Her name? Halsey.
Her game? Single-handedly dominating the internet’s music scene as of lately.
If you have a Tumblr account, Twitter handle or Spotify playlist, chances are you’ve heard of Halsey recently. The 21-year-old singer-songwriter, née Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, hit the scene in October 2014 with her debut EP “Room 93,” according to her Wikipedia page. Singles like “Ghost” and “Empty Gold” circulated almost instantly on social media, gaining the fledgling indie pop artist international acclaim.
This August, Halsey released her first full-length studio album, “Badlands.” The album was hyped up in a way I haven’t experienced personally since the end of my pre-pubescent boy band phase. Both in real life and on the blogosphere, it seemed like everyone I knew had something to say about this new chick in the music scene. Halsey hasn’t shied away from any controversy or forwardness, either. The artist is an outspoken feminist and very vocal about her personal experiences with race and sexuality, according to her Twitter feed.
Whether you love Halsey or hate her, though, one thing is certain: the girl’s got skills and she’s really, really good at captivating her audience.
“Badlands” opens with “Castle,” a darker pop song. Halsey’s voice echoes, giving the song a regal, hymn-like feel. The track has a catchy beat but leaves the listener wanting more. It is reminiscent of Rihanna’s “Disturbia” and is a bit too unoriginal for my liking. “Hold Me Down,” the next song, is more interesting. The artist’s vocal chops are on display, and the lyrics are compelling and catchy.
Sadly, unoriginality is a common theme I’ve noticed in Halsey’s work. Many of her songs seem to channel different contemporary pop or indie artists. “Roman Holiday” and “Control” aren’t readily identifiable as Halsey’s music. This is my biggest gripe with Halsey: she doesn’t have a particularly distinct voice or recognizable style, which makes her blend into the indie pop scene. Frankly, the singer’s work needs more of the passionate, personal quality of her social media personality.
“New Americana,” Halsey’s first new single off of “Badlands,” is catchy and fun with memorable lyrics and a Marina and The Diamonds sort of vibe. It certainly paints a distinct picture of the millennial generation. The jury is still up on whether Halsey’s depiction of ‘90s kids, “high on legal marijuana” and “raised on Biggie and Nirvana,” according to the lyrics is accurate.
“Drive” and “Colors” are my two favorite tracks from the album. “Drive” has a certain melancholy quality that rings true to anyone missing home, or feeling out-of-place where they live. The song is slower and has a soft, catchy beat with the occasional car noise thrown in.
“Colors” has poetic lyrics. Her voice almost mimics Taylor Swift’s in the song, but for once, this doesn’t lessen the track’s impact. Paired with the song’s nostalgic feel, it reads as a typical break-up track. But Halsey’s lyrics are undeniably beautiful: “You were red and you liked me because I was blue / You touched me and suddenly I was a lilac sky / And you decided purple just wasn’t for you…”
The album ends on a memorable note with “Ghost,” one of Halsey’s most popular songs. The lyrics are catchy. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sing along to the song in shower or jot down the lyrics on the outside of my notebook. The artist’s lyrics “I’m searching / For something / That I … can’t reach” are relatable and poetic. It is easy to see why fans love “Ghost.”
Despite her lack of a focused, distinct sound, I think Halsey has huge potential to succeed in the music world. And, hey … a few feminist tweets or highly-circulated Tumblr posts definitely can’t hurt.