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"You were red, and you liked me 'cause I was blue..."

"I will never be anything but honest."
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Ashley Nicolette Frangipane (born September 29, 1994), better-known by her stage name Halsey, is an American singer/songwriter specializing in alt-pop. Astralwerks signed her based on the strength of the single she posted on Soundcloud, "Ghost", which would go on to be one of her most popular songs. She sings "songs about sex and being sad". After the release of her EP, Halsey quickly gained a young set of fans through her candid attitude, her liberal sociopolitical views, and her raw, provocative, often profane lyrical style.

She co-headlined with Young Rising Sons in 2015, and then played as an opening act for Imagine Dragons' Smoke + Mirrors tour. Her rapid rise to success led her to a solo tour in September 2015. In 2016, she collaborated with The Chainsmokers on their song "Closer", which became a huge #1 hit almost immediately after it was released.

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Discography

  • Room 93 (EP) (2014)
  • BADLANDS (2015)
  • hopeless fountain kingdom (2017)
  • MANIC (January 2020)

Her work provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alone in a Crowd: "Alone" echoes this, along with feelings of inadequacy that come with being people's idol.
    Everywhere I go, I got a million different people tryna kick it, but I'm still alone in my mind
  • Alter-Ego Acting: A minor case. Her stage persona is simply a condensed, dramatized version of her.
    "So what I think I explain is that Halsey is an anagram for Ashley, so if you rearrange Ashley, you get Halsey, and I think the difference is more than spelling. It's like, if you rearrange me a little you get Halsey. It's not so much an alter ego as it is an amplified version of me. Ashley's like, 'What kind of fucking cereal do I like in the morning?' Ashley is "did I remember to call my mom today?" Ashley is if I lose my mail key.[...] When I'm sitting here, talking about what fucking shoes I like, or what makeup I wear, that's Ashley. Halsey is a protagonist."
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  • Ambiguously Brown: Though she doesn't really look it at all, she's mixed race (Caucasian mother, African-American father). In late 2018 she spent a few months growing her hair out (when long, it's the most visible indicator of her ethnicity) and was promptly accused of cultural appropriation by people who didn't know she's half-black.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "Hurricane".
    ''I'm a wanderess, I'm a one-night stand
    Don't belong to no city, don't belong to no man
    I'm the violence in the pouring rain-I'm a hurricane.''
    Do you call yourself a fuckin' hurricane like me?
    • Used again in "Control":
    ''I'm bigger than my body, I'm colder than this home
    I'm meaner than my demons, I'm bigger than these bones
    And all the kids cried out, "Please stop, you're scaring me
    I can't help this awful energy
    God damn right, you should be scared of me.''
    We feared no city and we feared no man.
    • Used in "Heaven in Hiding":
    "And when you start to look at me, a physical fatality
    And you surrender to the heat, you'll know
    I can put on a show, I can put on a show"
  • Break-Up Song:
    • "Ghost" is about a relationship in which one partner is no longer emotionally invested.
    • "Sorry" is a I Want My Beloved to Be Happy-type version sung by someone apologizing to a lover they treated badly as they're leaving.
      Someone will love you, but someone isn't me.
    • "killing boys" is about an unfaithful ex-boyfriend.
    • "You Should Be Sad" is one of the "I'm so glad you're gone" variety, even saying, "I'm so glad I never, ever had a baby with you!"
  • Brick Joke:: In the spoken word opening to "929," Halsey talks with her producer, and claims she was born at 9:29 on 9/29. He says he wants to see the birth certificate... and at the end of the song, we hear Halsey talking again. Turns out, she checked her birth certificate, and she was born at 9:26.
    Man, I'm a fucking liar.
  • Call-Back: In "929", she recalls losing her lover to a drug addiction. In the 2017 track “Bad At Love,” Halsey sings of a blue-eyed woman whom she loved, but lost due to cocaine use.
    Halsey: Lost the love of my life to an ivory powder.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: A downplayed example in her "Colors" music video.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
    • "Strange Love" features ten uses in just over four minutes, emphasized by Halsey's forceful delivery of the song.
    • "Don't play" manages to fit five uses in just the chorus alone.
  • Concept Album: All of them. BADLANDS is about a Vegas-gothic metaphor for her negative mental state. hopeless fountain kingdom is a play on Romeo and Juliet. Even Room 93 is themed around the strange, pocket-universe feel of hotel rooms.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: "Eastside" is a duet between Halsey and Khalid, with Khalid singing the first verse and Halsey the second. Halsey performed the song solo on Saturday Night Live, singing both verses and implicitly changing the relationship referenced in the first verse from a heterosexual to a lesbian one.
