Halsey: America's New Alt-Pop Queen?

A review of the artist’s sophomore album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.

On June 2nd, Halsey released her second studio album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Seeing as she's one of my favorite artists, I was extremely excited when she started releasing social media teasers pertaining to the Romeo + Juliet theme of the album. One of the things that makes her such an incredible artist is her continual usage of themes and concepts in each of her records, all containing their own characters that tie the songs together piece by piece.

First Thoughts: I am physically trembling with excitement as I write this! It’s so amazing that she's introducing her album like a piece of literature, telling you the story of the album in a Shakespeare-esque manner.
Favorite Lyric: “Hands so bloody, tastes like honey”
Review: It's hard to stay unbiased since I can already tell I'm going to like this album! This song is more spoken word than it is musical, but regardless, it’s very nice. The vocals are super weird! They're reminiscent of a dystopian novel.
Rating: 5.7/10

First Thoughts: I've actually already heard a brief snippet of this song on the Hopeless Fountain Kingdom website. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but re-listening to it, this track is actually extraordinary! The intro is comparable to 1980’s pop, almost like a Wham! song or a Billy Ocean song.
Favorite Lyrics: “I said, ‘I’m not something to butter up and taste when you get bored”
Review: Really focus on the lyrics when you listen to this song. It's clear that Halsey wrote this song from the heart and based off of personal experience, rather than coming off as "fake deep." "100 Letters" screams, “Hey! You don’t own me anymore! I am my own person and we are through.” The track itself is self-empowering, discussing everything its narrator discovers once she is no longer blinded by love.
Rating: 7.6/10

First Thoughts: I'd already heard this song as well, seeing as it was released prior to the album's debut. It has a very soft vibe to it and then BOOM! The chorus hits you and it’s extremely powerful.
Favorite Lyric: “Now if I keep my eyes closed, he looks just like you”
Review: I personally don’t really like this song, but I do appreciate it. It’s a fantastic song-- just not my style. I think it’s a little too boring and repetitive for my taste. I will say that I enjoy the chorus a lot.
Rating: 4.3/10

First Thoughts: I LOVE the title of this song. It's very different than the stereotypical Halsey song. Super cool, though.
Favorite Lyric: “A crimson headache, aching blush”
Review: As a listener, I can feel the fear in this song and that excites me a lot. This song contrasts nicely with the rest of the album and it really stands out above its counterparts.
Rating: 6.5/10

First Thoughts: This track reminds me of Panic! at the Disco's Death of a Bachelor. It has a Great Gatsby vibe to it as well. It's impossible to listen to this song and not want to dance around in your room. My favorite part is the intro!
Favorite Lyric: “Baby, as soon as you meet me, you’ll wish that you never did”
Review: This record is phenomenal, and "Alone" is my favorite track. It really makes me feel something! It’s the type of song that you can play while driving around with your friends!
Rating: 9/10

First Thoughts: When this single was first released, it was so different from her other music that I absolutely despised it. I've grown to love it, though. The music video and its Romeo + Juliet parallels definitely encouraged me to like this song more.
Favorite Lyric:“Never pick up, never call me, you know we runnin’ out of time”
Review: "Now or Never" possesses a very different sound. I just can’t get over it! The introduction starts off so firm, a mixture of anger and resignation. I’m not really sure how to describe this, but I really love the way Halsey says certain words in this song like “around.” I think it’s just her accent kicking in, but it really makes me like the track overall.
Rating: 8.2/10

First Thoughts: From the first piano chord, I could tell this song was going to be melancholy. This song is really deep and speaks to me on a personal level. Halsey really hits where it hurts most with this song, but she did it in the right way.
Favorite Lyric: “Sorry that I can’t believe that anybody ever really starts to fall in love with me”
Review: Halsey hasn’t ever made a very obviously sad song like this. Most of her music is sad, but it always has an upbeat melody that makes you want to dance. She talks about all the people she could’ve had cool relationships with but never gave the time of day because her own insecurities held her back.
Rating: 8/10

First Thoughts: This track serves as an intermission, talking about the world of HFK. It definitely reminds me of Coraline.
Favorite Lyric: “A city where the streets fill with milk and honey”
Review: This song is about Halsey's character, Luna, and Romeo's death. It's very cool and creepy.
Rating: 6.6/10

