Newcomer Halsey is anything but ‘bad’ in debut album ‘Badlands’

Riko Pratt, Editor-in-Chief

For those of you who are well-versed in the world of music, the name Ashley Nicolette Frangipane may not light a spark in your head. Well, in that case, you’ve been missing out on one of the biggest artists to come out of the internet.
Halsey (created as an anagram from Ashley) caught a lot of attention online with the release of her debut single ‘Ghost.’ Shortly after, five record companies fought to have her on their label. That, plus the support of her dedicated fan following allowed her to release an EP in late 2014 titled ‘Room 93.’ Ghost was featured on the extended play as well as another well-received song of hers titled ‘Hurricane.’
Fast forward to about a year later and Halsey is finally releasing her full-length debut album ‘Badlands.’ The aforementioned ‘Ghost’ appears on the release, as well as ‘Hurricane’ on the deluxe edition.
‘Badlands’ was titled such to only give a physical reality to the desolate and lonely state of mind she had while writing the songs. Halsey herself describes the album as ‘songs about sex and being sad’ but I believe there is more to it than that.
The album starts off strong with the dark and shaky ‘Castle.’ The perfect way to open the door to the ‘Badlands,’ in which Halsey is the apparent ruler of as she sings “I’m headed straight for the castle, they want to make me their queen.” Throughout the song she repeats the line ‘There’s no use crying about it’ as if she’s coming to terms with the fact that must now be the leader.
Following ‘Castle’ is the more uptempo ‘Hold Me Down’ which samples the song ‘Easy’ by Son Lux. Halsey wrote in inspiration by these older men that she had met that tried to tell her how things should be done. In a sense, the song is a bit inspirational and serves a reminder that you can’t let people hold you down no matter how small they try to make you feel.
Probably the biggest and soon to be most popular track is ‘New Americana’ which serves as a salute to the youth of today and how pop culture has diversified our world. “High on legal marijuana, raised on Biggie and Nirvana, we are the new americana!” she declares in the booming chorus. The song is sure to resonate well with the younger generation and has a catchy chorus that is completely ready for a radio takeover.
‘Drive’ is one of the album highlights for me. I found the production of the song breath-taking. Halsey created an atmosphere with this song. You can honestly feel as though you are in a car while listening to Halsey croon on about an unrequited love.
As the album progresses the ‘Badlands’ go from light to dark. Halsey’s music would most likely be categorized with the more alternative rock category. With that being said, it is also easy to find the many pop influences throughout the album.
Tracks like ‘Roman Holiday’ and ‘Ghost’ are radio ready and built with sing-a-long choruses. Fan-favorite ‘Colors’ with it’s spoken bridge “You were red, and you liked me because I was blue. But you touched me, and suddenly I was a lilac sky. Then you decided purple just wasn’t for you” would attract fans of the likes of Taylor Swift.
Nearing the end, the album becomes brooding with the near acoustic “Coming Down’ and the scary, twisted ‘Control’ in which Halsey sings about frightened she is of herself. Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she younger she has seen parts of herself that hates. “Who is control?” she sings while mentioning the fact that she isn’t the only one afraid.
The standard album runs 11 songs, but if you get the chance pick up the deluxe which includes 16 songs altogether. ‘Hurricane’ as mentioned before is added to the mix as well as a hauntingly beautiful cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘I Walk The Line.’ ‘Gasoline’ is the true standout in the deluxe edition with a number of fans getting the song trending on social media.
‘Badlands’ is quite an exciting adventure and the overall production of the album is great as well. An excellent debut from an incredible artist. This may your first time hearing about Halsey but I promise you it won’t be your last.
‘Badlands’ is out now.