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Halsey’s hopeless fountain kingdom is a game changer

Halsey’s hopeless fountain kingdom is a game changer

About two years ago, we published an article that broke down the importance of Halsey to our generation–this was just after the release of her debut album Badlands, and we were loving her blue hair, her unique sound, and her unequivocal dedication to herself and her fans.

Nearly two years and several mega-hits later, Halsey has again made mark on the music industry, and on us. Having a bisexual, biracial young woman who is open about her personal struggles with mental illness and wears her scars as tattoos on her skin, is filling a void that we didn’t even know we were missing. So, naturally, hopeless fountain kingdom, breaks barriers as only Halsey can.


hopeless fountain kingdom (hfk) is a concept album, inspired in aesthetic by Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 film Romeo and Juliet, and in lyric by Shakespeare and her own experiences in life and love. The album is self produced, self written, and quite frankly, brilliant.

It opens with the “Romeo and Juliet” prologue delivered as a spoken word poem and segues into songs that are littered with lyrical symbolism, connections between songs, and builds a narrative. This is a narrative Halsey herself is super vocal about. Her music videos and all her interviews detail exactly how each song feeds into the general narrative–so I’m going to leave that to her, because what her songs are doing individually is also incredibly important.

The sound of hfk is signature Halsey, but departs from Badlands in its R&B vibes. Notably, “Don’t Play” and “Lie” (which features Quavo)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSSWDg6eZ1c

Halsey is also super transparent that this album was written in response to a breakup in which she lost herself. Anyone who has been in an unhealthy relationship–or even a good relationship that ended badly, can feel the power of lyrics found in songs like “100 Letters:”

I don’t let him touch me anymore

I said I’m not something to butter up and taste when you get bored

‘Cause I have spent too many nights on dirty bathroom doors

To find some peace and quiet right behind the wooden door

Most groundbreaking about this album is the representation of bisexuality throughout the album. Most notably, her current release, “Strangers,” features featuring Lauren Jareugi of Fifth Harmony, opens with:

She doesn’t kiss me on the mouth anymore

cause she thinks it’s more intimate

than she thinks we should get

she doesn’t look me in the eye anymore, too scared of what she’ll see

They performed this song together on the Today Show’s Citi Concert Series. To reiterate: two young, openly bisexual women sung a love song together on the Today’s show. The week before pride.

 

In, “Bad at Love,” Hasley sings solo about different romantic relationships going badly–in the first verse she sings of

a boy back home in Michigan

And it tastes like Jack when I’m kissing him

So I told him I never really liked his friends

Now he’s gone and he’s gone and he’s calling me a bitch again

In the second verse, she sings

“got a girl with California eyes

And I thought she could really be the one this time

But I never got the chance to make her mine

Because she fell in love with little thin white lines”

 

“Strangers” and “Bad at Love”  deal with different themes–love, lust, longing, guilt, secrecy, and are built on romances that aren’t exclusively heterosexual without the hyper sexualization that often comes with songs in popular music that express homosexual or bisexual relationships (like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” or Demi Lovato’s “Cool for the Summer”). Instead, Halsey is joining the ranks of artists like Tegan and Sara and Hayley Kiyoko, who openly sing about their non-heteronormative sexuality, showing both the unique turmoil that comes with being LGBT, but also reiterating that love is love–and heartbreak is heartbreak, no matter the sexual identity of the lovers involved.

So we’ll definitely stand by the fact that Halsey is a role model–but more importantly, she has become the voice of a generation. Halsey uses her platform to share her personal experience, refuses to back down, and is upfront about who she is. In doing so, she gives empowerment and visibility to a generation of millennials living in the midst of political and social constructs hell bent on making us as small as possible. Halsey shows us the magic that happens when women (and people) who fall outside of the “status quo” take the lead–and it’s pretty inspiring.

 

Olivia Howard

Olivia is a somewhat single twenty something living in New York City (ok, Brooklyn) and fresh off of completing her Master’s Degree in English Literature at NYU. She is the oldest of four and a Navy Brat. An Austen, Bronte, and Morrison devotee, you can most likely find her procrastinating by reading Harry Potter or trying to become motivated by channeling her inner Lorelai Gilmore (aka drinking too much coffee). Olivia prides herself on the simple fact that she cares a lot. About everything. All the time. And is currently trying to come to terms with the fact that being an adult is hard, Trump is President, and that racism is still a thing. Let's do what we can to make the world a little brighter friends. Thanks for reading.
Olivia Howard
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