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Mercy/Gatekeeper is the fifth track off Hayley Kiyoko's debut album, Expectations. It was released on March 30, 2018 through Atlantic and Empire.

Background Edit

The song was announced on March 13, 2018 as part of the "#CountdownToExpectations" and was subsequently confirmed to be the fifth track off the album.[1]

Mercy/Gatekeeper is the only song on Expectations where the lyrics came first. It’s a poem that came from Kiyoko's journal[2] word for word at 4 AM. She described herself to be in a "bad place mentally trying to find the light" at that time. The song is supposed to help listeners through and remind them to keep moving forward, no matter how dark it gets.[3] Hayley suffered a fall and a concussion on her 25th birthday and was subsequently diagnosed with Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS).[4] Mercy/Gatekeeper is a track about her experience of healing, both with the effects of concussion and depression.

"That song tackles depression that I had never experienced before. I have post-concussion syndrome. I hit my head two years ago, and it was a life-altering experience for me. And so from the beginning of the song, you hear on this person feeling hopeless and helpless and not being able to see and then, by the end, finding that light. And even though they haven’t gotten through the depression, and they don’t know where they’re going, they’re still moving forward."
- Hayley Kiyoko to NPR[5]

Hayley wrote this song while she was staying in the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel.[6]

"When I was going through my concussion, I was journaling a lot, which was something I had never really done before [...] It was so therapeutic. This is the only song I’ve ever done where I wrote the lyrics first. I was in New York City. I couldn’t sleep, because I was in so much pain. It was 4am, and I was staring out the window. The lyrics for ‘Mercy’ are verbatim from that. I go into spoken word on ‘Gatekeeper’, which was another poem I wrote in extreme pain. This chronicles that time. It’s very special to me."
- Kiyoko

Lyrics Edit

Part 1: Mercy
[Verse 1]
When the city sleeps, I'm awake
Caught up in the dreams I can't create
When the city sleeps, I'm awake
Locked up in my mind, I can't escape
There's nothing I can do but wait
I call you crying 'cause it's too much pain
I can tell you don't get it
'Cause you tell me that everything will be okay

[Bridge]
All I wanna do is cry
That's all I wanna do
All I wanna do is cry
And bang my head
Until I start to fly
Bang, bang, I start to fly
Bang, bang, I start to fly

[Verse 2]
Maybe, I'll just dye my hair
To make me feel like I don't care
It'll be my war paint
'Cause Lord knows I need the strength, I need the strength
Mondays might be alright
And Sundays will probably hurt
'Cause when your mouth starts moving with the noise
I don't hear a single word

[Bridge]
All I wanna do is cry
That's all I wanna do
All I wanna do is cry
And bang my head
Until I start to fly
Bang, bang, I start to fly
Bang, bang, I start to fly
I watch the sky get brighter
The lights get higher now

[Chorus]
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Hurting, hurting



Part 2: Gatekeeper
[Verse 1]
Stuck in the traffic that's racing in my mind
Blankets of wool just to cover up my eyes
'Cause what I need, what I need is quiet
And I know what I need, what I need is hiding
I'm just a face someone's passing on the street
Paint on a smile so that no one ever sees
'Cause what I need, what I need is quiet
And I know what I need, what I need is hiding

[Bridge]
Talk to me, keep on, talk to me
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Talk to me, keep on, talk to me
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh

[Interlude]
It's easier for me to stay quiet, not speak a word
For if I do, then the truth might emerge
They are my emotions to feel
Nobody can poison my feelings if they're never revealed
I'll watch others live in loudness and I'll destroy the chaos in my way
I have the control
If I keep what's mine, I can have the purest soul
And live with content, free from fear
I choose my actions
I am the gatekeeper

[Chorus]
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Just give me mercy 'cause I keep hurting, hurting
Hurting, hurting

[Outro]
Don't let me die
With my soul in the air
Don't let me die
When there's nobody here

Trivia Edit

  • With a length of 5:44 it's the longest track featured on Expectations.

References Edit

Expectations
March 30, 2018 • 48:37 • Atlantic • Empire
Songs
Released CuriousExpectations (Overture)FeelingsHe'll Never Love You (HNLY)Let It BeMercy/GatekeeperMoleculesPalm DreamsSleepoverUnder the Blue/Take Me InWanna Be MissedWhat I Needxx
Unreleased Blame JoyCurious (Acoustic)
Artists
Hayley KiyokoKehlani
Tour
Expectations Tour