Ashley Frangipane, better known by her stage name, Halsey, recently stormed into the music scene with a near-shocking amount of gusto and dedication to her craft. Her first full-length album, “Badlands,” is the latest result of that dedication.
Halsey’s career began when she posted a version of her single “Ghost” to her personal SoundCloud page, which eventually led to her record deal.
Following her first single release, Halsey went on to drop an EP titled “Room 93,” which was met with rave reviews from critics and fans alike. She then released her debut album “Badlands” through Astralwerks record label in August of this year.
Much like other artists under the same label — including Sia, Phoenix and The Kooks — Halsey’s music style boldly and unabashedly covers a large span of genres.
Despite her versatility and fearlessness when it comes to exploring new musical territory, Halsey has managed to cultivate a signature style that is uniquely her own, both musically and visually.
But Halsey’s boldness is not limited to just her music. In the past few months, Halsey has become known for her tendency to speak on issues she feels passionate about, no matter how controversial.
She has used her background as a biracial woman to inform her discussion of race and recent social justice issues. She has also been very outspoken on Twitter about women’s rights.
Halsey joins an ever-expanding group of celebrities who are not afraid to take a stand for their beliefs, via social media and their work.
As for “Badlands,” the debut record shows Halsey’s undeniable talent. Her breathy, almost hoarse voice, mixed with the often cacophonous, slightly overbearing synthesizers and heavy bass, makes the album sound complex despite the somewhat simplistic lyrics she sings.
I think that’s what most people find appealing about Halsey: Lyrically, she is similar to artists like Banks and Sia, but the delivery and production of her songs are truly unique. This is partly a result of Halsey’s personal and business relationship with famed producer Lido, who has worked with both Ariana Grande and Cashmere Cat.
Despite working with famed producers, Halsey has retained the distinctivness and originality of her sound, without the help of a single featured artist on her album,
Halsey has done what only few up-and-coming musicians have dared to do on their debut records: to stand alone. Fortunately, this decision worked well for Halsey, as “Badlands” is sure to go down as one of the best albums of the year.
Best tracks on the album:
“Castle”: The opening track of “Badlands” sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the album. There are creepy choir singing, Halsey’s signature hoarse vocals and a drum beat that’s just fast enough to make you sway along.
As she sings about being “sick of being poised,” Halsey makes it clear that she won’t be taking no for an answer. She’s not afraid to head “straight for the castle,” if that’s what it takes to get what she wants.
“Roman Holiday”: Perhaps the only song that could truly be called “fun” on this album, “Roman Holiday” is a great road trip song because it’s perfect to sing along to.
It tells the story of a relationship that never had the “timing quite right,” but was worthwhile nonetheless. “Roman Holiday” also breaks up the album efficiently, as it offers an upbeat alternative to the generally slower-paced tracks on the rest of “Badlands.”
“Colors”: If you know anything about Halsey, then you understand that color is important to her: She’s known to sport both hair and clothing in any hue of the rainbow.
This song beautifully encompasses the artist’s fascination with color while telling a heartbreaking love story.
“Gasoline”: Brutally honest and a bit depressing, “Gasoline” is perhaps the best track on “Badlands.” This song’s lyrics are nothing short of blunt: Halsey croons about being “low on self-esteem / so you run on gasoline.” Whereas the instrumentals in the background work against Halsey’s singing on other tracks, the background music couples with her vocals perfectly on “Gasoline.” In fact, you could say that these instrumentals add ghostliness to the song, which lends to its overall melancholy tone.
“Control”: “I’m meaner than my demons,” Halsey sings on this track. Of all of the songs on the album, “Control“ might be the only one with subdued background instrumentals. Don’t get me wrong — it’s not that the song lacks the strong synthesizers Halsey is known for, but on this track, the accompanying music doesn’t seem to be in competition with her singing, as is often the case throughout the album.
Although the aforementioned tracks are arguably the best on the album, the entire debut is strong, especially if you pay particular attention to Halsey’s lyrics. The artist seems to bare her soul on “Badlands,” which makes it a personal experience for the listener, too.
If you’re looking for a set of songs to blast while you put the final touches on your room or to entertain you during your walk to class, “Badlands” is an atmospheric record worth checking out.