One Friday in October, a few of my new friends from my dorm asked if anyone wanted to go to the Halsey concert at TD Garden, just a few hours before the show. I hadn't heard of Halsey or any of her music (besides her feature in Closer by The Chainsmokers, no one could escape that song for most of early 2017). The StubHub nose-bleeder seats were only $32USD, and I love concerts of all kinds, so we enthusiastically said YES! and went.
During the few hours before the concert, I listened to the Spotify This Is: Halsey playlist to get a feel for her music, and I immediately knew I was going to love her. Her unique voice and style of music caught my attention. I found myself saving nearly every song on the playlist!
The concert was amazing. Halsey's outfits, live singing voice, stage presence, and special effects were unlike most shows I've seen. I won't inundate this post with all the pictures I subjected my Instagram and Snapchat stories to, but I'll include a few.
Now on to the album, track by track: Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.
It starts with The Prologue, in which Halsey recites the prologue to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet over deep humming. I remember reciting the prologue of Romeo and Juliet in front of my seventh grade Language Arts class. It's a classic and unique piece of literature and the most well-known lines of the play. Halsey takes inspiration from the classic and paints the album as a scene of two "star-crossed lovers", creating characters and houses for the album's story, just as there are in the original Romeo and Juliet. She then sets the stage for the theme of the album, a walkthrough of a breakup in terms of a relationship, as well as with different elements of her life.
In 100 Letters, she proclaims she's "not something to butter up and taste when you get bored". This has slowly become one of my favorite songs on the album, because it's strong yet vulnerable at the same time. I can't believe I'm analyzing a song in the same way we analyzed poetry for years of High School English classes, but the imagery in the song is so vivid. She alludes to Greek mythology when saying "King Midas put his hands on me again", and then powerfully says "I don't let him touch me anymore". You can just see the story unfold in your mind.
Eyes Closed was the opening song of the concert. It was regal and exciting and the stage effects were amazing. The song is pretty straightforwardly about being in love with an ex while in a new relationship. Halsey has said The Weeknd contributed to the melody, and you can definitely hear those influences.
Heaven in Hiding is where the two characters Halsey has made up for the album notice each other, at a party. This track is one perspective of a party, while the next track is another perspective of the same party. I can vividly remember her performing this song, and I love the line "When you start to look at me, a physical fatality".
The fifth track, Alone is one of my friends' and my favorites from the album. Halsey has said Alone has The Great Gatsby vibes, referencing the fictional character Jay Gatsby from the American classic. It's from the perspective of a social butterfly who, despite constantly being surrounded by people and living a lavish life of entertainment, ultimately feels alone, just like Jay Gatsby. She says "Everywhere I go I got a million different people tryna kick it but I'm still alone in my mind". The beat and vocals in this song are very different from the rest of the album and I love it. Much of it is true to Halsey's life. She says "I got a new place in Cali but I'm gone every night, so I fill it with strangers so they keep on the lights". In this revealing Rolling Stones article, she reveals this is true about herself.
Now or Never is a single on the album that blew up in terms of radio plays. It's a catchy song with R&B vibes, and part of the longer recreated Romeo and Juliet narrative.
Sorry is a more slow, sad song that shows off her vocals in a piano ballad form. I will always remember the way TD Garden looked lit up in phone lights during this song. I've been to many concerts and seen similar things, but for some reason this one felt different. Here, she apologizes for allowing her insecurities to push people away, saying "I can sometimes treat the people that I love like jewellery, because I can change my mind each day, I never meant to try you on".
Good Mourning is an intermission of sorts, transitioning the mood of the album and perhaps switching perspectives. A child reads over a tinkering music box in an echo-y voice. Halsey then eerily repeats the same lines over and over, as the single piano key beat transitions into the next track titled...
Lie. This song features Quavo, and some pretty wittily crafted lyrics, particularly the first few lines. Halsey herself said that this song was one of the hardest to write, but also in her top 10, lyrically.
Walls Could Talk is probably the song that made me fall in love with Halsey's music. It's very reminiscent of early 2000s P!nk (think the Can't Take Me Home album), and that's not really a sound you hear too much of these days. Halsey cites Destiny's Child and old Britney Spears as influences for the song as well. At 1 minute 42 seconds, the song is super short but so amazing. I was so glad she performed it live; it was the song I was looking forward to hearing most. She refers to the album as a whole as a "cinematic hyperbole" of a past relationship and breakup. She says what actually happened is an argument in a taxi, but she'll write lines like "fist fight in a limousine". I think that's so artistic and clever.
Bad At Love is another single that has been playing everywhere. Halsey has performed it on many different shows in the past few months. She runs through different past loves and how she feels as if they all ended because of her faults.
Don't Play is another favorite among my friends (hi Hannah) and I. The performance of this song was great. Halsey and one of her dancers moved to a smaller center stage, set up like a boxing ring with coy fish circling each other, swimming in a hologram projected on the ring. When she stomped, real water sprayed the nearby audience. It was - sorry Mom - badass. The song is about moving on and feeling powerful and not letting anyone mess with you, as she repeats "Motherf*cker don't play with me". For some reason I really like the line "I am not the type to be out past dawn, tomorrow got a flight headed to Taiwan". When I actually have a flight headed to Taiwan (this winter break!!) I will for sure be bringing this back up.
Strangers features Lauren Jauregui, and Halsey describes it as an LGBTQ love song. At the concert, she actually said this too, and I thought that was very inclusive. Halsey is openly bisexual, and this is one of her first songs that explicitly uses female pronouns to describe the love interest, rather than her standard use of gender neutral pronouns that leaves the target of the song open to interpretation.
The deluxe version of the album features three more amazing songs, titled Angel on Fire, Devil in Me, and Hopeless. If you haven't heard any of Halsey's music before, I really recommend you checking this album out, there's something for everyone.