Keeps getting better
Ashley Frangipane, or as she’s more famously known, Halsey, is an American singer-songwriter who popped onto the music scene in 2014 with her first EP Room 93. However, very few know of her original claim to fame back in 2012. As a teenager, Frangipane was a huge One Direction and Harry Styles fan and had quite the following as a fan account on both Tumblr and Twitter. She went viral when she made a parody cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” which she dubbed “The Haylor Song” and was about how Frangipane disliked Swift and felt that no one could love Styles the way she could. This cover spread like wildfire and was the catalyst to what later would be Halsey’s successful music career. Halsey’s had commercial success with feature tracks like “Closer” by The Chainsmokers and “Him & I” co-written with her former boyfriend rapper G-Eazy. More recently, she’s had plenty of radio play with her lead single “Without Me” and follow up single “Graveyard” from her newest album Manic.
Manic is Halsey’s third studio album and opens with self-titled track, “Ashley” which is a pretty tame song emphasized by her typical indie-style vocals and somber tone. The melancholic vibe is continued with “Clementine” which also has a simple melody, but manages to be quite catchy, and displays Halsey’s improving vocals and some unique harmonies that showcase Avril Lavigne pop-punk influence. More Avril influence can be heard on “3am” with its early 2000s punk feel and angry, fun melody. “I Hate Everybody” is similar in its simplicity yet enthralling nature and brings in an element of relatability with lyrics like “And really I could fall in love with anybody/ who don’t want me, so I just keep saying/ I hate everybody/ but maybe I, maybe I don’t.”
“Graveyard” is one of the singles off the album and is clearly deserving of its popularity, with it’s well-written, unique lyrics such as “You can think again/ when the hand you wanna hold/ is a weapon and/ you’re nothin’ but skin” and “I would’ve followed all the way no matter how far/ I know when you go down all your darkest roads/ I would’ve followed all the way to the graveyard” accompanied by an infectious beat that makes it easily stick in your head all day. The other single, “Without Me” is equally haunting and moody and has also earned its rank as a well-rounded pop jam.
In an ironic twist, it seems songs “You should be sad” and “Finally // beautiful stranger” are an ode to her musical beginnings and sound incredibly reminiscent of early Taylor Swift, soft acoustic heartbreak songs with a catchy country flare. Other artists that seemed to have influenced the album are Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles, specifically on track “Forever…(is a long time)” which is a short piano ballad with sad and slightly witty lyrics like “weightless, breathless restitute/ motionless and absolute/ you cut me open/ sucked the poison from an aging wound/ now, 50,000 war cadets/ would cower at this small brunette.”
Halsey ends the album on a reflective note with track “929” which is a brief breakdown of what she feels her life has been so far and the emotions that go along with it, all to the tune of a quick, low melody.
Manic manages to be Halsey’s most particular yet universally appealing project to date. It’s a true testament to how she’s grown as a vocalist, as a writer and as an artist. There were a few tracks that fell flat or felt unremarkable, like some of the interludes. However, most songs were great examples of what pop music should be: memorable. Her industry connections matched with her raw potential make it evident Halsey can have a long-lasting and successful career if she continues to play her cards right.