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What I Need (feat. Kehlani) is the fourth single and the third track off Hayley Kiyoko's debut album, Expectations. It was released on March 30, 2018 through Atlantic and Empire. It features American singer Kehlani and is praised for featuring two queer women singing about love. Despite not being released as a single at that time, it has peaked at number eight on the Official New Zealand Music Chart.

However, it was later released as a single on May 31, 2018 through Atlantic and Empire.

Background Edit

Rumors that Kehlani and Hayley were working on a song together sparked as early as September 2017[1] when pictures of the two hanging out together surfaced online[2] and were fueled again in December 2017 when more pictures of the two together appeared.[3] The two were also rumored to already have shot a music video as early as December 2017.[4]

Hayley confirmed the collaboration on March 10, 2018 when she unveiled What I Need to be the third track off her album during the "#CountdownToExpectations" that took place on her social media profiles.[5]
During her tumblr Q&A she revealed that this song was written in only four hours and also revealed that Kehlani wrote the hook and Hayley did the verses and the bridge.[6]

"I’m just obsessed with Kehlani. That’s what I’m obsessed with. If I could sing like her… We do sound really lovely together. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is a really nice match.’ We wrote that song in four hours. I’ve been trying to work with her for a year and a half because I’m a hardcore fan. She is one of the first artists to really support me and be like, ‘Yo, you’re dope,’ and that means a lot. It was such a 50/50 collab. It was just so easy and flowed so well."
- Hayley on working with Kehlani[7]
"That song was kind of in the same time during the ‘Curious’ situation. [It’s the] same girl! I was really frustrated, because it was like, ‘You need to know what you’re doing, please stop involving me in these games. You need to love yourself and know who you are before involving me in this situation. I can’t teach you how to love yourself.’"
- Hayley on whether or not the track is connected to other songs[8]

Lyrics Edit

[Verse 1: Kehlani]
All the back and forth getting complicated
Running me around got me frustrated, no
That's why I been laying low
If you wanna make it work, baby, gotta say it
Need a little more than participation
Or, I could go be on my own

[Pre-Chorus: Hayley Kiyoko]
Sure I would kiss you, I'll lay with you
You're broke, no, I can't fix you
I won't, no, I won't diss you
But babe, yeah, I might miss you
If you're cold and needed shelter
I'd hold you, but not sweat ya
And know we're not together
But babe, I won't forget ya

[Chorus: Kehlani & Hayley Kiyoko]
What I need, what I need, what I need
Is for you to be sure, no no no
For you to be sure, no no no
For you to be sure, no no no
What I need, what I need, what I need
Is to tell me that it's yours, no no no
And who you do it for, no no no
Need you to be sure, no no no, no no
Need you to be sure
Need you to be sure

[Verse 2: Hayley Kiyoko]
When we're all alone, girl, you wanna own it
When we're with your fam, you don't wanna show it
Oh, you try to keep us on the low
I only want a girl who ain't afraid to love me
Not a metaphor of what we really could be
Oh, I ain't putting on a show

[Pre-Chorus: Hayley Kiyoko]
Sure I would kiss you, I'll lay with you
You're broke, no, I can't fix you
I won't, no, I won't diss you
But babe, yeah, I might miss you
If you're cold and needed shelter
I'd hold you, but not sweat ya
And know we're not together
But babe, I won't forget ya

[Chorus: Kehlani & Hayley Kiyoko]
What I need, what I need, what I need
Is for you to be sure, no no no
For you to be sure, no no no
For you to be sure, no no no
What I need, what I need, what I need
Is to tell me that it's yours, no no no
And who you do it for, no no no
Need you to be sure, no no no, no no
Need you to be sure
Need you to be sure
Need you to be sure
Need you to be sure

[Bridge: Kehlani & Hayley Kiyoko]
We could be bigger and brighter than space
Ain't no running away
No, real loving is sure
The way that I love, there's no taking my place
Staring you right in your face
No, don't look away no more

[Pre-Chorus: Kehlani & Hayley Kiyoko]
I would kiss you, I'll lay with you
You're broke, no, I can't fix you
I won't, no, I won't diss you
But babe, yeah, I might miss you
If you're cold and needed shelter
I'd hold you, but not sweat ya
And know we're not together
But babe, I won't forget ya

[Chorus: Kehlani & Hayley Kiyoko]
What I need, what I need, what I need
Is for you to be sure, no no no
For you to be sure, no no no
For you to be sure, no no no
What I need, what I need, what I need
Is to tell me that it's yours, no no no
And who you do it for, no no no
Need you to be sure, no no no, no no
Need you to be sure
Need you to be sure
Need you to be sure
Need you to be sure

Critical Reception Edit

Music VideoEdit

CastEdit

  • Hayley Kiyoko as herself
  • Kehlani as herself
  • Sian Vilaire as Kehlani's aunt
  • Tim Mikulecky as Truck Driver

Trivia Edit

  • This song marks Kiyoko's very first studio collaboration.
    • Moreover, this is the only song on Expectations to feature another singer.
  • This song is about the same girl that also inspired Curious and He'll Never Love You (HNLY). Thus linking the three tracks together.[9]
  • All the speaking parts in the music video were improvised, the only things scripted were the scenes. Hayley, Kehlani and the other cast naturally improvised all the movements.[10]
    • Originally, Kehlani's aunt was yelling in Spanish and Kehlani replied why it would always be a novela with her to which her aunt replied that she did not even know what a novela was. However, that part did not make the cut.[11]
  • Kehlani and Hayley performed this song for the first time live at San Francisco Pride on June 24, 2018.[12]

ReferencesEdit

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