Halsey is a new to the music scene, but she’s coming up fast. Having opened for the likes of The Kooks and Imagine Dragons, and later this year she will join The Weeknd’s headlining arena tour, the 20-year-old is certainly having the time of her life on the road.
If you want pop with a twist; look to her. With beats reminiscent of Lorde, paired with a more colorful persona, Halsey is quickly catching the eyes of the superstar’s fanbase. If you’re all about this new fairy-pop trend (as I’ve been calling it—people like Ryn Weaver, Tove Lo, Melanie Martinez, and again, Lorde), you’re going to love Halsey.
So here’s our review of the singer’s first full-length album, Badlands, put out on August 28th of this year (we know, we’re a little late, but there is no time limit on discovering new music).
Normal Tracks: 11
Deluxe Tracks: 5
Singles: “Hold Me Down” and “New Americana”
This album is, in one word, trippy. Halsey takes all the good things about pop and adds her own flair to it. While most songs on the album carry grandiose choruses prone to get stuck in your head, some songs like “Coming Down” and “Haunting” get lost in the thick of things. Even so, Badlands is a peak into the mind of Ashley Frangipane. It’s an honest album, displaying an ultimate transparency about things such as relationships, sex, fame, and dealing with internal demons.
The album opens with “Castle”, which is the perfect song to introduce us to Halsey. Before this, the only way to identify the singer was by one EP (titled Room 93) with five songs on it. With this song, you get a feel for her smooth, crooning vocals, that yet hold their own in the midst of everything going on in the background. She explains the troubles of her rise to fame, but also the conflict that comes with her speaking out about it, because of how fortunate her situation is.
However, Halsey is not one to make herself a slave to the industry; she is adamant about being herself and not holding back. The instrumentals on this album convey the same strength. “Castle” and “Colors” are both cinematic and big; “Castle” even throws in a small interlude of a choir. All of these combined elements give the album a sense of rebelliousness and channel the unapologetic-ness Halsey is known for.
“Hold Me Down” deserved to be the lead single for the album. It has a punchy beat and catchy chorus; all key elements to a successful pop song. Her vocal abilities shine here. Halsey generally likes to stick to her lower register, giving her songs a sort of sultriness. The song samples “Easy” by Son Lux.
Basically made for millennials, “New Americana” is an anthem that will not be forgotten. Sighting relatable artists like Biggie and Nirvana, Halsey shows us that she is just one of us. The backing vocals on the chorus give the song a majestic feel.
“Drive” is one of the slower songs on the album, and it features Lido, her ex-boyfriend and producer. While not one of the stand-outs on the album, its simplicity and natural sounds reel you in just when you’ve forgotten about the song.
While “Haunting” does fade in comparison to other songs, it includes one of my favorite pre-choruses to date. The melody hits right where you want it to be, but other parts of the song seem to fall flat.
“Control” is my personal favorite on the album, just for the line “Goddamn right, you should be scared of me…”. Never shying away from speaking her mind, “Young God” also contains shocking lyrics, with Halsey singing in the second verse “If you wanna go to heaven, you should f*** me tonight”.
“Ghost” is the ending track on the regular album and appeared on the first EP Halsey put out in early 2015. The song quickly became her signature when Room 93 was the only thing she had out. Its interesting syncopated beat and rhythmic lyrics make it a gem of a song, making sense to end with what got her noticed.
In my opinion, some of the deluxe songs are even better than some songs included on the regular album. “Strange Love” and “Gasoline” are both incredible songs, and deserved to be on the actual album. A cover of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” was also included on the deluxe album. Her sultry, dark rendition of the old hit does it justice.
In a commentary for her song “Trouble”, featured on Room 93, Halsey said, “I make sure that I never play the victim, and that the protagonist always has the option and the intention to leave and take care of themselves.”
She makes a point to establish herself as a strong individual, with whatever she puts out. And Badlands showed that.
Halsey will be featured on a track on Justin Bieber’s new album. You can also catch her on “The Beauty Behind The Madness” Tour with Travi$ Scott and of course, The Weeknd on December 15th at Philips Arena.