In an article about her song Have Mercy, a photo of Chloe Bailey

Chlöe’s ‘Have Mercy’ Finds the Young Singer Coming Into Her Own

Her new hit solo single, which evokes the R&B sounds of the '90s, shows off the singer's prowess both as an artist and as an entertainer.
September 24, 2021
5 mins read

Chloe Bailey, previously a member of the sisterly duo Chloe x Halle, has finally launched her solo career — and what a launch it was. The Bailey sisters skyrocketed to fame in 2015, when Beyoncé saw their cover of “Pretty Hurts” and took them under her wing. Two studio albums later, the sisters are now embarking on their own adventures. Chloe Bailey, who goes by Chlöe, decided that her adventure would be musical. The artist dropped the full music video for her song “Have Mercy” on Sept. 9, sparking an immediate fan reaction.

“Have Mercy” was actually not a surprise drop. In fact, audiences have been awaiting the song since Chlöe’s 23rd birthday in July. The singer had released a snippet of the song that month on TikTok and it has not left the app’s circulation since. Catchy, upbeat and memorable, it’s no surprise that the song garnered so much success. The song’s reign on TikTok has returned after its full release, and it doesn’t appear to be dying out anytime soon.

Chlöe’s voice is like liquid gold. From a technical perspective, it’s clean and polished. Her vocals on “Have Mercy” are no exception to this brilliance. It’s a sound that almost died out in R&B after artists like Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah stopped making music. Chlöe appears to be bringing back those breathy, saccharine-sweet vocals and modernizing them, with some of Beyoncé’s influence evident on the track as well. It’s not too gimmicky or too much. It sticks to the basics of R&B and as a result, encapsulates the laidback, effortless sound of the ‘90s and early 2000s.

“Have Mercy” is both chaotic and organized — and somehow, it works. It has this wildness in regards to the slight sampling and ad-libs but above all, its structure holds strong throughout. She forges this stark, contrasting sound with her sample of “Girls Off the Chain” that combines with an extremely consistent, staccato-style beat. It’s fun, original and everything that audiences expect from her. Chloe x Halle also had strong control and dynamics in their songs, but it shines through even more in Chlöe’s solo work.

The singer also chose to accompany her new song with stunning visuals that solidified her status as not only a musician, but as a performer and entertainer. Because Chlöe has always been very sweet and digestible to typical members of the American public, her music video came as a bit of a shock to many.

Many viewers criticized the alleged impropriety of the video. In an Instagram Q&A done with her fans, the singer was asked why she “showed so much skin” in her video. Chlöe’s response was clear, concise and graceful. She replied, “Because I can. It’s my body, and I’m so proud of it, and I hope you’re proud of yours too.” It was a quick, mature shutdown that didn’t dignify the taunt, but educated and expanded on it. The grace and charisma with which she carries herself made her transition from public ingenue and adolescence to adulthood and confident sensuality both smooth and mature. She established her brand and her sound perfectly.

The music video is as empowering and carefully composed as the song, although the artist admitted to having a bit of anxiety over it. She explained in a tweet, “honestly guys i was a bit sad last night because i’m so scared and anxious. I just really want you all to know i’ve been pouring my heart into this and can’t wait for you to hear. it means a lot to me, it’s finally almost here.”

Turns out, she had nothing to worry about. The video features a sorority-sister Chloe leading a very impressive pack of women and turning them into man-eating Medusas in their own right. Whether it be talking Greek sculptures, unmatched choreography, incredible makeup looks or even the Tina Knowles cameo, the singer does not hold back. The video is incredibly entertaining and adds an extra layer of empowerment, imagery and charm to the song.

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Above all, Chlöe is proving time and time again that she’s all grown up, both as an artist and as a person. “Have Mercy” is a fantastic and mature debut as a solo artist. It carries all of the amazing qualities that epitomized Chloe x Halle but it is also so deeply original and true to her as a solo artist. There should be no doubt as to the impending success of Bailey as she releases more music. At the end of the day, she’s getting things done. She represents a style and era that was built on independence and creativity. If there’s anyone who can bring back ‘90s R&B, it would be Chlöe.

Mariam Nasief, Columbia University

Writer Profile

Mariam Nasief

Columbia University
Biomedical Engineering

Mariam Nasief, originally from New Jersey, is currently a rising sophomore and self-proclaimed pop-culture connoisseur. Although she’s studying engineering, she loves to stimulate her creative side in whatever way that she can.

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