25-year-old pop superstar Ashley Frangipane, or otherwise known as Halsey, has grown to receive an increased amount of stardom recently. Most of this comes from her heightened success of “Without Me” — a song which spent weeks and months at number one near the top of the Billboard charts. She even told Billboard last summer, “I’ve grown out of my internalized misogyny.”
“Female rage is a tight subject for me right now,” she continues. “I’m interested in female everything… I went from only wanting to hang out with boys to ‘I love women, they’re awesome.’” A key aspect of Halsey’s pop likability is her candid transparency and early openness to discussing her battles with bipolar disorder and a suicide attempt at 17. It’s this approach that millennials/Gen Z find so relatable. Last year, Halsey revealed to Rolling Stone that her upcoming LP would be her first written while in a manic state. It wasn’t until later that she would dub the album, Manic. The album hits nearly every note without seeming messy or otherwise, bad.
Unlike previous albums, Halsey says goodbye to her metaphorical devices. There is no Shakespearean allegory quite like Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, but instead these are stripped away and replaced with Halsey’s musical biopsy. She has ripped herself open and what ensues is clear, transparent pop music.
Early on, Halsey writes “I’m just a fucked up girl looking for my own piece of mind. Don’t assign me yours.” It’s on the opener, “Ashley.” Her internalized struggles continue on the sway piano chords in “Clementine” with the wicked opening line, “I’d like to tell you that my sky’s not blue, it’s violent rain.” It readies the listener for this marathon.
Despite the singer’s feminist rage-anthem “Nightmare” siding absent from Manic, it’s replaced with equivalent, internalized battleground songs. Genres? Those don’t exist. Not here, at least. “3am” delves into punk-pop as Halsey exclaims, “I don’t really know what to do with me” and “I really need a mirror that’ll come along and tell me that I’m fine.” And while the spacey cowboy-rock of “Finally / Beautiful Stranger” will definitely be your wedding song, other tracks such as “Killing Boys” and “You Should Be Sad” will make you resent your ex. Then there are the features with Alanis Morisette and BTS. Just like Halsey, this album isn’t defined by a preset rule bank. Halsey can’t be defined. That’s what makes her so great.