Ashley Frangipane. Stage name: Halsey. She’s Indie Pop’s rising star, and brings an entirely new element of raw honesty to the genre. The only thing I think is more impressive than her vocals is her ability to pull off literally every hair color. Seriously, the girl has perfect hair. Uncanny hair abilities aside, Halsey has just released an album that is going to blow the world away.
As her Instagram bio reads, “I write songs about sex and being sad.” There’s no better way to put it. Listening to her music, it’s easy to forget Halsey is only 20. Her lyrics reveal a girl who is wise and aged beyond her years. She seems to have lived a lifetime in those 20 short years. The fact that she can write such deep, meaningful songs at such a young age is a true testament to her maturity and talent.
After listening to Badlands, only one phrase comes to mind: pure lyrical genius. Her lyrics are raw, emotional, and extremely gritty. I absolutely love it. Halsey often emphasized she wants to be completely open and honest in her work, and she definitely accomplished this with Badlands. As for her sound, think moody like Lorde, but darker, and with a more melodic voice. Her voice has a dreamy, yet gritty quality in many of the songs. Combine this with the intricate layering of the instrumentals (which are incredibly unique), you have a knockout album that will be on repeat for years. Not a single song on the album is the same when it comes to the instrumentals. It’s almost like her sound mixers were constantly experimenting, and kept getting incredible results.
She said in an interview, “Even if the Badlands are all you’ve ever known, you can find solace outside them and I think that’s the job of the album, it’s to remind people they aren’t stuck inside their head.” I didn’t realize how important this quote was in relation to the album until I listened to it. A lot of the lyrics come from a deep, dark place; only someone who lived through that kind of pain could write such hard hitting lyrics. These lyrics are proof you can get out of your head, because she was able to do it with these beautiful, haunting lyrics. It’s almost as if the words are taken from her journals, they’re just that personal.
This personal element of the album though is what makes this album so special to me though. I can’t say I relate to every song, but the pain in some of them, and the raw honesty is incredibly relatable. Control gave me chills the first time I heard it; I remember texting my best friend “I swear to God 16 year old me could have written this.” Gasoline is another that struck me. Halsey doesn’t write about perfect first loves and carefree summers like a lot of artists her age. She writes about pain, loss, mental illness, and struggle, and real love, the kind of love that rips you apart yet still manages to pull you together at the same time. Badlands is just so real. It even made me cry a few times because all I could think was she gets it. She’s lived it. I’m not alone.
Scrolling through the Badlands tag on Tumblr, I realized I am definitely not the only one who felt this way. It’s truly incredible to see an artist touch so many young lives in such a special way. A lot of people who struggle with the stuff she writes about feel alone and isolated. Halsey expressed once that the album was her “little escape” and that she wanted it to be ours. That is definitely the truth. This is the kind of album you listen to in your car while driving empty streets at 2am, just feeling. I love it. Thank you, Halsey. I can’t wait to see what your next albums hold.