Friday, August 16th, 2019

Hayley Kiyoko – I Wish

Hayley… Skee-Loko?


[Video][Website]
[5.30]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: I wish, I wish, I wish it didn’t sound like she was singing against the beat, and I wish, I wish, I wish her voice wasn’t mixed like she was singing through a funnel. 
[3]

Tim de Reuse: Kiyoko’s delivery is crisp, and her lyrics are uncomplicated (there’s something satisfying about the directness of “you shut down when I tell you all the shit I want”). But all the interesting details get lost between a bunch of sonic elements that compete for attention: the rhythm section so aggressively off-kilter, the hook so syrupy-sweet, the mix sunk in a swamp of lush reverb.
[5]

Alex Clifton: The maddening thing about Hayley Kiyoko’s music is that her choruses are consistently fabulous but her verses awkwardly written. “Curious” had one of my favourite moments in pop last year–if you let, if you let, if you let him touchyatouchyatouchyatouchyatouchya as the beginning of a breathless chorus — but its opening line was comparatively weak (“I need a drink, whiskey ain’t my thing, but shit is all good” — come on, Hayley, you can do better). The verses of “I Wish” sound decent but are awkwardly phrased: “it’s a storm in my iris ’cause you lied” makes sense on a feelings-level but is nonetheless convoluted. It’s such a shame because the chorus here is another winner. “I wish, I wish, I wish” keeps building through the song, really amping up the desire to find love and the enormous disappointment of not having found it yet. I just wish I liked this more.
[5]

Vikram Joseph: I really like how coolly restrained this sounds; that moody, minor-key low-end synth pulsing through the verses, Kiyoko’s vocals falling over the beat on “you’re selfish with your affection”, the way that the chorus refuses to take off in the way that convention would demand. I just wish that, at 28 years old, she could find some more nuanced, adult ways to express things — “You don’t like that I do what I want, like, all the time,” would be embarrassing coming from Ava Max, and the chorus (“I wish, I wish, I wish I found love”) feels like a reductive afterthought. The production’s great though, especially on the bridge where her words coalesce into an impressionistic blur — for the best, maybe.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Except for a couple of demotic emphases in the verses, I hear little of Hayley Kiyoko’s confidence on this mid tempo number reliant on bass noise and mixing board manipulations. I wish indeed.
[4]

Ian Mathers: The verses continue to be Kiyoko’s weak point (she just isn’t that compelling a singer in the register/phrasing she uses there), but the chorus here really lifts off and makes at least part of “I Wish” worth revisiting.
[6]

Will Rivitz: Moodiness has always suited Kiyoko best. Her music consistently reaches its highest peaks when she’s jealous or disappointed; it’s a shame that she’s best known for songs of triumph and ecstasy. “I Wish” captures that moodiness not just lyrically but sonically — the latter of which she hasn’t always been able to do even at her cattiest delivery — and ends up one of her best singles to date. Who said Soulection was boring?
[7]

Michael Hong: Hayley Kiyoko’s most interesting work has some sort of bite to it. It’s aggressive, it’s in your face, it’s an over-stuffed taunt, but most importantly, it puts Kiyoko as an active individual. What it’s not is this passive dirge, where Kiyoko sings verses that seem to be awkwardly strung together over a beat that limply staggers along. It’s a pity, because she at least nails the despair needed to convey the phrase “I wish” over the chorus of the track.
[3]

Kayla Beardslee: Flattening the dynamics on a pop song is a risky move: when you’re working in a genre that lives and dies by the chorus, making your chorus so low-key that it’s barely distinguishable from the verses is an unusual, interesting choice. It marks a departure from Kiyoko’s past work and perhaps hints at an artistic evolution in–yeah, no, I don’t like it. Sax blurts do not a chorus make. Kiyoko and her two producers are credited as writers, but the instrumental and vocals don’t seem to understand that the melancholy lyrics need actual musical support to be believable. There’s little of note in the production: some drums, a sax, a few plain background synths, and… that’s it? For the most part, the music just coasts by blandly, never exploding into a cathartic chorus (the final one gets the closest) or invoking any emotional response at all (the bridge tries by getting louder, but the slurred lyrics are a big misstep). Kiyoko’s casual singing style is consistent with her other songs (ex. “Feelings“), but on this track, it just sounds like the producers stopped recording after her first take. She’s singing about heartbreak and loneliness, yet she doesn’t seem serious about it. “We butt heads,” “So I wild out too, motherfucker, what’s up?”: these lines in particular stand out as clunky, uninspired, and distractingly cavalier, and they’re not helped by the offbeat nature of her delivery. To be fair, I did misspeak when I said the production only had three major elements, since there’s also an echoey filter on Kiyoko’s voice in the chorus and bridge. If you can’t wring emotion out of her performance, I suppose you might as well try to fake it.
[4]

Nortey Dowuona: One of the most popular tropes in pop music is love, especially the desiring of it, especially after years of never having it at all. Since I was 13, I’ve never been in love with anyone. I’ve never been in a position where I believed there was a chance for me to find it. Apathy can silence wishes quicker than outright thwarting. So when I finished listening to “I Wish”, I expected to have another of those false breakthroughs I had listening to music in the past. Instead I closed the video and started typing this. I can’t even hope for a wish anymore.
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One Response to “Hayley Kiyoko – I Wish”

  1. I wish, I wish, I wish this was a more compelling song.

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