  • Cover Changes The Meaning: Her rendition of "I Walk the Line", altering a country song about being faithful in a relationship to an unsettling alternative tune implying the speaker is stuck with a particular lover, even addicted to them.
  • Crapsack World: The titular "Badlands" in her debut album. She describes the place as an urban-sprawl dystopia, representative of a negative mental state.
  • Dead Sparks: "Lie".
    Breakfast is cold, as cold as our bed.
  • Descent into Addiction: Not her, but a former lover mentioned in "Bad At Love":
    Had a girl with California eyes and I thought that 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.
  • Destructive Romance: "Without Me" and "Graveyard" details of an unhealthy relationship between the protagonist and her lover. Luckily, she realizes what a bad place she's in and how irreparable the relationship with said toxic person is and breaks it off to start looking after herself.
  • Dominatrix: In the music video for "Nightmare", one of her outfits is a latex fetish costume.
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: In "Alone", Luna returns to the Hopeless Fountain Kingdom to find Solis at a party but is heartbroken and confused to find that he has already found a new lover, with long blue hair similar to Luna previous to her transformation.
  • Dye or Die: In "Now Or Never" Luna has to change her appearance so her attackers won't find her. So she chops off her long blue hair and dyes it blonde.
  • Fading into the Next Song: The song "Drive" fades and then continues into the next song "Coming Down".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Halsey sings about a past lover's addiction in "Bad At Love" and uses clever metaphors to hide what substance it was.
    But I never got the chance to make her mine, because she fell in love with little thin white lines.
    • In Alanis' Interlude:
    Eatin' my dessert in the bathroom.
  • Get Back in the Closet: Speaks about the phenomenon here after getting significant backlash from Moral Guardians over her redo of the "Ghost" video, which featured a romance between her and her female co-star.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The Spoken Word opening to the "Ghost" video, roughly translating to "As I look back at the past together with her, suddenly she starts to disappear. Maybe she never really existed."
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: "Luna", the protagonist of hopeless fountain kingdom.
    Out alone in San Tropez, lookin' as fine as a damn Monet
    Tryna hydrate, no Perrier; everybody thirsty, drinks on me
  • Heel Realization: In "Graveyard" followed with a GASP.
    It's funny how the warning signs can feel like they're butterflies... (GASP).
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Referenced in "Ghost".
    I don't like 'em innocent, I don't want no face-fresh
    Want them wearing leather, begging "Let me be your taste-test.
  • Heroic Seductress: The narrator in "Hurricane".
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: "Sorry" is a particularly bleak instance of this trope and possibly the bleakest thing Halsey committed to tape; the song is an apology for how she can't make her significant other (or anyone) happy, because her mental struggles and insecurities always get in the way.
    Someone will love you
    But someone isn't me
  • Intercourse with You: To be expected, as a lot of her songs are about sex.
    When you start to feel the rush, the crimson headache, aching blush and you surrender to the touch, you'll know
    I can put on a show, I can put on a show. Don't you see what you're finding? This is heaven in hiding. I'm heaven in hiding.
  • In Love with Love: The narrator of "I HATE EVERYBODY."
    Infatuation's observation with a cause.
    But none of it is love, so while I'm waiting for it,
    I'll hate everybody!
  • Important Haircut: At the end of the "Now or Never" video. She chops off her long blue locks into a shirt blonde spiked haircut.
  • Lady Swears-a-Lot: Barely a song of hers is devoid of profanity, with a Precision F-Strike occurring very frequently.
  • La Résistance: The "New Americana" video features her leading one.
    They made me their leader when I never asked to be. The lightning in their eyes molded me into whatever they needed me to become. We were hopeful we would win, because nothing could scare us.
  • Lecherous Licking: From the smirk she's wearing at the end of this clip, she knows what she's doing.
  • Likes Older Men: One of the plot twists in the music video for Halsey's "Colors".
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: According to Word of God, the main theme of MANIC is that she's found herself falling into this role in her real life relationships, and wants somebody who won't expect her to constantly entertain them and disrupt their lives.
  • Melismatic Vocals: "Everything is blu-uuu-uuuuu-uu-e".
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Averages around a 7.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Rarely higher than a 3, though there are exceptions, like "Nightmare" which jumps up to a 5.
  • Oblivious to Love: In "Strangers", both narrators feel more for the other than just a friends-with-benefits type of relationship, but neither realizes her feelings are shared.
