Haley Reinhart's new song "Last Kiss Goodbye" is the CoverGirl of music: It's easy, breezy, and beautiful. This is a far cry from the striated pop that shows up in the Spotify Top Hits playlist. It's simple. The video, which premieres today exclusively with Refinery29, is just as simple: Reinhart dances around the canals in Venice Beach, flirting with the camera. Reinhart tells Refinery29 herself that it's meant to be stripped down. Actually, "Last Kiss Goodbye" isn't meant to be anything, much like an actual last kiss goodbye, the last peck before the real, crushing goodbye hits. She tells me that she recorded the song with a hand mic, a guitar, and not much else.
"We just kinda left it really super raw," Reinhart says over the phone. "I wanted to give my fanbase and any new audience out there a chance to get to know me as a raw artist who can do a pop and also a jazzier feel." The track has a bossa nova swing, but Reinhart's vocals — showcased on season 10 of American Idol — have the lilt of low-fi pop.
Much has been made of Reinhart's vocals over the years. A unique blend of throaty and nimble, it's the perfect vehicle for creative covers. A YouTube video of Reinhart covering Radiohead's "Creep" with the group Postmodern Jukebox went viral in 2015, garnering over 48 million views. Reinhart worked and toured with Postmodern Jukebox for years, lending her voice to songs such as "Seven Nation Army" and "Black Hole Sun."
In both her covers and her original music, Reinhart has leaned on the strength and the power in her voice — in "Baby It's You," a track from her 2017 album What's That Sound?, Reinhart showcases a Joplinesque sound, wailing, "Don't want nobody" at the top of her range. But "Last Kiss Goodbye" is notably restrained. Reinhart dances near the top of her range in a tired, almost bored falsetto. The result is something a little, well, summery.
"I was really hoping that we would release the song in the summer, because it totally has a summer vibe going on," she says. A summer song, by her definition, should "really let your voice travel out into the distance." It should be so simple, she says, that "people can really catch onto the melody and sing along with it."
And it's not just the beachiness of the video that makes it summery. "As far as the video goes, from taking a stroll with your loved one, or like, swinging on swings, or rolling around in the sand...I wanted to put all my favourite things in it — from all those things to roses and the sunshine and the canal," Reinhart says. "It's that feeling of, you don't know exactly where you are, but it's where you want to be."
That's actually a good metaphor for where Reinhart is herself. A self-described "entertainer," Reinhart is a modern artist in that she straddles a few disciplines. She's pop, she's jazz, and, as of 2015, she's a voice actress on the Netflix sitcom F is for Family. She's also straddling personal artistry with the television-owned fame that comes with appearing on American Idol. (Reinhart didn't win, but she was a fan favourite.) "It's really important for me to break away, as much as I totally respect and honour where I come from and my roots," she says. "[But] also to take a step forward and move into your own light as an artist." Reinhart's light, like "Last Kiss Goodbye," might not be in any specific place, but it's right where she wants to be.
Watch the full music video for "Last Kiss Goodbye," below.