Hopeless Fountain Kingdom: Top Tracks

Halsey’s sophomore album does not disappoint here are my top 5 tracks off Hopeless Fountain Kingdom:

1. 100 Letters

The first song on the album, following only Halsey’s reading of Shakespeare’s Prologue from Romeo and Juliet. This track, I think, sets the tone for the concept of the entire album. “I don’t let him touch me anymore, I said I’m not something to butter up and taste when you get bored.” A message of discovering/empowering oneself outside of a relationship – whether that be romantic or platonic.

2. Devil in Me

“You said I’m too much to handle, you said I shine too bright I burnt the candle, flew too high.” As someone with a pretty deep seated fear of mediocrity and having experienced sort of existing in this state of ‘but she’s so much, she’s too much’ I love this song; I love the idea of that there is this separate being inside that you can turn off and on, and more so I love that by the end we can understand that waking it up is the only way to live.

3. Bad at Love

“I’m bad at love, but you can’t blame me for trying. You know I be lying saying ‘boy you’re the one’ that could finally fix me, looking at my history, I’m bad at love.” #relatableAF

4. Heaven in Hiding

I just think this song is so well done, and I know it reminds me of something else but I can’t put a finger on it. Lyrically it’s stunning “And when you start to look at me, a physical fatality,” musically it’s the perfect road trip song with a driving beat that just grows throughout the track.

5. Eyes Closed

“If I keep my eyes closed he looks just like you, but he’ll never stay – they never do.” The perfect song for your post breakup rebound. Halsey has a magic touch when dissecting her own relationships in this larger than life lens, and somehow making them entirely relatable to someone not living in a dystopian version of Romeo and Juliet.

No Girls Allowed- The Boys Club of the Music Industry.

As a woman you have to explain every single move you make. You were assaulted? Well what were you wearing? He hit you? Why didn’t you just leave then? You don’t want children? Won’t you be unfulfilled? You slept with how many people? Don’t you think that’s a little whore-ish? In the music industry they are all the more scrutinized. When Miley Cyrus released Wrecking Ball Sinéad O’Conner took to her personal blog to express her concern, “I repeat, you have enough talent that you don’t need to let the music business make a prostitute of you. You shouldn’t let them make a fool of you either. Don’t think for a moment that any of them give a flying f*** about you. They’re there for the money … we’re there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can be REALLY in control.” To which the embattled pop star responded via social media with a screen grab of O’Conner’s Twitter feed in 2012 where the Irish performer is seeking psychiatric care.

Tanya Rad, of On Air with Ryan Seacrest works with many women and many stars and frequently posts photos with them on her personal Instagram using the hashtag ’empowered women, empower women.’ A mantra I have personally adopted. The music industry, the entertainment industry more accurately, however is a little less progressed. Male artists with large female followings are notoriously written off as some how less than. But why? Why is having me, an educated, young female as a fan a negative? And why is it that I am expected to be a fan of Arianna Grande and Demi Lovato but when I say I know every word to 85% of Eminem’s discography people think I’m kidding. Why is the fact that I host a pop-punk format radio show some how laughable?

As the traditional music industry is collapsing it’s becoming more realistic for women to be able to create and own their ideas, but it’s still a boys club. Women who hang out with artists are groupies while men must be involved in the industry. If I had a dime for every time an assistant, publicist, stylist or make up artist or any other female involved with a male artist’s career, got trashed in the tabloids and on social media as the “new fling” or “rumored girlfriend” I’d be able to pay off my student loans in a snap. While male artists have no privacy, females involved with them and female artists themselves have no self. Halsey has said it a thousand times, critiqued magazines and other interviews for naming the male artists she’s connected to before they name her, the person being interviewed. She becomes the act associated with Twenty One Pilots and Justin Bieber, hanging out with Matty of the 1975 and posing with Michael and Luke from 5 Seconds of Summer, instead of the artist who could, in my opinion, lead the next Riot Grrrl movement.

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called ‘The Punk Singer.’  The film was all about Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kill a feminist motivated, 90% female, punk band from the time of Hole and Nirvana.  Angry, smart females took up arms in the form of music and literature and thus formed the Riot Grrrl movement, fronted by bands like Bikini Kill. In an early zine released from the movement they explained the reasoning behind it “because I believe with my wholeheartmindbody [sic] that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will, change the world for real.”  And if we taught girls that instead of creating and sometimes encouraging the growing behavior of objectifying yourself before someone else can then girls absolutely would change the world for real.

