Kate Robertson’s seven reasons why you should stop underestimating Halsey.
Halsey hasn’t had the easiest run of things since first appearing on our radars in 2015. Sceptics have called her a manufactured popstar, Pitchfork slaughtered her debut album BADLANDS, and people of a certain age like to write about how they don’t get the hype. But what those people of a certain age don’t understand is that she’s a millennial artist, born out of the internet, who speaks a millennial language that her demo totally gets. Whether or not your dad who exclusively listens to 1980s Flying Nun likes her is irrelevant. Zane Lowe rates her, ’90s babies rate her, the Top 40 rates her, and so far that’s been enough to keep her playing the world’s biggest stages. If you’re yet to properly familiarise yourself with the artist behind alt-pop anthems ‘Ghost’, ‘Gasoline’ and ‘Bad At Love’, here are some reasons you should dive on in.
She cracked the top 10 in 2017
2017 was a tough year for female recording artists on charts across the world, but nowhere more noticeable than the Billboard Hot 100, where just 14% of top 10s were recorded by women. The most recent to cut through is Halsey, whose current single ‘Bad At Love’ – her first solo appearance in the top 10 – is sitting comfortably in the number eight spot. It’s a cause for celebration, and one that has me hoping next week week she can be the one to finally kick Imagine Dragons off their boring and stale perch.
Her remix of ‘Love Yourself’ has more attitude than the Biebs himself
Love it or despise it for knocking off the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, Triple J’s Like A Version has had artists bringing risky covers down under since 2005. Halsey’s debut left nothing wanting, giving JB’s ‘Love Yourself’ a ‘Fuck Yourself’ rework that’s delivered with an effortlessness and understatement pop divas could only dream of, and that makes for ideal listening anytime you need to internalise rage in a public place.
Badlands was one of 2015’s strongest debut albums
With a tidal wave of already established artists such as Jamie xx, Kendrick Lamar and Carly Rae Jepsen releasing strong mid-career albums, 2015 was a tough year to breakthrough, but Halsey quickly proved she’s not one to be taken lightly. The online communities who made her a star went on to become the best kind of PR, pushing Halsey the artist and Halsey the personality so far and wide industry observers would have struggled avoiding her.
Halsey’s narratives suck you into the fantasies she’s existing in
It’s not uncommon for artists to bury the truth inside a fictional world, but few indulge us for an entire album. Where her debut BADLANDS was about “a girl living in this post-apocalyptic society, not wanting to escape, but knowing she should”, hopeless fountain kingdom tells a story of two people who change themselves so much for love they ultimately let the real versions of themselves die, built around the easy to identify world of Romeo and Juliet.
She’s telling stories we’ve heard a million times before, but the castles and the deserts and the Montagues and Capulets give her the freedom to shift seamlessly between ethereal synths, wide open spaces and crashing percussion without once losing the natural ebb and flow of her lyrics.
To some degree we’re all hopeless romantics, realists and fuck ups, and Halsey lets us be these multi-dimensional people, as opposed to the one-sided protagonists we’re all too often presented with in pop music.
She’s an open book for the benefit of her fans
People in the public eye have absolutely no obligation to share anything with the public. We like to think we respect that, but we’re only human and who doesn’t take an opportunity to indulge in an OK Weekly at the hairdresser?
Google search Halsey and you’ll be met with a plethora of features in the biggest publications detailing her views on sexuality, internet communities, bipolar disorder, creating a personal brand and anything else you could ever want to know. When she fucks up, like we all do from time to time, she takes ownership and admits to it. Putting yourself out there opens you up to a world of criticism, and it takes a damn strong backbone to cop it and move on. It’s an openness that goes hand in hand with the social persona she’s built for herself, and it keeps that diehard online fanbase engaging in every goddamn thing she does.
… and then there’s that song
I’ve saved the best until last, if only because I know 93% of you would’ve tapped out if I mentioned it any earlier. Yep, that’s right, I managed to wait until the absolute last moment to reference ‘Closer’ by The Chainsmokers, and featuring Halsey (!!!). Unofficially known as the greatest song of 2016 for reasons absolutely nobody can pinpoint, it marked The Chainsmokers’ peak, and gave Halsey a launchpad from which she went on to chew them up, spit them out, and take those 256 million YouTube views with her. A hero to us all.
Halsey plays Spark Arena in Auckland on 19 April 2018. Spark has an exclusive pre-sale for Spark customers, available from 11 am Monday 18 December to 11 am Wednesday 20 December 2017.
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.