by Jennifer Villeda ’20 A&E Staff
On Jan. 17, Halsey released her third studio album titled Manic, after almost three years since her last album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.
During that time, Halsey collaborated with artists like Benny Blanco and Khalid for “Eastside” in July of 2018 and BTS for “Boy With Luv” in April of 2019. Also, she released a few singles that illustrated the direction her third album would be going in, such as “Without Me” in October 2018 and “Graveyard” in September 2019.
However, these singles could not encompass the beautiful mess awaiting fans on Manic’s release date. Fans were given a closer and more intimate look into her mind and all the facets of Ashley, the benchmark of Halsey and her manic side.
She emphasized in the intro to her Spotify playlist for Manic, “Halsey Presents Manic” that, “There is an ancient saying that you have three faces. The first one you broadcast to the world, the second one you show to those closest to you, and the last one you never show anyone.”
The album is an exploration of this manic side of her that is all over the place, or as Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone described, “a raw autobiographical portrait of the artist as a young mess, craving her share of love and tenderness in a hostile world.” This is not a story concept like Badlands or a cinematic feel like Hopeless Fountain Kingdom which was inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. It is Ashley’s story.
The album is a mix of different styles from soft, melancholic pop to country and rock to Korean rap. At first, it is confusing and very messy, which is why listening to just one or two songs from the album would not do it justice. This album must be heard in its entirety to follow her journey in navigating who she is and her place in the world.
From the first song of the album, “Ashley,” you see her trying to put herself first and questioning how she got in this situation to begin with. She inserts an audio clip towards the end from Michael Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where Kate Winslet’s character, Clementine, states, “Too many guys think I’m a concept, or / I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive” and she declares she is a woman “who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind / Don’t assign me yours.”
Then listeners get to a song like “3am” where she talks about being alone and struggling to find peace with herself, so she turns to other people to make herself feel better. She ends the album with a more positive tone in “929” where she summarizes what her 25 years of life have been like. As Stephen Daw wrote in Billboard, “Through all the pain and strife of Manic, Halsey’s ultimate realization is that she’s still a lost soul–but at least she has the pieces of a roadmap to guide her forward.”
Through this album, fans are given a more nuanced look into an artist they admire and love. Life is messy; to search for who you are is not easy and Ashley Frangipane, or “Halsey,” illustrates that like her fans, she too is still figuring out her life, and what to make of it.