Badlands: Review

Image Via 8tracks

If you have never heard of Halsey, you’ll hear her name soon. Born Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, (and now goes by an anagram of her first name as well as a street name in her New Jersey hometown), Halsey is a twenty year old cultural phenomenon, to say the least.

Before the release of her debut, full length album Badlands, Halsey had an already impressive track record. With just one EP to her name released earlier this year, she was arguably the queen of social media, with half a million Twitter followers, an impressive stamp on Tumblr, and a spot opening up for Imagine Dragons on their Smoke and Mirrors tour.

After being able to see Halsey perform twice in one week in Chicago, once at a free Vevo Lift Live show featuring MisterWives, James Bay, and Halsey, and once at her Lollapalooza set, I was extremely excited for her album to come out. I found her performances to be mysterious, like she was waiting to reveal something more after her album was finally out. That mystery kept me excited for nearly a month after the performances to the release date of Badlands, August 28th.

Halsey has the romance of Lana Del Rey, the teen angst of Lorde, and the rawness and honesty of Sky Ferreira.  Despite finding clear comparisons between these artists, I find them to be a bit limiting. Halsey has her own voice that is clear throughout her album and her entire Badlands vision. I find that this album is a solid collection of songs that all have the same vibe that accurately portrays what Halsey is trying to express with her music. Her ability to tell her story with such a strong voice at her age is quite inspiring.

The opening track, “Castle,” is probably one of my favorites. With lines like “I’m headed straight to the castle, they wanna make me their queen, and there’s an old man sitting on the thrown and saying ‘I should probably keep my pretty mouth shut'” is a classic jab at the patriarchy and Halsey’s desire to challenge it.

Notable tracks on the album include “Roman Holiday” with a chorus strong enough to drive me to tears, Colors (the bridge was a poem written that Halsey originally wrote and posted on Tumblr, getting her writing famous before anyone knew it would be apart of a song), and Strange love – a supposed ode to her fling with The 1975 singer Matt Healy.

If I have to critique this album, I would like Halsey to get rid of the songs from her first EP to make room for other songs (this probably has nothing to do with Halsey and everything to do with her record contract). Songs like Hurricane and Ghost are important ones that influenced the success of her career, but I think they belong on Room 93 and not on Badlands. I also do not like her single, New Americana. I find the whole concept of the song annoying and I don’t necessarily believe what she is singing. Whether or not she’s telling the truth (that she was raised on Biggie and Nirvana when I don’t know more than 2 songs from each of those bands and we are both the same age), something about the song seems like it’s trying too hard. It’s unfortunate that this is a song she is known for because I believe she can do better.

My favorite songs from the album are definitely Roman Holiday, Colors, Strange Love, and Coming Down.

Have you heard Badlands? Tell me what your favorite song is in a comment below!

Kristin

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