Today’s Song: The Fear of “Missing Out” Takes Center Stage on Maya Hawke’s New Single

Maya Hawke © Andrew Lyman
Maya Hawke © Andrew Lyman
On the upbeat “Missing Out,” singer, songwriter, and actor Maya Hawke comes to terms with a pivotal decision from her past.
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Stream: “Missing Out” – Maya Hawke

It can be dangerous to equate the narrator of a song with the artist themselves — musicians sometimes create characters, explore new perspectives, or mix personal experience with fictional details in their lyrics.

But Maya Hawke has never been shy about writing about her own life in fascinating detail, and on “Missing Out,” one of the singles from Maya Hawke’s upcoming album Chaos Angel, she continues in this mode. She even references her “television salary” in the song’s first verse (likely referring to her role on the hit Netflix series Stranger Things).

Chaos Angel - Maya Hawke
Chaos Angel – Maya Hawke

Maya Hawke is a singer, songwriter, and actor who has deftly managed a career bouncing back and forth between movie sets and music studios. Her acting credits include the aforementioned Stranger Things as well as Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, and the recently released Wildcat, a collaboration with her father, Ethan Hawke. On the music side of things, her new album Chaos Angel will be out May 31st. It’s the artist’s third full-length record, following her 2022 album MOSS and 2020’s Blush.

A recent profile of Maya Hawke in The New Yorker tells the story of how she went to visit her brother at Brown University a couple of years ago while on a break from filming Stranger Things. Hawke, who dropped out of Juilliard once her acting career began to take off, wanted to see what she was missing by forgoing the college experience. Leaving school was a significant decision for the artist, and one she often wondered if she had gotten right.

Details and reflections from her visit to see her brother at Brown are sprinkled throughout “Missing Out”:

Lucy wants to write the next great American novel
She can’t even read the bottle
She says I might be a genius
Well, she could be a model
Didn’t think I’d get in, so I didn’t apply
Now I’m a drunk hanger-on
Hitting on the younger guy
I buy booze for the Ivy League
with my television salary

They think they look up to me, ha

Even with the contemplative subject matter it addresses, “Missing Out” has a fun, upbeat energy to it, which makes it a bit of an outlier in Maya Hawke’s catalogue. Much of the artist’s songs stand out for their introspective lyrics, whispered vocals, and sparse yet effective instrumentation. “Missing Out” still has the lyrical depth you expect from Hawke, but the song has a bigger sound, propelled by jangly guitars, grooving bass, and laid-back drums. This evolution in Hawke’s sound makes the song an excellent choice for a single—it pushes the envelope just enough without feeling jarring to fans of the artist’s past work.

Maya Hawke © Andrew Lyman
Maya Hawke © Andrew Lyman

Maya Hawke’s parents (Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke) are both famous actors, and she addresses the advantages this affords her in the entertainment industry in this song.

Hawke has skillfully handled questions on this subject in interviews, and she does the same here. The second verse begins with a recognition of her privilege, before quickly moving on to more interesting details about herself:

I was born with my foot in thе door
And my mind in the gutter and my guts on the floor
Holding thе party line
Embarrassed all the time
I remember my potential
Before I skipped the fundamentals
Before I ran from safety
Hoping someone would chase me

One of the clear strengths of Maya Hawke’s songwriting is her lyrical poetry. She often combines specific details from her own life with striking images from the natural world. On one of the standouts from her 2022 album MOSS, she sings about accidentally stepping on a luna moth and uses the event to tell the story of a relationship and reflect on self-destructive tendencies. On “Missing Out,” we get a unique image of rebirth, inspired by a time when Hawke came across hot coals by the side of her mother’s farmhouse:

Well, I was left like coals in leaves
And I sparked up in winter’s breeze
And now I know it’s me who’s missing out
Maya Hawke © Trevor Tweeten
Maya Hawke © Trevor Tweeten

Ultimately, Hawke came away from the experience of visiting her brother at Brown feeling like leaving college to act professionally was the right decision for her.

The clarity this moment provided may well have informed the decision to create such an infectious song from the situation. Instead of leaving her with regrets over opportunities she may have lost out on, it allowed her to realize that she wasn’t missing out after all.

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:: stream/purchase Chaos Angel here ::
:: connect with Maya Hawke here ::
Stream: “Missing Out” – Maya Hawke

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Chaos Angel - Maya Hawke

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? © Andrew Lyman

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