Hayley Kiyoko Continues To Dominate 20GAYTEEN As Pop’s Next Starlet THOUGHTS+PHOTOS: HAYLEY KIYOKO @ THE OBSERVATORY 4/25/18
SANTA ANA, CA – Hayley Kiyoko is taking 2018 (or #20GAYTEEN, as her fans have dubbed) by storm — and for good reason.
On the rise of the release of her highly-anticipated debut album Expectations, Kiyoko has built a legion of fans all across the country as she’s dominating the pop music scene.
Kiyoko has become an icon for many young girls, queer or not, as her songs and music video masterpieces have amassed up to 181 million views on YouTube with 1.2 million subscribers to match. The 27–year-old half-Japanese and “out” singer, dancer, actress and pop star released her first single “Girls Like Girls” in 2015, which went viral for Kiyoko’s honesty and sentiment in displaying the struggle of fighting for who and what you love, regardless of gender. Previously known for her roles in Disney Channel’s “Lemonade Mouth” as well as the now defunct girl group The Stunners, Kiyoko, now with three EPs under her belt and a dreamy pop debut, has solidified herself as a pop starlet. Her influence as the “Lesbian Jesus,” as her fans have lovingly called her, has made her play to sold-out crowds across the nation as fans barely contain themselves at the sight of her undeniable confidence in her identity and infectious pop tunes.
The crowd, mainly consisting of tweens and other adults, came decked out in rainbow attire, ready to wave their flags and hold fan-made signs up in the crowd at the Observatory in Santa Ana, CA.
Kiyoko commanded the stage, one bubbly pop song and hard-hitting melody after another. Dressed in loose cargo army pants, a retro jacket tied around her waist and a bare midriff, Kiyoko showed off her dance moves with confidence as she grooved and swayed with her bandmates, interacting with the crowd through reaching her hand out and getting in their faces as they sang back every lyric. Her bleached blonde locks swayed back and forth as Kiyoko totally owned her pop star status. “It’s always been my dream to play in front of a bunch of pretty girls,” Kiyoko humbly said to the audience. “I feel like that dream is happening right now.”
While openly gay for quite some time, Kiyoko mentioned that that journey hasn’t always been easy. In between songs, she talked about her struggles of fantasizing over girls she felt she couldn’t have in songs like “Sleepover” and encouraged the audience to love themselves enough to walk away from relationships that didn’t work in “Let It Be.” Kiyoko’s body of work is incredibly heartfelt that it’s hard not to fall in love and be a part of the movement she’s created.
Kiyoko has come a long way in such a short period of time, and you can feel the effect of her influence at her live show. As fans threw rainbow flags, leis and yes, even lingerie onto the stage, Kiyoko’s ability to create a safe and unique space for everyone to feel comfortable and to be themselves is what has made her such an icon. And, with infectious synth-pop melodies and a solid body of work, it’s hard not to get a little “Curious” about Kiyoko’s songs on love, identity, desire and lots of “Feelings.”
Hold tight, Kiyoko-ians. You’re quickly taking over the pop world.