  • Precision F-Strike: In "Young God":
    If you wanna go to Heaven, you should fuck me tonight.
    • Twice in "Gasoline":
    Just to pour that motherfucker down the drain like me?
    Do you call yourself a fuckin' hurricane like me?
  • Protest Song:
    • "New Americana" is about, in her words, a "generation unafraid of diversity".
    • And "Castle", the first song on her debut album, addresses her irritation with the Double Standard expectations living in a patriarchal social mandates.
  • Rearrange the Song: For the soundtrack to The Huntsman: Winter's War, "Castle" was given a new, more cinematic arrangement.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • "Without Me" is one of these directed at someone that Halsey helped who then ditched her for fame and glory at the first opportunity they got, reminding them Halsey is the one who "put [them] up there" and asking if they're lonely pretending that they can live without her.
    • "You Should Be Sad" is directed at an unnamed ex-lover, calling him faithless, manipulative, and incapable of selflessly loving another, which is why she's glad that she chose not to have a baby with him and dumped him instead.
  • Revenge Ballad: "Castle", is, according to Word of God, about Revenge Against Men.
    I'm headed straight for the castle
    They wanna make me their queen
    And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's saying
    That I prob'ly shouldn't be so mean
  • Sanity Slippage Song: Given that her debut album focused on a fictional city meant to represent her former negative headspace, it's not surprising that it features a couple of these, most notably "Control".
  • Screw Yourself: Not in a literal sense, but the girl she's making out with in the "Ghost" video is intentionally made up to look like her-same clothes, same hair, similar proportions, to emphasize the confusion of what she represents.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Alluded to in the track "Alanis' Interlude". Singing out how she and another female classmate must hook up in private while attending high school together.
  • Sequel Song: "Colors, Pt. II".
  • Sex for Solace: "Strangers" is about a rebound romance she had while trying to get over a long-term boyfriend. Ironically, the lyrics make it clear that both girls feel more for the other than just this, but neither will admit it because they believe the other doesn't care.
    We're not lovers, we're just strangers with the same damn hunger to be touched, to be loved, to feel anything at all
    • On the same album, "I find myself alone at night, unless I'm having sex" from "Eyes Closed".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Significant Anagram: Her stage name is her real given name with a couple of letters switched around.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: The narrator of "I HATE EVERYBODY" admits to using a cynical attitude to mask her loneliness and desire for love.
    If I could make you love me,
    maybe you could make me love me.
    And if I can't make you love me,
    then I'll just hate everybody.
  • Spoken Word in Music:
    • The fan-favorite lyric in "Colors":
    You were red, and you liked me because I was blue. You touched me, and suddenly I was a lilac sky, and you decided purple just wasn't for you.
    • Hopeless Fountain Kingdom's first track, The Prologue, has Halsey speaking the entirety of Shakespeare's Prologue for Romeo and Juliet.
    • In "929", she reveals in the spoken monologue of the song that the song is titled after her birthday.
    Halsey: I really was born at 9:29 AM on 9/29. You think I'm lying, but I'm, I'm being dead serious (I gotta see this birth certificate). Okay, I'll prove it.
    • "Good Mourning" has Halsey's little brother, Dante, speaking the entire intro.
  • Stacy's Mom: The music video for Halsey's "Colors" centers around Halsey's character getting along with Tyler Posey's character and his parents and its seems everything is fine. Until the reveal shows that she's actually in love with Posey's father which he discovers through her Polaroids and he reacts in disgust.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: In the "Ghost" video.
  • Vice City: "Those are the Badlands. We don't go there."
  • Whole Album Reference: hopeless fountain kingdom, to Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Unusually for her genre, she implies that she's the Other Woman in "Is There Somewhere".
      ''You're writing lines about me; romantic poetry.
      Your girl's got red in her cheeks 'cause we're something she can't see.
      And I try to refrain, but you're stuck in my brain
      And all I do is cry and complain, because second's not the same.''
    • Implied in "Hopeless":
    "Boy, you make it look so simple, mm
    Yeah, I've known that girl for like my whole life
    Back in my hotel and I'm alone inside, oh"
    • The song "Without Me".
  • Wham Shot: When Halsey performed the song "Without Me" on Saturday Night Live, a banner appeared behind her spell out like a letter "Dear Ashley...I'm sorry...I cheated." in alludes to her on-off relationship with musician/rapper G-Eazy. Also quite Tearjerking.

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