and I love the way they trade off with one another — it’s less of a “feature” (i.e. one verse and done) and more of a duet. The chorus is so vibrant and pulses with desire — “what I need, what I need, what I need” comes out as a rush after a fairly high-octane start and it only gets better from there. I’m so glad we’re getting more music from queer women, and I only hope this song stays in rotation all summer long.

Alfred Soto: This can’t help but code queer, thanks to Kehlani’s preternatural avidity and Hayley Kiyoko’s insouciance. The hand claps and synth bass incarnate the way “What I Need” goes from yin to yang: where it stops no one knows.

Will Rivitz: Like literally every other Hayley Kiyoko single released after This Side of Paradise, this song is extremely adept at just kinda being there. For an artist whose cultural clout is undeniable (not many can claim the moniker “Lesbian Jesus” before they’ve dropped a full album), her music never ceases to be a bit disappointing — Citrine and Expectations are good but forgettable — and “What I Need” is more of the same. It’s the best forgettable music I’ve heard, to be sure, but that only gets you so far. 

Will Adams: Like “Curious,” a welcome instance of representation in bubblegum pop. Unlike “Curious,” a hookless exercise that’s been swallowed by reverb.

Josh Love: Kehlani steals this song entirely before Kiyoko even has a chance to open her mouth, and the nominal lead artist’s sluggish, slurry verses only leach momentum from the bright chorus bouncing along on springing synths.

Nortey Dowuona: Pulpy, lurching bass and rising, racing synths lift Kehlani. She effortlessly coasts over it and Hayley stands at the wave machine, carefully switching knobs and cranking the water lever as the wave stays steady, slowly but steadily rising, until Kehlani is silhouetted by the sun.

Reader average: [7] (3 votes)

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