A Beginner’s Guide to… Halsey

Emmanuelle Soffe examines the beautiful darkness of Halsey

Photo: Wikimedia commons

Halsey emerges in the midst of an age of cheap and soulless pop, when it becomes easy to forget what it feels like to experience a real musical personality.

The problem with popular music is that it dwells too lightly on sex, love and heartbreak without ever delving into the deeper meanings of these topics. Halsey’s lyrics dwell on heartbreak of the most shattering kind, is not afraid to describe and talk about sex in the way that a lot of popular singers will only allude to (‘with his educated eyes, and his head between my thighs’), will sing about drugs and their effects and the destructive reality of mental health problems (‘Do you tear yourself apart, just to entertain, like me?’).

There is a vivid husky reality to her words that can cut straight through you, stripping back lingering social and cultural stigmas and read, frankly, like poetry of the rawest kind. (‘Are you insane like me? Been in pain like me? Bought a hundred dollar bottle of champagne like me? Just to pour that motherfucker down the drain like me.’) The awful energy to her songs can leave you shaken, and ready to reconsider everything that you’ve ever believed in. There is something refreshing about her darkness; it boasts of strength and contempt for the traditional and the established; an aggressive declaration of her total freedom from sexual, social and self constraint.

Halsey tears herself apart within her own lyrics, reveals more about the complex, conflicting reality of the human condition than perhaps any singer from this generation. Finally, we have found something real.