Halsey showscases her vunerable side in ‘Manic’

Photo courtesy of Pitchfork

Photo courtesy of Pitchfork

Kaitlin Wong, A&E Editor

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Hit singer Ashley Frangipane, better known as Halsey, returned with her third studio album, Manic on Jan. 17, 2020. The album was highly anticipated after the release of her single “Without Me,” which topped the charts. The excitement for Manic’s release was well-deserved as it showcased her signature vocals and authentic lyrics as well a more mature style. 

Halsey weaves the story of heartbreak as well as learning how to love others and even more importantly herself. In “Without Me,” the best track on Manic Halsey tells the story of betrayal clearly and in the most chic way possible. Halsey asks, “Name in the sky, does it ever get lonely? / Thinkin’ you could live without me.” In addition to the excellent lyrics and vocals, the overall production of the “Without Me” is sleek. Another song with powerful lyrics is in “I Hate Everyone,” in which Halsey begins to question how she really feels: “So I just keep sayin’ I hate everybody / But maybe I, maybe I don’t.” The track shows how Halsey is beginning to grow and understand that humanity isn’t as cruel as she thinks it is. The most stirring of songs is “You Should Be Sad,” a country-inspired account of a past relationship with a self-centered man. The track is simple and raw, with just acoustic guitars and Halsey recounting her painful experiences. She croons, “No, you’re not half the man you think that you are/ And you can’t fill the hole inside of you with money, drugs, and cars.” Manic feels like one big confession spilling out of Halsey. 

Another track that takes on a different sound from Halsey’s usual is “3 AM.” The track is fast-paced, but definitely more stripped down in comparison to some of Halsey’s other tracks that are filled with vocal effects and synthesizers. “3 AM” lets Halsey’s voice be the star of it by pairing it with electric guitar riffs and energetic drumming. The track is a vivid narration about trying to find reassurance and love from others. While the clear storytelling elements of the track is what Halsey is known for, “3 AM” is a shift from Halsey’s typical pop style due to the infusion of certain rock elements, and it works. “3 AM” has everything that makes Halsey great: alluring lyrics, beautiful voice, and a tendency to get stuck in your head, while also having a revamped style.  

While “3 AM” is ultimately a success, the outro was offbeat. At the end of “3 AM,” Halsey inserts an audio clip of John Mayer congratulating her on the success of “Without Me.” It feels very out of place with the rest of the track. On relistens of “3 AM,” the outro will probably be skipped in order to get to the next track. Another oddity of  the album came on the track entitled “killing boys.” It opens up with a piece of dialogue between Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox from the 2009 movie Jennifer’s Body. It does show where Halsey got her inspiration for the track, but again, it is extremely skippable and disjointed from the rest of the track.

The two audio insertions may flounder, however, the collaborations on Manic are well done. Halsey had three artists she collaborated with, Dominic Pike, Alanis Morissette, and Suga from BTS. The strongest of the three is definitely Alanis Morisette’s feature in the appropriately named “Alanis’ Interlude,” which expresses their experiences as bisexual women. The collaboration between the two singers clicks because of their similar style in addition to the fact that Halsey’s sweeter voice blends smoothly with Morisette’s rougher voice. Now, even though this collaboration is good, it still isn’t quite up to par with several of Halsey’s other tracks. Overall, all three of the collaborations in Manic don’t shine, but they fit into the album seamlessly.

Manic shows a much more refined and emotional side to Halsey especially in comparison to Halsey’s first album, Badlands. Badlands felt like Halsey was trying to hard to be edgy and dark, whereas Manic seems to be a more accurate representation of Halsey’s identity. In Manic, Halsey tells the story of who she is as a person through her lyrics with her own unique voice.

Link to photo – https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/halsey-manic/