‘Runaway’ Shows Hayley Kiyoko Exploring the Lows of a Relationship

The song caps off a passionate four-song EP that might be the musician's best work yet.
December 24, 2019
8 mins read

“Runaway” is the fourth track on Hayley Kiyoko’s “I’m Too Sensitive For This S–t” EP; this latest addition to her body of work might just be the strongest that Kiyoko has ever made. The EP is likely about the same girl as each song relates so closely to the next.

“Runaway” definitely showcases some of the lows of a relationship. Even from the first line, Kiyoko describes a romantic relationship as a rather negative experience. She sings, “I gave it all to you / Left me exhausted.” Instantly, listeners can sympathize with her, understanding it is a messy situation. Kiyoko then continues, “And the least you can do / not make me nauseous / watching me watching you / I’m deep in quicksand / I’m falling into you, I’m into you / still into you.”

Kiyoko continues detailing this toxicity throughout the rest of the first verse, leading into the chorus. It is clear that Kiyoko is in a fight with both herself and the girl she is singing about. She’s aware that she’s the one putting all the effort into the relationship; she needs her partner to do the same. In the prechorus, Kiyoko takes listeners further into these thoughts. ”I’ma freak, freak out / if you let me down, if you let me down.”

The chorus of “Runaway” might be the best part of the song. It’s separate from the rest of the track — quieter even. The verses and prechorus are filled with heavy bass and anger, but the chorus turns to a plea. Here, she is begging for some attention, begging to be treated the way she deserves to be treated. She pleads, “If it’s not in vain, let me hear you say / something that won’t make, make me run away / If you’re not afraid, let me hear you say / something that won’t make, make me run away / Runaway.”

The lyrics of the chorus are simple and repetitive. Kiyoko uses the verses to express her anger and provide the details of the relationship but uses the chorus to directly speak to the lady that has hurt her.

Despite having lighter lyrics and production, the chorus is still aggressive in the lyric video. Mostly in black and white, this video plays with different fonts, sizes and sometimes even colors to showcase the lyrics. There doesn’t seem to be a connection between these artistic choices and the lyrics they show, but they are interesting nonetheless.

Throughout the entire song, the video appears to be glitching. The glitches evoke a post-apocalyptic newscast from a movie — making this broadcast is draining out the whole system. Maybe for Kiyoko, a relationship without respect is a post-apocalyptic world.

Verse two of “Runaway” is the strongest part lyrically. Opening with, “You’re like a chemical / Too good, but toxic,” this first line makes the point that Kiyoko has been trying to make this entire time. There are some advantages in the relationship, but is it enough to make it worth it? The rest of the verse focuses on the lows between the two of them. “Extreme, the highs and lows / Tears like a faucet / as I look back at you / sinking in quicksand.”

Again, is it worth it? This is the question answered by the chorus: For Kiyoko, it’s only worth it if her girlfriend will start acting like a real girlfriend. She clearly wants to stay in the relationship, she’s clearly very into this girl, but she needs some confirmation that the feelings are mutual. This idea is a very common theme throughout the other tracks on the EP. The other three tracks — “I Wish”, “demons” and “L.O.V.E. Me” — all deal with the same issue of a girl sending too many mixed signals.

The first track, “I Wish,” dropped back in July with a star-studded music video. The video opens with a heartbroken Kiyoko trying to forget about the girl she just broke up with by drinking a potion and getting some help from her friends. The scene then changes to an angry Kiyoko, dancing through her bitterness with the help of some very talented backup dancers. “I Wish” is angry, calling out the woman who is “selfish with [her] affections.” This track is also one of the few tracks where Kiyoko curses, dropping an F-bomb in the second verse.

The song “demons” breaks free from the rest of the tracks by focusing on Kiyoko’s feelings. Instead of calling out another for hurting her, Kiyoko reflects on her own bad behavior. This track seems to be about being insecure and then making dumb decisions based on that insecurity. Now, I know that this is kind of a stretch, but I can’t help but wonder if this track relates to the others, if the source of these negative feelings comes from the toxic relationship. She also hints at these negative feelings in the third track, “L.O.V.E. Me,” by singing, “I’m working through my issues.”

My favorite track (so far) on the EP is “L.O.V.E. Me.” This track is everything a pop song should be: fun, upbeat and great to dance to. In every place that “Runaway” is slow and pleading, this song is fast and flirty. Kiyoko is still trying to get this woman to treat her right, but there’s an unbothered air throughout the song, suggesting that if this girl isn’t going to step up, then she’s getting dumped.

“Runaway” fits in very nicely with these other tracks. Hayley Kiyoko has made a clear sound for herself on “I’m Too Sensitive For This S–t.” Spotify currently has the album listed as an EP, but the description under the “Runaway” lyric video describes it as her “upcoming project.” Could this mean that the EP could turn into a full-length album? If it does, will she keep the title the way it is? Only time will tell. For now, I’ll just keep blasting the four released tracks and hope for a fifth one to drop soon.

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