Along with her newest single, “Graveyard,” Halsey has revealed details about her upcoming music through subtly placed clues.
Halsey never fails to keep her fans on their toes when it comes to new releases. With “Nightmare,” her hit single that was released in May, it was hiding posters that were printed with the lyrics around various cities for fans to find. Over the course of six days through mid-September, it was posting mysterious pictures on her Instagram counting down the days until the release of “Graveyard.”
Following a muted color scheme, fans were intrigued by the images and wanted to know more. Were they screencaps from a music video? What was the song going to be about? Fans were theorizing every possible option for how her latest single would differ from her last few hits of “Nightmare,” “11 Minutes” and “Without Me.” Personally, I anxiously awaited a sad song much like “Sorry” from her 2017 studio album “hopeless fountain kingdom” or “Coming Down” from her 2014 studio album “BADLANDS.”
Just two days prior to the release of “Graveyard,” we received our answer. Posted on Halsey’s Instagram was a ten second long video, just a snippet of what was to come. With an entirely black video image, a single line played out before being followed by a gasp, color exploding on the screen as the title popped up along with the figures H3, A01 and 017.
Halsey fans are used to her mysterious antics to hide secrets within her covers, art and album information guides. In the song packet that came with the “BADLANDS” CD, the letters HFK can be spotted on the last page within the acknowledgements, the first nod towards the 2017 “hopeless fountain kingdom.” In the music video for “Nightmare,” the word manic can be read at the top of the newspaper Halsey is reading during the second verse, leading most fans to believe that this is the name of her next studio album.
Because of this, fans found H3, A01 and 017 easy to decipher, especially after the reveal last Thursday that Halsey’s third studio album “MANIC” was set to be released with the tagline “hi, my name is Ashley. it’s nice to meet you.” Referencing back to those letters, fans were correct in saying that the H3 meant this will be Halsey’s third album and the A01 alluded to that this is the first album for her to write as Ashley, referencing her own life experiences as opposed to living behind a stage name. “MANIC” is set to release on Jan. 17.
What draws fans to Halsey in the first place is her unique blend of storytelling with her albums. For “BADLANDS,” it was about the future of society and how the young adults rallied together to go against the norm in a brutal society. For “hopeless fountain kingdom,” it mirrored a love story between two characters who were not allowed to be together due to their family history. Halsey is a master of storytelling and brings out such raw emotions through these tales, each song only thickening the plot, but she doesn’t want to hide behind a story anymore. Halsey wants to be Ashley again.
Halsey is the stage name for Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, a young woman from New Jersey who first became famous writing lyrics on the social media app Tumblr. Living behind this stage name for the last few years, Halsey felt like she could try out new ideas through her music and focus more on the story element of lyrics, but now it is Ashley’s turn to take the reigns with “MANIC.”
Halsey doesn’t want to release an album concealed by an intricate story anymore. She wants to release an album full of raw, powerful songs that describe how she feels and how the last few years have been for her. That is what “MANIC” is, the diary of Ashley Nicolette Frangipane that we are all going to be allowed to read. Personally, I am incredibly excited for this shift. “BADLANDS” and “hopeless fountain kingdom” had such differing tones and themes in the songs that I cannot wait to see how “MANIC” allows Halsey to play with new parts of her voice. It is going to be different than anything she has ever released before, and I am so ready for it.
“Graveyard” was our first peek into this new world of Halsey’s storytelling. At 1:17 p.m. pacific time last Thursday, Halsey tweeted a link to a single YouTube video. There she goes again with those little easter eggs; this was once again a reminder that “MANIC” will be released on Jan. 17. The YouTube video was a live stream of Halsey painting on an enormous canvas with cool-toned paints resting all around her. Many tuned in for the live stream that lasted around seven and a half hours of Halsey painting a self-portrait. About halfway through, most could guess as to what it was; my bet was placed when I first logged onto the live stream. She was painting the album cover for “MANIC.”
As the stream neared its end almost eight hours later, the live stream was deleted from YouTube, all of the links disappearing to be replaced with a time lapse video of the painting. Playing over the video was, finally, the full audio for “Graveyard.”
After waiting nearly two weeks following her first hint of the single, I was ecstatic to finally be listening to the masterpiece while watching the creation of a masterpiece in the temporary music video. Halsey is an artist, so utterly talented with multiple mediums that one cannot help but admire her. That’s what most comments on the video are actually about, praising her artistic ability in more than just music.
I love the sound of “Graveyard,” the way that Halsey so eloquently matches such upsetting, painful lyrics with a soft tone in a song that is delicate in instrumentals. It is an emotional piece. I couldn’t help but wonder who she had written it about. The lyrics are catchy and stay ingrained in the mind long after it is first listened to, unless you’re me and play it on repeat for hours as a time. They echo so many emotions that I’m sure listeners are able to relate to themselves. The bridge is also so haunting, my favorite part of the entire three-minute piece. This single isn’t as slow as “Sorry” or as quiet as “Coming Down,” but shares the same energy. It is a slow song, a sad song, but Halsey found an entirely new way to achieve this.
It is true, though, that “Graveyard” and “MANIC” are going to differ from content that Halsey has ever released before. It doesn’t have the punch of “Nightmare” or the eerie pop of “Without Me.” “Graveyard” is a whole new realm for Halsey to trek through. Now, the story doesn’t focus on an intricate plot she made up, but the emotional journey she’s already been through.