“Badlands” achieve lyrical masterpiece


“Badlands” is the debut album by singer-songwriter Halsey, released this past August. While during the initial writing process Halsey meant the album to portray the concept of a dystopian society, she later realized that the songs she was writing more reflected her mental state during the time and how fame was affecting her.

Halsey’s vocals on this album are very reminiscent to those of Lorde’s, and at various points during the album I would forget that it was indeed Halsey. Overall, this album is very electropop. Whereas most albums have a variety of genres spanning its entirety, “Badlands” maintains this heavy-beat, electropop sound. It is also very dark in tone, despite the electropop genre, with some upbeat portions; keeping in mind that ‘up’ is not synonymous with happy. A downfall, however, is that a lot of this album feels and sounds very much the same. There are points on the album where two or three songs in a row sound the same, which momentarily halted my enjoyment.

I admire Halsey’s vocal delivery on much of this album, in particular on tracks like “Hold Me Down” and “Gasoline.” However, as previously stated, a lot of the songs on this album sound the same in terms of vocals, which is too bad because Halsey sounds like someone that can do a lot with her voice. But as listeners, we don’t hear a lot of vocal variety from song to song. This is not to say that the songs cannot be enjoyed for this reason. I was able to enjoy each track to some degree. For example, I don’t believe I ever thought once during the entire album that I didn’t like a certain track. But, variety would have enhanced my enjoyment so much more.

My highest praise goes to the lyrical content. Though the lyrics are all sung in much of the same manner, the lyrics themselves are some of the best I’ve heard. If one were to judge this album purely on lyrics, “Badlands” would be an instant classic.

The opening track, “Castle,” has one of the most original uses for metaphors of fame, referring to fame as a kingdom (in negative context, of course; she does not want to be a part of this kingdom).

Halsey’s use of imagery on this album is also impeccable. For instance, on “Colors,” on top of a strong chorus, as the title suggests, colors play a huge part of this song; a different color to represent a different person and how their intermingling changes the color of another. Halsey’s lyrics, I believe, are a very rare achievement in that they all have very deep meaning without sounding incredibly cheesy. Her lyrics evoke many emotions, ranging from happiness to sadness to anger. I cannot give her enough acclaim to her lyrics.

I believe that this is one of the best albums so far this half of 2015. While the songs may sound repetitious at times, Halsey has achieved something rare as a songwriter. “Hold Me Down” and “Roman Holiday” are instantly enjoyable tracks. It’s a highly emotional album, and I do recommend listening, even if you’re not into electropop.