Halsey is pretty new to the music industry- her first album, an EP titled Room 93, just came out in 2014. But she’s taking the world by a storm- within just the past year, she’s performed at the huge music festival South by Southwest and toured with massively popular bands like The Kooks and Imagine Dragons.
I won’t hesitate to admit that I can be… just a teeny bit of an elitist about pop. “It’s factory made music!” “There’s no heart to it!” “There’s nothing artistic about it!” I don’t really mean to. I’m just… not really into pop.
But there are a handful of pop artists I do like- Marina and the Diamonds, Echosmith, some of Taylor Swift’s newer, less country stuff- and Halsey is at the top of that list. Let me tell you why.
So, Halsey is an indie/ electronic pop singer and songwriter. Her music is totally beautiful- it’s whimsical and pretty, but has a dark and gritty layer to it, too. She writes her own songs and does an amazing job at it, if I do say so myself.
She’s honest and heartfelt, something that I feel is missing from a lot of pop. She knows what she’s singing about, and she owns it.
She sings because she cares about it, not because she’s a particularly good singer (she is, but apparently she doesn’t think so herself). In one interview, she said
Yeah, I mean, I write all my own music—I’m a writer at heart. I’m not actually even a very good singer. I’m not. I’m okay with admitting that because some of the best musicians in history weren’t great singers: Patti Smith, Bob Dylan. I loved a guy named Conor Oberst who’s in a band called Bright Eyes. He can’t sing. Love him. And it’s cool because it’s almost like the most liberating thing ever. This is a side note, but I can go up on stage and not have to worry about if I sing good because I already kinda can’t. I don’t have to worry about hitting runs and being ridiculous. For me it’s about emotion.
She’s a breath of fresh air for pop music.
Also, she has the coolest hair!!!
But if that’s not enough to persuade you, there’s more.
Because Halsey is an outspoken bisexual, biracial, and bipolar feminist! Remember what I was saying about her being a breath of fresh air for pop? Because Halsey is what a lot of girls need these days- a positive role model. Someone who speaks out about homophobia, racism, mental health, and so much more.
Like, seriously. So much more. Just skim through her Twitter and you’ll see.
In one interview where she was discussing being bipolar, she explained
They’re like, ‘I want to be with someone who is like crazy.’ Well, guess what? It’s not all painting at four o’clock in the morning and road trips and great things. Sometimes it’s throwing things and, like, getting hurt and having to pick someone up from the police station at two o’clock in the morning. My biggest fear has always been being that woman.
Like, I cannot express how great of a role model Halsey is for girls.
I kind of just embraced the things about me that were a little odd. The thing about having bipolar disorder, for me, is that I’m really empathetic. I feel everything around me so much. I feel when I walk past a homeless person, and I feel when my friend breaks up with someone, or I feel when my mom and my dad get into a fight and my mom’s crying over dishes in the sink. I used to say to her all the time, like, ‘I hate this. I want to be naïve. I want to be worried about my prom dress. I want to be worried about getting my math homework done. I want to be like everyone else my age,’ and she would say, ‘Would you rather be blissfully ignorant or would you rather be pained and aware?’ That was one of the things that’s kind of followed with me through my whole life. She’s encouraging of what I’m doing because she knows that even if sometimes I might be in pain, I’m aware.
Like, seriously!!! It’s so nice being able to see someone in the media who actually speaks out about these things, and does it honestly.
Another quote, this one discussing the decision whether to cast a man or a woman as her romantic partner when she was filming a music video for one of her songs, Ghost.
The content of the video was me being a little oppositional actually. We were in a meeting talking about just doing a higher budget version of the original and someone said “alright well, we’ll cast a guy” and I think I kinda snapped. I wasn’t planning to, honestly, it wasn’t some political move, I just kinda went “why would you assume that you’d cast me a guy”.
That general assumption that a guy should be cast, like, that the video was about a hetero-normative plotline, just made me angry and made me realize how important it is to do something that people aren’t expecting. Like, I’m a bisexual woman so I’m interested in relationships with both men and women and I know how important it is to showcase that.
Such!!! A!!! Great!!! Role!!! Model!!! A pop artist spreading a positive, girl power driven message!
And she doesn’t let the power get to her head, either- in this interview, she explains that she recognizes that she makes mistakes, and she’d rather have kids look up to her ideals than idolize her.
I don’t insist that any of my ideas or opinions are the perfect form, but I’ve kind of accepted the fact that I’m a role model for a lot of different types. I’m mixed race—my dad is black and my mom is white—and I’m very pale. Growing up there weren’t a lot of mixed people in the media who were as pale as I was. I always felt like I was too light to identify with anyone else. I now have girls reach out to me all the time and say, ‘I’m mixed race like you and I’m just as white as you are. Thank you for being that for me.’ Or, you know, someone reaches out with a mental illness or someone reaches out who is, you know, a feminist. I just like to be the in-between role model—the one I didn’t have growing up. At the same time, if I’m going to be a role model, I would rather kids idolize my intention to do good and my intention to be myself and my intention to be different rather than my actions. I think my intentions are more admirable than my actions.
So, I mean, if this hasn’t persuaded you to listen to her, I hope it’s at least showed you how amazing she is. I mean, I get it if you don’t like her music but she’s seriously so cool and it’s amazing that girls have someone like her to look up to.