Tracey: May I present before the Picksherry Family the acclaimed bisexual and biracial singer Halsey, also known as Ashley Nicolette Frangipane! From her “Room 93” EP, all the way through her debut full length “Badlands,” to her soaring, chart-topping “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom”!
Let’s start with “Ghost”!
Trent: Hot chick, decent music. Cherry!
Tracey: How about “New Americana”! (High on Legal Marijuana! Raised on Biggie and Nirvana!)
Grandpa Felicius: I can’t figure out if “New Americana” is meant an anthem or a sly indictment? Is she BRAGGING that she can get mildly drugged up without suffering any inconvenient consequences now that a former taboo has been normalized? Why, if I am alive it is only due to the endless variety of propulsive, illegal, extremely questionable chemicals that are surging through my systems while I write these very words!
Trent: Here comes the 5:15 pill train, Grandpa Felicius!
Grandpa Felicius: Yes! More! Bring in the morphine! I must be the new Americana as well! Where was I? Right. “Raised on Biggie and Nirvana.” Is Halsey PROUD of the fact that she was “raised” by an obese dope-peddler who was shot down by his enemies at the age of 24? Or is she RESIGNED to the fact that she was “raised” by an incoherent, mumbling junkie who shot himself down at the age of 27 when faced with the intolerable prospect of life as a respectable, successful, beloved millionaire? Or is she DISAPPOINTED about these things? It is genuinely hard to tell how she feels about it, especially since her music owes no sonic debt to either Biggie Smalls or Kurt Cobain.
Tracey: Hmmm, how about we listen to “Colors”?
Hank: Tracey, kiddo, have I ever told you how much I appreciate that your hairstyle stays fairly consistent, so I can recognize you on a daily basis? I can’t figure out what this Halsey even looks like. She has a pink wig one moment, she has a green wig the next. Blue curls, then she’s a brunette with bangs. Here she’s a blonde with tresses. There! She’s gone and shaved her head. She’s like a really inept spy in that she remembered to make herself unrecognizable, but forgot to make herself inconspicuous.
Beatricia: In her second album, “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” (excuse me, hopeless fountain kingdom, lowercase), Halsey makes a conceptual Shakespearean promise (she opens with the prologue from “Romeo and Juliet”) and then fails to deliver right away. “100 Letters” starts with a King Midas reference! What happened to Romeo and Juliet? The only concept she’s really allowed herself to tackle is further commercialization.
Tracey: It’s a subtle concept about a kingdom of star-crossed lovers with different hair color! Inspired by Baz Luhrmann! You have to watch all the videos and read the liner notes and visit her webpage and follow her on Instagram to REALLY get the whole picture!
Beatricia: No thanks.
Cousin Franz: Halsey is youthful and beautiful so she has a conflicted relationship with her own persona as a performer. She doesn’t want her considerable good looks and exuberant bisexuality to be the center of attention, but at the same time she can not help but flaunt both, given that they are such salient marketable assets. Her mercurial hair-do changes are not as interesting to us as they are to herself, and they are unconnected to her music, which is straight-ahead modern electronic pop. (By that, I mean the ubiquitous sound where a billion bloops and bleeps are scattered like fairy dust over the mag-pied nest that is home to Sia and Lorde and Ellie Goulding and Lana Del Rey and Tove Lo and Banks and etc etc etc.) Sia even contributes to “hopeless fountain kingdom,” as does The Weeknd. Lead single “Now Or Never” is ripped from Rihanna’s “Needed Me,” and this can’t even be leveled as a criticism: the songs share co-writers. Too many rulers in this kingdom. Halsey DOES have the captivating stage personality, so what happens to her as she achieves true individuality may yet surprise us. It really depends on whether she remembers to fully establish who she is, and then depart from that into something else. Embracing real change means accepting that the self is behaving in ways that are no longer productive, and those ways must be derailed and then re-aligned into alternative behaviors that will result in changes that are dramatic and not wispily cosmetic.
Blurbarella: “Propulsive– Extremely– Respectable– Performer. Marketable— Electronic Pop.”
3 Out of 6 Cherries