In an already disgusting-feeling summer, Halsey, the feature in Chainsmokers smash-hit “Closer”, released her second atrocity album hopeless fountain kingdom. It’s a concept album that she states “tells the story of two people in love despite the forces trying to keep them apart” a la Romeo & Juliet. Except that… it doesn’t. If you listen very closely and squint so hard you strain yourself, you still won’t hear the supposed plot. It’s a lot like her first album Badlands. Badlands is supposed to be about a dystopian society surrounded by a desert wasteland, which is a metaphor for Halsey’s mind. What the album is actually about is a series of unrelated stories about no one in particular. So, once again, not a concept album. Halsey just calls them that. But why? It’s because no one takes her seriously, not that they should feel the need to.

Halsey, born Ashley Frangipane, became viral overnight in 2015 from her song “Ghost” off her Room 93 EP. However, people didn’t know her very well, so she became an easy target for jokes and snide remarks -especially once they saw her press photo, complete with an electric blue head of hair, a lime green streak creeping out from underneath that mess, and jewels bedazzled on the side of her face. Her debut album, like her voice, is vacant and whiny. She sings on that album with an unnatural folk twang that quickly made her a meme. It also didn’t help that she’s a Tumblr kid who thinks that her ideas are bigger and brighter than they actually are. Because of all of this, Halsey needed to fight heavily to be taken seriously as an artist. Thus, every album she makes are “concept albums,” even if they don’t actually reflect the concept.

I’ve sat through hopeless fountain kingdom multiple times and read analyses of the lyrics. But instead of trying to break it down for you, I’ll just tell you that the album is 50% relationship problems of a couple you won’t care about and 50% Halsey being vain as hell. And like its predecessor, there’s two good songs on the whole record.

But this isn’t even the real reason why she shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s that she doesn’t have any thoughts of her own. A lot of her first album is tricks out of Lana Del Rey’s handbook (the most egregious example being “Drive”, a Halsey song that shares a namesake with an iconic Lana Del Rey song). When that album doesn’t receive LDR comparisons, critics said Halsey copies Taylor Swift’s melodic styles. Oh, and her most popular song under her name? “Now or Never”? It’s literally Rihanna’s “Needed Me” with xx guitars. Halsey even has the same melismatic vocal in the chorus. What’s funny is that people realized this after her 2017 Billboard Music Awards performance where she sang the track in an outfit that Rihanna more or less wore two years ago. It’s one thing to egregiously sample an artist’s song when that artist is smaller than you and no one’s really going to notice, like she did on “Hold Me Down”. It’s another thing to try to take from artists who are bigger and better than you.

Halsey’s not a real artist, and she’s not even good at being a bad artist. She’s just good at connecting to massive audiences through social media. Sure, that’s an important skill to have in this age, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that she can’t create a quality piece of work to save her life. And it doesn’t mean you should call a scatterbrained slop pile a concept album.

 

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