Halsey’s third album Manic was released on January 17th, 2020 and is possibly her greatest one yet. Throughout her career, Halsey has been extremely open about her life and mental illness. She has suffered from bipolar disorder her entire life and was diagnosed when she was just 17. As a way of coping, Halsey turned to writing poetry, and eventually songs which lead to her big break. Halsey’s new album marks a milestone for her music, for unlike her past albums, Badlands and Hopeless Fountain Kingdom which were written in a depressive state, her third album is the first she has ever written in a manic state, hence the name Manic.
Before the release, Halsey developed a lead-up like no other. When it started on September 12 with a seven-hour livestream of Halsey hand painting a ten-foot-tall mural of her album cover, fans knew to expect anything. Announcing the release date on January 17, in pure Halsey fashion, fans were eager to follow along with the cryptic clues and easter eggs.
The 16-track album itself is extremely candid and personal. From the beginning, Manic was characterized as an album which was written by Ashley for Halsey, Ashley being the performer’s real name, Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. Halsey commented, “I’ve played it for my mom and I’ve played it for my brother and they both started crying when they heard it. […] and they both looked at me and said ‘you sound like Ashley’” (1075 The River). Keeping with this concept, the first song on the album is titled “Ashley” and serves as a reintroduction to her fans. With heart-clenching lyrics such as “I don’t want to be somebody in America just fighting the hysteria, I only want to die somedays,”Halsey starts off this album on a heavy but grasping note. This first song ends with a quote from the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, making it the perfect sendoff into the rest of the album.
As the album continues, Halsey fans are reminded of the “manic” nature of the record as it jumps from genre to genre. From country songs, to piano ballads, to early 2000s punk pop music, fans have no idea what to expect from the next song as they listen for the first time. When asked about the genre of the album by Rolling Stone Magazine Halsey replied, “hip-hop, rock, country, everything — because it’s so manic. It’s soooooo manic. It’s literally just, like, whatever I felt like making; there was no reason I couldn’t make it.” Continuing the broad-reaching nature of the album, Manic includes incredible collaborations between Halsey and Dominic Fike, Alanis Morissette, and SUGA. Each of these interludes on the album sounds completely different but are equally captivating in their own way. “Dominic’s Interlude” serves as an incredible bridge between “Forever.. (is a long time)” and “I HATE EVERYBODY” making it seem as though these three tracks blend together into one. “Alanis’ Interlude” is a record of female sexual empowerment
including female pronouns as Halsey embraces her bisexuality. Lastly, “SUGA’s Interlude” is the first song on any of Halsey’s albums in a language other than English. This track holds an incredibly deep meaning towards the end of the album, leading up to the perfect ending which is bound not to leave a dry eye.
One of the most personal songs on the album comes next and it is titled “More,” which addresses Halsey’s struggles with reproductive health. Halsey has been very open about the fact that she has endometriosis and has suffered miscarriages. Despite this, she longs for a child of her own, and that is exactly what this track is about. Full of tear-jerking lyrics such as “they told me it’s useless, there’s no hope in store. But somehow I just want you more,” the song becomes even more impactful when fans discover it was written just moments after Halsey received the news that she has a good chance of being able to have children because of her endometriosis treatment.
Fans are reminded throughout that this is not a typical Halsey anthology. Rather than her usual hyperbolized storylines, this album is incredibly candid. Halsey states that “I accomplished what I set out to do which was give my fans a more direct kind of communication with me where I feel like I’m sitting them down and I’m talking to them, you know face to face” (1075 The River).
Ending on a song titled “929,” Halsey’s birthday, fans are reminded of the extremely personal nature of this album. Jesse Pickle, a junior at Morris Hills High School who I met while waiting ten hours to see Halsey host and perform on “Saturday Night Live” is one of the most “die-hard” fans I know, and he shares his opinion with me on Halsey’s revolutionary third album. He reflects, “the album is a retrospective piece of work that focuses on the inner artist, Ashley, and not the one that is known in the headlines as Halsey. The lyrics are raw and dark that deal with topics of mental health and Ashley’s personal struggles which is all masked by the fairytale and glittery sound of the album.”
After such an incredible release, fans are dying to know what Halsey has next in
store as her world tour begins in Madrid on February 6th. We know she has some insane visuals planned to accompany the songs and that she intends on playing the instrumentals herself on stage for a few of the tracks. One thing is certain, with Halsey, you must always be prepared for anything.
Manic Album Cover
Photo Credit: Garrett Hilliker and Halsey
Manic Album Back Cover
Photo Credit: Garrett Hilliker and Halsey
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