First Thoughts: I honestly don’t like this one. It has a cool, overpowering vibe, but I just personally don’t really like it.
Favorite Lyric: “I watch you devour, mistake me for bread”
Review: I would probably like this song if someone else took Quavo’s place for the feature or if it just was Halsey alone. Quavo's vocals don’t blend well with Halsey’s, and it’s just really not my cup of tea.
Rating: 2/10

First Thoughts: This one really shocked me. It’s quick and beautiful.
Favorite Lyric: “Here we go, fist fight in a limousine, but they don’t know”
Review: I think this song really shows how much talent and strength Halsey really possesses. This track has some of the best instrumentals and synths on the album and I think that really expresses Halsey as a person, and her music as a whole.
Rating: 9.5/10

First Thoughts: The background vocals kind of sound like "Hurricane" (a song from Halsey's first EP, Room 93). This girl's vocals seriously never disappoint.
Favorite Lyric: “Got a girl with California eyes”
Review: Lyrically, Halsey is expressing her bisexuality a lot in this specific song. It features very fast-paced singing, which is exactly as wonderful and beautiful as I would have expected. Halsey held her high notes at the start of the chorus so well, and it makes me so proud of how far she has come vocally.
Rating: 7.7/10

First Thoughts: This song is such a rebellious anthem-- I could listen to it for hours! The steel drums in the intro remind me of "Under The Sea" from The Little Mermaid.
Favorite Lyric: “Lookin’ as fine as a damn Monet”
Review: I adore this song. It’s very abstract and different from the rest of the album and has a very nice flow to it. I feel like it could be the theme song for the Aureum House, which is supposed to be Luna/Romeo’s house. I absolutely love the beat drop in the chorus.
Rating: 7/10

First Thoughts: I'm not really sure how to feel about this one. It’s a good song, but not one of my favorites on the album.
Favorite Lyric: “She doesn’t kiss me on the mouth anymore, ‘cause she thinks it’s more intimate than she thinks we should get”
Review: I really like that Halsey thoroughly expresses her sexuality in this song by using strictly female pronouns. The lyrics are well-written with lots of depth.
Rating: 5.8/10

First Thoughts: "Angel On Fire" sounds very much like Halsey’s Badlands era, or even her song "Control." The intro to this song is very eerie and that’s what makes it so cool.
Favorite Lyric: “I used to be a darling starlet like a centerpiece”
Review: I feel like this song is about the period in Halsey's life between when she wrote Room 93 and Badlands. This song could also be about her mental illness and struggles with bipolar disorder. The song goes back and forth between her wanting to be the center of attention and not wanting anyone to remember her at all. This track serves as a self-reflection, speaking the truth about how she feels about her own image. Although very self-deprecating, "Angel on Fire" utilizes stunning instrumentals and has a lot of weird, new sounds such as the synths at the beginning.
Rating: 7.8/10

First Thoughts: The first word that comes to mind is "angelic," which is ironic since the song is called "Devil In Me."
Favorite Lyric: “But I scream too loud if I speak my mind”
Review: There's a clear parallel between the title ("Devil In Me") and the lyric from "Hold Me Down" that says, “He’s got me down on both knees, but it’s the devil that’s trying to hold me down." I think this song was meant to be towards people who always bash her. Some of the lyrics, mainly in the pre-chorus, give away the idea that she is “never good enough." This is a very passionate song, in part due to its rough emotion.
Rating: 8/10

First Thoughts: "Hopeless" is a very calming track compared to the rush of the rest of the songs on the album. The background instrumentals remind me of a Nintendo game.
Favorite Lyric: "Cause you know the truth hurts, but secrets kill”
Review: I could fall asleep to this song-- in a good way, of course! It’s very mellow and calm, even though the lyrics are obviously not. It’s unique to end an album on such a soft note. The instrumentals by Cashmere Cat fit Halsey’s tone perfectly, especially for the vibe of this song.
Rating: 6.8/10

This album is a work of art. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom shows just how much Halsey has progressed as a musician, still staying true to her artistry. HFK is at topping the charts for a reason: it is a masterpiece. I am incredibly proud of Halsey and how hard she has worked to get where she is today. If you haven’t already, I urge you to go give this album some love.

By Rally Telano

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