While male artists joke and are written with ‘devilish grins’ in magazine articles as they divulge the secrets of post show antics with multiple girls a night, Taylor Swift is called a slut for her dating habits. Calum Hood of 5 Seconds of Summer gained infamy and publicity for his band when a snapchat video of him fully exposed, which he’d taken himself, leaked but Jennifer Lawrence and Vanessa Hudgens? They should not have ever taken photos like that and what were they thinking!? We need more Kathleen Hanna’s, we need to stop making women in music second class citizens, my gender has nothing to do with my value as a fan or as an artist. We need to stop allowing the music industry to pimp out female artists only to slut shame them for what they’ve been asked to do. And we need to stop applauding the objectification of women in the media, in the songs we hear on the radio and in the interviews done with our favorite bands. I am a well versed music junkie and if the opportunity presented itself you can bet I would gladly be the name next to Harry Styles’ in the headlines, but I am also smart, and driven, and plan on making my name as known as anyone else’s in this industry and I won’t compromise for that because I am a female. I shouldn’t have to, and we shouldn’t be asking that. Women in this industry, at all levels, in all facets are incredibly smart and strong and talented. There is so much more to talk about with us than bust sizes and who’s slept with who. It’s nearly 2016 and it’s time for a real change.

[Image from The Odyssey Online]

Song of the Week: Tokyo Narita Freestyle (explicit) – Halsey & Lido

“It seems like you never listen and I hate you lately.” Song of the week from my favorite exes. Halsey and Lido team up again for Tokyo Narita, which, while being only 2 1/2 minutes long somehow gives you all the feels.

Check it out on Spotify below!


[Image from PaperMag]

Song of Week: I Write Sins Not Tragedies – Brenden Urie & Halsey

Coachella – when the boho chic starlets head to the desert for a weekend, doing their best to create modern day Woodstock with the help of our favorite hip hop and alternative artists (plus the random pop star that doesn’t really fit. Hi Ellie Goulding.) This years festivities have included everyone to Kanye to Ice Cube and of course my dear fave Halsey who brought her fave Brenden Urie out for the ending of New Americana and a duet version of I Write Sins Not Tragedies the anthem of any punk kids youth.

While opinions on the actual performance are everyone from yikes to obsession I figured I’d share it with you and whether you want to revel in this nice update to the track or find the original and take in that nostalgia. Link here to watch the performance, fair warning the overuse of the F-Bomb is real.

[Image from Alt Press]



February Favorites!

Spring has sprung, as has the count down to spring break for every college student I know! But for all of us here in my little corner of the internet we know what that means: last month’s favorites playlist!

Follow this link to listen to what I had on repeat all of February!

Song of the Week: Slow- Lido + Halsey

I try to avoid live videos for songs of the week or any other music posts here on To the Encore because nine times out of ten you get more of the audience than artist but I love this song too much to not give it to the public and this video is pretty good audio and visual quality from Halsey’s Badlands release show she did in LA back in August. It’s a collab that wasn’t released formally by either of them but Lido (who executively produced Badlands) released it in a zip file at the beginning of last year with other of his tracks from 2014 from his personal website for free. Lido joined Halsey on stage during her album release show to perform Drive and then seemingly on a whim the pair decided to perform Slow, and this is your song of the week, you will be able to find the “studio version” on my Spotify later this month!

[ Photo from Halsey Instagram]

Now Entering: The Badlands.

The time has come to drive, dive, fly, or run into the Badlands as fast as possible. Halsey’s debut album dropped 8/27 at around 10PM central time in the U.S. The following post will be an experience.(I’m too excited and editing this is going to be a job!) If you make it all the way through this you deserve a prize!

Castle: The editor’s note on iTunes reads that this song and New Americana (which we already know I LOVE) is the graduation speech you always wanted to hear. And that could not be more true. So powerful as the opener of the album. The choral pieces in the background completely change the dynamics from what we’ve heard on stage while she’s been performing this song. The beginning there’s a beat that sounds like a gate closing, which is perfect when keeping in mind that at this point we regard the Badlands as something we can’t leave. But she’s still determined to win, to fight, to be the one in control, and I love that. Favorite Line: “Oh all these minutes passing, sick of feeling used. If you wanna break these walls down you’re gonna get bruised.”

Hold Me Down: This was my first favorite song off the album, I’d heard it live when I saw Halsey opening for Imagine Dragons in Omaha this summer and I loved it.  It was powerful, and I remember reading somewhere, I forget now if it was a fans interpretation or if Halsey actually said this, that it was about her entrance into the recorded music industry. It was about giving up her expression and her love and passion for song writing and performing to be monetized by her label. And thinking, this girl is bad ass. Halsey prides herself on writing and doing the things male performers get away with all the time. Pushing boundaries, writing about sex, all of it. And this song solidifies just how strong and tough and bad this New Jersey girl really is. Favorite Line: “My demons are begging me to open up my mouth I need them mechanically make the words come out They fight me, vigorous and angry, watch them pounce Ignite me, licking up the flames they bring about.”

New Americana: This released early off the album as well, and became a single. I’ve discussed it so many times at this point I’ll keep this brief but it is so important for my generation to start using our brain and making change to our world and to have this anthem that could lead that is the coolest thing in the world. Favorite Line: “Raised on biggie and Nirvana we are the New Americana.”

