Halsey’s “Manic” Lives Up To Its Title

Pitchfork.com

Danielle Dentremont, Online Managing Editor

On Jan. 17, Halsey released her third studio album titled “Manic.” The album lacks a definitive genre with undertones of pop-rock, electropop, hip hop and more. Such a nebulous blend of sounds suits Halsey well, as she truly intended for her third album to be nothing less of manic. 

To kick start her album, Halsey released the hit “Without Me” over a year before the entirety of the album was released. “Without Me” climbed the charts to secure the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, which marked Halsey’s first number-one single as a lead artist. Juice WRLD, a rapper who recently passed away, collaborated with Halsey on a remix of “Without Me” to further popularize her newest hit at the time. Mirroring Taylor Swift’s trademark of embedding messages in her music videos, Halsey also alluded to her new album in a music video for her song, “Nightmare,”  in which she reads a newspaper with the word “MANIC” glaring at viewers.

The tone of “Manic” began to manifest as Halsey staggered the release of five more singles: “Graveyard,” “clementine,” “Finally // beautiful stranger,” “SUGA’s Interlude” and “you should be sad.” “Graveyard” is anomalous to the remainder of her album as it zeroes in on her desperation to be a part of another person’s life, whereas Halsey’s other songs focus on her own worldview and a discovery of self-worth. Similarly, “clementine”—which was released only about two weeks after “Graveyard”—also hints at Halsey’s dependence on others, despite her envisionment of a place where she is seven feet tall. Peculiarly, “SUGA’s Interlude” delves into the intangibly complex notions of pride and confidence, which would be unclear to most listeners considering that parts of the song are sung in Korean. Of these singles, “you should be sad” is the anthem that listeners will find themselves singing all day long. Rumors are swirling about the song being about Halsey’s ex-boyfriend, G-Eazy, to whom she—allegedly—gives a final goodbye and disparages him for attempting to heal his heart with “money, drugs and cars.” 

The first track on “Manic” is “Ashley,” which seems to be a song of self-appreciation as Halsey’s real name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. With electronic dance music throughout, this song feeds well into the manic theme that Halsey intended to cultivate throughout her album. Eerily, Halsey sings about wanting to be more than a girl in America fighting the world’s hysteria and, evocatively, deems the heart to be a muscle that is not strong enough to carry the weight of her choices. The album has many instances of poetically spoken words; yet, the closing of “Ashley” is most thought-provoking as Halsey yearns to be more than a concept to others.

The eighth track, “3am,” radiates Avril Lavigne vibes as Halsey vents about her angst regarding the loneliness in the early hours of the morning during which she has no one to rely on. Closing out the album, “Still Learning” and “929” adopt a more optimistic tone that contrasts with the pain that Halsey expresses in “3am” and “you should be sad.” Track 14,“Still Learning,” heartwarmingly delineates Halsey’s character progression as she concedes that she—as a human—has regrets, but notes that she is embarking on loving herself. Finally, “929” immediately marks its significance by illuminating that Halsey was born on Sept. 29 and outlines her life’s journey via whimsical sounds and personal anecdotes. 

“Manic” has a lot to offer in terms of diversity of music and poignant meanings behind the lyrics. As a young and relatively new artist, Halsey certainly has much more in store for her fans in the future. However, for now, “Manic” will satisfy—if not pleasantly surprise—listeners with ethereal undertones that suit Halsey’s intergalactic album cover.