BADLANDS | Halsey

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BADLANDS | Halsey

Elizabeth Weitzel

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Is being “weird” the new “cool”? Or is it a gimmick to make an artist stand out in a highly competitive world?

Within the last few years, the music industry has seen artists capitalize on their bold choices, such as Miley Cyrus twerking all over Robin Thicke at the VMAs, or Katy Perry shooting whipped cream out of her bra. Eccentricities and ploys to stay relevant are a given in the world of entertainment, and up-and-coming artist Halsey is playing her own weird card. However, she channels a unique quirkiness into her music in a way that actually works.[su_pullquote align=”right”]“Whether or not one deems this fantasy world as necessary, artistic, or overkill, the music itself makes up for the theatrics.”[/su_pullquote]

Halsey released her first EP, Room 93, in April. She followed Room 93 with her debut album BADLANDS only a few months later. Not only did she write the entire album, but she also created BADLANDS as an alternate world in itself, wanting to make her music seem like an actual place people could escape to. Whether or not one deems this fantasy world as necessary, artistic, or overkill, the music itself makes up for the theatrics.

BADLANDS opens with “Castle,” a Lorde-esque introduction that sets up the feminist, confident, “no one’s gonna mess with me” tone that is prominent throughout the rest of the album. BADLANDS includes three songs carried over from the EP: “Hold Me Down,” “Hurricane,” and “Ghost.” All three of the crowd pleasers hold up, but these more generic pop tunes are enhanced by the increasingly unique selection on BADLANDS.

The album’s first single, “New Americana,” is a satirical anthem for today’s younger generations and a departure from Halsey’s many tortured love songs. “High on legal marijuana, raised on Biggie and Nirvana,” the song references drugs, money, and all kinds of stereotypes. Halsey portrays a pessimistic view on society, yet she communicates a carelessness that leaves one feeling powerful and a sense of freedom, if only for three minutes and four seconds.

[su_pullquote]“Halsey’s young age coupled with many life experiences have allowed her to produce a breakout album…”[/su_pullquote]Standouts include “Roman Holiday,” a nostalgic tune reminiscent of first love, and “Colors,” which features a moving spoken word verse. “Coming Down” and “Young God” are other tracks worth a listen. My favorite on the album, “Gasoline,” is comparable to “New Americana” in that it comments on society’s unrealistic expectations. Halsey embraces her own flaws in this song, calling herself “deranged, strange, insane, and in pain.”

Overall, the album is haunting and resonating. Halsey’s young age coupled with many life experiences have allowed her to produce a breakout album that can appeal to almost anyone who appreciates heartfelt lyrics and good storytelling.

BADLANDS was released on Aug. 28, 2015 by Astralwerks.