Drive: The first happy song. The flipped switch that says you can leave. Again, I talked about this one in my last post so I’ll recommend you go read that if you haven’t instead of rambling on again. Favorite Line: “It’s bliss. It’s so simple but we can’t stay. Over analyze again, would it really kill you if we kissed?”

Hurricane: Hurricane is another song I’ve mentioned before. I’ve used it on my radio show a couple times. A raw song about belonging to yourself. One of my favorites before the album dropped. Favorite Line: I’m a wanderess, I’m a one night stand don’t belong to no city don’t belong to no man.

Roman Holiday: If my roommates were not here and/or not sleeping I’d probably be screaming. A coming of age song is the only way I can phrase it, and it feels like it. It feels like a romance and a whirlwind at that. It feels like the fear and firsts she describes. It feels like the perfume she mentions in the first line- the floral kind you steal from a mother. I won’t lie, I started crying a few seconds in. That’s the power this young woman has (which is a weird way to refer to someone my age…. moving on) I always wanted to be in entertainment because of the power music has and artists have in shaping society and youth more specifically. Halsey took that power in stride and this song shows that. Favorite line: ‘We’re headstrong, and our heart’s gone and the timing’s never right.”

Ghost: The song that hooked me. The original. The first. The self released track. The track that started it all. You almost have to get wistful as she sings about reaching for something she can’t reach as her album is #2 on iTunes. Congratulations Ashley. Congratulations. Favorite Line: “you’re a rolling stone boy, never sleep alone boy, got a million numbers and they’re filling up your phone, boy.”

Colors: This song is one of those that you play while its raining in the car. It’s the perfect metaphor. As someone who has often felt the consequences of allowing someone to change you and then watching them leave this song will always hit me hard. It’s a song we’ve heard live for awhile but hearing it in this format sent chills down my spine in two seconds. Favorite Line: You’re ripped at every edge but you’re a masterpiece.

Colors, pt. 2: A brief reprise of colors, not exactly what I expected when I saw it on the track list but an impeccable production quality!

Strange Love: Okay, first, explicit: like very… but so good. So good, especially looking at it in the context of how my, our, generation tends to over share- and expect that from their peers- I love this. I love that its about secrets, I love that it’s about people not needing to know your whole story. I love it.  Favorite line(s):And I’m gonna write it all down, and I’m gonna sing it on stage;That’s the beauty of a secret You know you’re supposed to keep it.

Coming Down: I think this song is a great reflection of Halsey’s raw talent. Her voice in this song, all of the others as well, but this one really speaks to her vocal talent, and the unique quality of it. As well as her lyric quality. Just overall a great representation of her talent and what we can look forward to more of after Badlands. Favorite Line: I found the Devil I found him in a lover And his lips like tangerine In his color coded speak.

Haunting: Living for the production on this song. The thing with Halsey songs is that there are so many situations you can apply her lyrics to. The concept album was in summation about a mental state but this song, for me, goes to sour relationships I can’t seem to rid myself of. Great song. Definitely tugs at the emotions no matter how you find it in your life. Favorite Line:  You’ve got a fire inside but your heart’s so cold.

Gasoline: This song is tied for my favorite on the album. I think this, and the song which follow entitled Control best represent the mental state the album refers to. About how mental health issues change ones opinion of themselves. How it feels to live with these issues, and fight these issues. I’ve had it on repeat since the album came out and it is the one song most frequently stuck in my head. Favorite Line: Do you call yourself a F****ing hurricane like me?

Control: I think this song is the most clear cut, obvious representation of demons and mental illness on the album. Halsey’s ability to make this so relatable without being triggering is incredible. The lyrics of this song should leave you shivering, they do for me. A song about trying to win a battle with the vicious things living in your head. I think it is beyond important for songs like this to exist to show that these problems, these demons exist inside Hollywood,inside the sparkly celebrity world we’re all so fascinated with, and Halsey does the perfect job of showing that. Favorite Line: I’m bigger than my body, I’m colder than this home, I’m meaner than my demons, I’m bigger than these bones.

Young God: This is my other favorite album song. I think it’s great in the lines of the concept where in my mind, she’s getting ready to leave. Where you can over come you can be the controller the leader the supreme being over these demons and the illnesses and the issues. You can win. Be the God. I love it . Favorite Line: Oh baby girl you know we’re gonna be legends. I’m the King and you’re the Queen and we will stumble through heaven.

I Walk the Line: A great song, especially again keeping in mind the full concept, which I believe illustrates crossing the ‘line’ out of the badlands. It’s admittedly not my favorite on the album, but I’ve come to accept that everything she touches is going to be good. I would have almost preferred the album to end with Young God- not to exclude this one completely but for me, in my journey through the Badlands Young  God felt more fitting as an end. Although I’d love to chat about what this song particularly really means to Halsey and how she saw it in her Badlands universe.  Favorite Line: I find it very, very easy to be true. I find myself alone when each day is through.

Thank you for reading this long winded piece. New music coming to you Friday!