There is nothing Halsey loves more than surprising fans on her birthday. Last year, prior to the release of her latest album “MANIC,” Halsey teased the album with her single “clementine” and an accompanying music video. It was a wonderful surprise, a dance through an aquarium with her and her younger brother, the choreography devised by the two of them, but this year, Halsey celebrated with something a little closer to home: a music video for “929.”
From “MANIC,” “929” was my absolute favorite song. While my other favorites on the album varied depending on my mood or my life at the moment, “929” was consistent in my reaction to the emotional and painfully honest lyrics. From “I wasn’t in love then, and I’m still not now, and I’m so happy I figured that out” to “well who am I, I’m almost 25,” I memorized this entire song from the beginning, a ballad in free verse that Halsey spontaneously wrote in the studio hearing the beat for the first time.
It’s a song that trails shivers down your spine, that makes you tear up, that alleviates loneliness on a long night, and now, there’s a music video to match those feelings. To honor the singer’s birthday, it’s a collaboration of home videos and concert films, all overplayed through a projector on a simplistic bedroom (that I’m pretty sure was from the “Graveyard” music video, only making it more meaningful). It’s nostalgic and poetic, hitting fans with emotions straight through the heart. The first time I watched it, I couldn’t stop myself from crying, recalling every moment I had watched her achieve since I started listening to her music in 2015.
In a video just under three minutes long, you watch Halsey grow up, from videos of her taking her first steps to moments of her belting on concert stages right before COVID-19 shut it all down earlier than planned. We get clips of her playing dress up, blowing out candles on a birthday cake and hanging out with her family. We see her signing her first contract, playing her first tour, prepping backstage and travelling the world. Even if you’ve never been to one of her concerts (sadly, like myself), you can still identify with the energetic crowd filmed, screaming her lyrics and waving their flashlights. It is a memoir of being a Halsey fan through all that we have experienced, a box of memories to take us through the badlands and the hopeless fountain kingdom to where we thrive today. It’s an ode to growth and achievement, to remembering who you are as well as following your dreams.
To go along with the music video, Halsey also released the deluxe version of “MANIC” to stream on all platforms. This includes “wipe your tears,” “I’m Not Mad” and acoustic versions of “Graveyard” and “You should be sad” and stripped versions of “Alanis’ Interlude,” “Without Me,” “Graveyard” and “3am.” Only on the international edition of the album could you hear “wipe your tears” and “I’m Not Mad,” so getting an extension of the adrenaline-fueled, emotional and powerful lyrics as well as tone that make “MANIC” what it is just might be one of the best surprises a fan could get. I always hoped the album could be just a little longer.
For not thinking a music video would ever be released for such a sensitive song not meant for mass media or the radio, but instead for the fans that have believed in her for so long, it was a shock to hear that it was released one Thursday afternoon. As the artist says so herself to open the song that spurred it all, “I really was born at 9:29 am on 9/29; you think I’m lying, but I’m being dead serious,” and we’re all here to celebrate it.