I was sooo fucking skeptical of Hailee Steinfeld — I guess I still kind of am? I thought she was a Pretty Little Liar! But it turns out she was, like, nominated for an Oscar for True Grit when she was 13 and also wants to be a pop star, which is cool, I guess. All of this shit is probably so manufactured, but I don’t care where an artist comes from as long as they bring the bops.
My friend sent me “Love Myself” when it first came out, and I dismissed it right away as trash, but a few weeks later that hook crept back into my head and I’ve been listening to it ever since. (Scott also likes it! And was pushing it from day one. Shout out to him.) It’s great — empowering and pro-masturbation and a lot of fun, but I wasn’t very interested in seeing what she’d follow it up with, figuring it was a one-and-done label-side kind of deal to give her a hit.
But here we are at her next single — “Hell No’s And Headphones,” one of the corniest titles I’ve ever heard — and it’s actually good! Steinfeld’s releasing her debut Haiz EP at the end of the week and I’m legitimately excited! Maybe it’ll turn out to be really bad. It will probably be really bad! I don’t mind eating crow. But “Hell No’s And Headphones” means she’s two-for-two, and there’s only four tracks on the damn thing.
This one comes from most of the same songwriting team behind “Love Myself” — Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, Oscar Holter, Mattias Larsson, and Robin Fredriksson, with a co-writing credit going to Steinfeld as well — and it carries itself with the same kind of slick, devil-may-care attitude that made the first single so arresting. It’s very much in the same Lordecore vein of pop that’s taking over the radio right now. That’s a style that’s easy to imitate to middling ends — see Halsey, Alessia Cara — but hard to actually get right, and these two tracks definitely get it right.
There’s enough personality and quirks in the lyrics to prevent it from becoming a flattened-out slab of emotion; Steinfeld’s voice is not that special, but she does some interesting things with her delivery to mask the weaknesses. That sped-up vocal run to the chorus? That kind of shit gets me every time. (“And they all look me up and down like I’m the fucking new kid/ But I saw the sun rise on this town way before you did.”) This type of elaborately blown-out pop song isn’t everyone’s thing — I totally get if you want to dismiss this! I doubt Steinfeld will be any kind of lasting star, but I really like what I’ve heard so far. Listen below.
Hailee Steinfeld’s Haiz EP is out on Friday via Republic.