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Welcome to the Badlands

Posted 09/21/2015 by Lucy Peterson

album cover by Halsey

Halsey releases her first studio album, showcasing her thoughts and experiences through her song lyrics.

Up and coming artist Ashley Frangipane, known to the world as Halsey, released her debut album Badlands on August 28, 2015. The album has sounds of indie-pop as well as electronic pop, with lyrics written by Halsey herself which allows the listener to experience her journey through the Badlands, a fight within her mind.

Frangipane was born in Washington, New Jersey, and has lived there for much of her life. Her stage name, Halsey, came from a street near where she grew up, as well as being an anagram of her actual name. She began her musical career by posting covers of songs, as well as some of her own, on YouTube. In 2014 Halsey wrote a song entitled “Ghost” and posted it to SoundCloud. Many people enjoyed the song and as it gained popularity, she was noticed by a record label, Astralwerks, and was signed to them immediately. Her first EP, Room 93, was released on October 27, 2014 and it gained her even more attention and popularity. Following her EP, Halsey’s next body of work, her debut album, was announced on June 2, 2015.

The album, entitled Badlands, has 16 tracks on the deluxe version, two of which are on her EP, (“Ghost” and “Hurricane”). The tracklist, in order, is “Castle,” “Hold Me Down,” “New Americana,” “Drive,” “Hurricane,” “Roman Holiday,” “Ghost,” “Colors,” “Colors, Pt. 2,” “Strange Love,” “Coming Down,” “Haunting,” “Gasoline,” “Control,” “Young God,” and a cover of the Johnny Cash song, “I Walk the Line.” Halsey describes Badlands as a concept album. The Badlands are a mental state that she is in and the songs describe her journey through them. The songs are intended to be listened to in the specific order in which they are placed, in order to envision the full experience.

The opening track “Castle” describes Halsey entering the Badlands, implied by the lyrics “I’m headed straight for the castle.” The two songs following, “Hold Me Down” and “New Americana,” explain what happened to her in the Badlands. “Hold Me Down” gives the listener some insight into the condition of which she is in, by saying “it’s the devil that’s trying to hold me down.” After these songs comes the track “Drive.” This song describes her leaving the Badlands, reflecting on some of what has happened. The songs following “Drive” are Halsey’s reflection on her visit, some of them good and some bad. A majority of this mental state that she is in is the bipolar depression that Halsey once went through. The song “Control” describes her in this state when she sings, “I can’t help this awful energy…who is in control?”  Although most of the lyrics are very dark, there are some lyrics that describe a good time that Halsey had in the Badlands. In the sixth track of the album, “Roman Holiday,” she sings the lyrics “but for now let’s get away on a Roman holiday,” describing her escaping the Badlands, as well as running away with her lover to experience something happy while being trapped for so long. The album closes with Halsey’s raw and slowed-down cover of Johnny Cash’s famous song, “I Walk the Line.” These songs create the masterpiece that is Badlands, an exciting and intriguing album for her fans and for new listeners.

Halsey’s fans had been waiting eagerly for the release of the album, and once they were able to listen to it, they were moved by the lyrics and the music. Sophomore Grace Leonard, a fan of Halsey who had anticipated the album for many months, found the album to be inspiring as a whole, as well as finding deeper meanings of lyrics in the songs. She said, “My favorite lyrics off of the album are from Colors and they are, ‘you were red, and you liked me ‘cause I was blue. You touched me and suddenly I was a lilac sky, but then you decided purple just wasn’t for you.’” She then said, “It’s about someone changing you and then they decided they don’t like you, and it’s very meaningful to me.” Halsey’s writing causes the listeners to think about a deeper meaning and allows the listener to connect the album to their lives or to something that happened to them. Leonard also said, “Everything about the album is inspiring, and she’s a female artist which is empowering and her album actually means something unlike most of the music today.” Halsey’s lyrics, as well as her position in the music industry, have empowered and inspired many people who have listened to her material, all while releasing only one album.

Halsey’s debut album Badlands is an empowering and moving album, unlike much of the music that is out today. It describes Halsey’s battle with bipolar disorder and how she overcame it, all through original song lyrics. The layout of the album is different from the typical album that is released in today’s time, in the regard that all of the songs on an album don’t translate into an entire story, separating Halsey from her peers in the music industry, and making her an artist to watch. Badlands is a journey that everyone should experience, whether it be to connect to what Halsey went through, or to enjoy the mental state that is the Badlands.