Halsey
Badlands


2.5
average

Review

by Green Baron USER (159 Reviews)
September 30th, 2015 | 249 replies


Release Date: 08/28/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If this is the New Americana, then we're in for a long ride.

The hype train can be a very powerful thing. It’s how a 21-year old, with no prior exposure whatsoever, can suddenly amass a strong cult of followers and sell 115,000 copies of her album in one week with only four previously released songs to her name and a lack of public exposure or coverage. In an age of predominant digital media consumption, a musician ascending to fame through the means of Tumblr and Twitter shouldn’t be as surprising as it is. Yet as the train barreled through the station, its passengers were left disappointed. It had traveled at light-speed, but at the same time it was incredibly bumpy and poorly constructed. The train was built to crash.

Much like actual badlands, Halsey’s debut album is extremely dry and devoid of life. From the beginning, it’s clear which qualities need to be excised and which offer any hope at redemption. “Castle”, the opening track, is bogged down by its mediocre attempt at social commentary, bland trip-hop beats and monotonous vocals. Those are the overarching themes of Badlands, as the songs following it flounder in the same way. While comparisons paint her as an amalgamation of Lana Del Rey and Lorde, she completely fails to reenact both the former’s swooning production and the latter’s dark yet luscious atmosphere, leaving us with a half-assed attempt that goes absolutely nowhere. A good pop album relies on its hooks to reel listeners in, but Halsey only manages to achieve that half the time. Either the production, vocals or lyrics let it down in the end, and it’s hard to write a good hook when there are flaws surrounding it.

Lyrically, Badlands couldn’t be any more inept. There’s an endless list of cringeworthy lines, poorly thought-out ideas and egregious attempts at being edgy. “New Americana” represents Halsey’s worst foray into the world of songwriting. It’s a song so atrocious that many will be surprised to discover was composed by five different people. The track critiques the pillars of American society by going straight for the jugular, “attacking” its casual use of recreational drugs, intolerance on homosexuality and extravagant lifestyle. Its lyrics are incredibly forced and come off as too try-hard, while “Americana”, “marijuana” and “Nirvana” have to be one of the most awkward set of rhymes in recent memory (as a side note, it’s highly improbable that Halsey, someone who was born five months following Kurt Cobain’s suicide and two weeks after the release of Ready to Die, was “raised on Biggie and Nirvana”). Elsewhere, there are off-putting references to cunnilingus and snide remarks about “the patriarchy”. It’s extremely pandering to her target audience, who will undoubtedly worship every word she says because it speaks to their angsty teenaged souls. Make no mistake, Badlands caters to a very specific group of people, the same people who brought her to where she is today.

As much as the album is riddled with flaws, it’s not all worthless. The moments where Halsey drops the pretentious act and sings from her heart are when she blooms as a musician, and it’s a shame that it doesn’t occur more often. Tracks like “Ghost”, “Roman Holiday” and “Colors” come off as a lot more personal than the vapid, banal, pseudo-edgy phoniness that is prevalent on the rest of Badlands. It’s on these tracks that the emotion shines in her vocals, which are filled with life and passion and not monotony. Perhaps predictably, these are the songs that are the catchiest. The latter stands out as the definite highlight of the album, a tale about addiction and depression that weaves together her pained voice with bleak lyrics to form one of the best pop songs of the year.

There’s a recurring theme within Badlands, which is that the vocals, lyrics and hooks of a song are highly variable. The inconsistency is what dooms the album in the end; as a full listen front-to-back, it’s just not enjoyable. If only the best of the best were cherry-picked into a four song EP, then perhaps the end result would have turned out differently. Halsey knows her target audience very well, and her giving them everything they’re asking for is exactly how she went from YouTube nobody to overnight star. The internet made her famous, and now she’s pandering to the people who helped her get there. Unfortunately, pandering doesn’t make for good music, and in between the awfulness of “New Americana” and the brilliance of “Colors”, there’s a fine line right down the middle that serves as the mean of all the album’s qualities.



Recent reviews by this author
Linkin Park One More LightIncubus (USA-CA) 8
Highly Suspect The Boy Who Died WolfFrom Ashes To New Day One
Frank Turner Mittens3 Doors Down Us and the Night
user ratings (216)
Chart.
2.4
average


Comments:Add a Comment 
Green Baron
September 29th 2015


24351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

breaking off the rust from these chains



yes, I thought I never would write another review again. yes, I changed my mind. yes, feedback is much appreciated as I haven't done this thing in 4 months

Jasdevi087
September 29th 2015


5369 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

I hate this so much.

Snake.
September 29th 2015


21142 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

but why tho

Digging: Space Camp - Inevitable Demise

Jasdevi087
September 29th 2015


5369 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

the corny production, the obvious attempt to cash in to the angsty teen inside you, the terrible lyrics, the dynamic-less vocals, the length blah blah blah

MyNameIsPencil
September 29th 2015


5287 Comments


more like Halsey - badalbum

Snake.
September 29th 2015


21142 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

what what what whatttttt the vocals are like the best part tbh

Jasdevi087
September 29th 2015


5369 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

really? She's easily one of the most boring vocalists I've heard in a while.

Mutantsnowstorm
September 29th 2015


504 Comments


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvacGLXtQbk

Good review btw, I saw your name and realized you haven't done much on here in a while

Snake.
September 29th 2015


21142 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

coming down feels like she's just reaching out of my speakers, grabbing me by the neck, and locking lips with me ughhhhhhh

Ebola
September 29th 2015


3441 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Great review, spot-on.

Her voice is so unbearably boring that I could barely make it through the album.

Green Baron
September 29th 2015


24351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

snake you make that sound a lot more entertaining than it actually is

Snake.
September 30th 2015


21142 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

put yr mind to it bruh

LotusFlower
September 30th 2015


12001 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

its been a while since a vocalist has put me to sleep

rufinthefury
September 30th 2015


3081 Comments


really good review. i still need to listen to this

Sinternet
September 30th 2015


17899 Comments


Goddamit I just remembered I got halfway through a review this and completely forgot about it. This is tons better than mine though.


Agreed on the rating, some standout tracks (Ghost, Colors) are well-written and have more personality, and New Americana is one of the worst tracks I've heard all year. She has potential, but it seems like the tracks getting attention are her worst ones and she'll unfortunately probably follow that path in the future.

Digging: SMiLE.dk - Smile

ryanfabermi
September 30th 2015


27 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Agreed. Her boring vocals give Lana Del Rey a run for her money...they should sing-off and see who puts down the most people in the audience

trackbytrackreviews
September 30th 2015


3369 Comments


Today is her birthday and I know this cause half my Tumblr are congratulations and gifs of her right now

oisincoleman64
September 30th 2015


2234 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I want to hate this so badly

DropdeadWHA
September 30th 2015


1396 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nah this is cool.

theNateman
October 1st 2015


3555 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Dude, she's fucking hot



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy