“We are the new Americana / High on legal marijuana / Raised on Biggie and Nirvana / We are the new Americana.”
Those are the lyrics to “New Americana” from Ashley Nicolette Frangipane’s debut album as Halsey — Badlands (out August 28 via Astralwerks). More than just “New Americana,” Halsey embodies an inviting boldness, appealing to the forward-thinking generation she represents.
Halsey, 20, sings with a teenage hopefulness, delivered confidently over scattered yet heavy electronic rock. Her lyrics are relatable in their sentiment but distant enough to remain aspirational for the listener. For example, on the chorus of “Hurricane,” from April’s Room 93 EP, she sings, “Don’t belong to no city, don’t belong to no man.”
She can’t be contained, so don’t bother trying. Sang with aplomb, the listener wants to join Halsey on her rebellious joyride, regardless of the destination.
Halsey’s music excels because of its ability to stir strong feelings. The hooks aren’t quite at “Wake Up” sing-along levels, but they recall the same sort of cathartic group-release. On “Ghost,” her most watched song on YouTube, the synths amplify for the final chorus for Halsey to ask, “My ghost, where’d you go? … What happened to the soul you used to be?”
Halsey’s music does not literally inspire. She is not advocating that you follow your dreams. She is being herself, but that certainty is contagious.