I will warn you now. Next week, if not this weekend (bonus posts yay) will likely be all about Badlands- Halsey’s debut album set to drop this Friday. I’ve been trying to write a post for today all week, this is not the one I had planned but it sort of goes hand in hand so we’re going to roll with it.
I’m sat at my desk watching YouTube videos of Halsey’s late night debut performance on Jimmy Kimmel which took place in LA last night. This performance, like all of her performances, was cool and exciting and important for a wide variety of reasons. First: alternative artists, like Halsey, are not found nearly as often performing on that kind of platform as compared to their pop counterparts. So this kind of exposure is great for the genre as a whole. Secondly, it gave her a national platform to say things to her primarily young female audience like “this song is a reminder that you don’t belong to anyone but yourself” at an instrumental break in Hurricane. And finally, the album, performing this week was obviously on purpose, which is great. You’ve just added a whole other audience who may now have a vested interest in finding out just what the Badlands are. But I think Badlands as a whole is what is really important here and I’m going to go for this so bear with me. Badlands: a concept album about a mental state. About the Badlands, about wanting to get out and feeling like it’s impossible. About talking about it. About no longer whispering words like ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety,’ no longer making jokes about being ‘so bipolar today,’ or thinking that these are things you choose.
Halsey released a trailer for her album which looks like something of a cinematic masterpiece. In it Halsey monologues in voice over saying “I didn’t ask for this. No one asks for this. You’re born into it. You grow up oblivious and sheltered and one day the evil realities of this place hit you square between the eyes like a perfectly aimed bullet. If this was a movie, I would ride off into some blood red sunset, down the stretch of desert road into the wasteland that keeps us captive here. But this isn’t a movie, these are the Badlands.” A perfectly crafted metaphor. Early last week she released Drive off the album, she calls it the first happy song she’s ever written. It’s about leaving she said. It’s about the point she reached in writing the album when she realized you can leave the badlands behind. It is not a permanent state. You can get in your car and drive off into that blood red sunset, and yes you might come back to the badlands again. And yes things may not be blood red sunsets and happy songs forever but they happen.
A voice of a generation . A story that says you actually will be okay. I know, from experience. That is what we needed right now. Instead of sitting and watching 18 year olds ride around in Ferrari’s from their boyfriends, and seeing every perfectly airbrushed girl on the cover of magazines. We need something real in this world, and we all say we want it until it happens. Halsey promised us real from the beginning her social media bios formerly reading ‘I am Halsey, I write songs about sex and being sad and I will never be anything but honest.’
So, from me to you, I suggest first: get the album because I guarantee it’ll be good. And second prepare for the honesty you say you want. Prepare for the honesty you can’t actually face. Because if Halsey gives us anything, it’s the truth.