Standing in a hall of fame through having a dedicated fan base on the Internet and being a guest singer to record one of the hottest song of 2016 with the Chainsmokers, the 22-year-old musician, Halsey, whose birth name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, today is going to release her sophomore album, “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,” to follow up her previous debut, “Badlands”.
“Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” was referenced as early as 2014 as she posted “and the Kingdom” on Twitter. In 2016, while she was performing in Madison Square Garden, the words “you can find me in the Kingdom” were displayed on the screen. In February, the American singer invited 100 fans to a church in London to hear four new songs from the album. One month later, she continued to tease her album via Twitter, posting “When I’m ready for you to have the album cover, I’m gonna make you find it.”
Piece by piece, Halsey has been unfolding the mystery of “Hopeless fountain Kingdom” with her little secret codes which has led her fans on a cryptic journey of decoding. Through the release of the new album, the expansion of Halsey’s universe unravels the process of how the singer’s spirit has transformed from leaving “Badlands” and “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” in order to create a brand new, somehow “unknown” kingdom of her own.
Checking out from “Room 93”
The rising star explained that the concept of all her albums was “widening the zoom on everything little by little as the records go on”. She said, “It started in Room 93 with the EP and moved to Badlands with the album kind of taking you to the world that existed outside the 93.”
To take her fans “to the universe outside of the Badlands”, “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” is set to be released followed by her first record as she felt that she had “more to say, more to explain” musically. “Especially since the whole concept of Badlands is her escaping the Badlands, so I think there is more to the story,” said Halsey.
According to an interview with the singer, “Badlands” was about a girl living in a post-apocalyptic society which had caused her to suffer greatly. However, this girl didn’t want to escape from “Badlands” even “knowing she should”, which was seen as “a metaphor for a mental space” in the singer’s perspectives. She explained, “sometimes it was just easier to just kind of wallow in your misery”, because feeling herself feel more “included” and “comfortable” in her own “depression”, she would rather be staying in the comfort zone.
When being asked about “Badlands” and her personal experience, Halsey revealed that the girl who was struggling in “Badlands” was actually a projection of herself when she was undergoing her life on that “really dark and raw landscape”, which could be traced back to her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Zach Merritt. Merritt has been the notable inspiration all along the way from “Room 93” to “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom”.
Distancing from “the Guy Lives in Brooklyn”
Zach Merritt has been the subject of many songs on the American songwriter’s records. Started from her first EP, “Room 93”, it is evident that the EP was written based on Merritt, and the singer has already admitted to that. Halsey and Merritt were dating when she was 17, and Merritt was 24. She revealed that her song, “Hurricane”, in her EP, was about Merritt who was apparently apparently “the boy who lived behind bricks” as he was living in “Brooklyn” on Halsey Street.
On the other hand, there are multiple images, such as hurricane, lilac sky, rose, young god and even the singer’s Serendipity tattoo, posted on this “Brooklyn boy’s” Tumblr page, and for sure, those images sound very familiar referring to the songwriter’s records. What makes it more obvious is that Merritt is the owner of an Instagram account called “h.f.kingdom” as well as the website, “HopelessFountainKingdom.com”. Without a doubt, the singer’s ex-boyfriend is definitely the foundation of her albums.
Becoming Juliet who Leaves her Romeo
As Halsey said in an interview, “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom is a story of two people who want to be in love so badly. They’re willing to change themselves for their love and in doing so, they let the real versions of themselves die. It’s a Romeo and Juliet Story.”
To match with the theme of “Romeo and Juliet”, in early March, there are multiple Twitter accounts made for two characters, Luna and White Nite, as well as the two houses, House of Aureum and House of Angelus. Corresponding to the storyline, Halsey would be Luna, and Merritt would be the White Nite, with Aureum and Angelus as their respective houses.
On these character profiles, every account’s location was set to “Anorev”, which is Verona, the setting of the Shakespeare tale spelled backwards. Nonetheless, the only account without displaying the location is Luna’s. Luna not being in Anorev may imply that Halsey has already left “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” and Merritt behind as she does in her latest music video of “Now or Never”.
Abandoning Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
Hopeless Fountain Kingdom is a kingdom which the singer discovered within her relationship with Merritt in which the young couple were experiencing dramatic adventures and poetic romance. The word “Hopeless” and the theme of “Romeo and Juliet”, nevertheless, have hinted the tragedy of a forbidden love where “these violent delights have violent ends” that may violently trap Luna into being Luna only for White Nite, instead of being Halsey, her true self.
Halsey told that she had completely lost herself when living as Luna in the “Kingdom” in a way that she only knew how to write about her White Nite instead of herself. Determined to find her lost self, the singer has made up her mind to abandon the “Kingdom” so as to bring herself back from it as she felt “It was almost like that girl that strong girl you know who fought her way out of the Badlands she was gone, and I had to go back and save her, and I’m lucky that I did. I did I found her, and they brought her back.”
Halsey believed that her spirit of self could be found only when she explored her desires without others’ interference. She thought to herself, “When I’m alone, and I’m not in a relationship, who am I? Who am I without the gaze of another person?” Looking for the answer to “Who am I when they’re not watching me, when they’re not judging me and that’s a lot of what this record is about?” by leaving the “Kingdom”, the singer was on the right track back to herself.
Building An New Kingdom of Her Own
When being asked about how her life has changed since her first record, the singer told the reporter that she “definitely” had “lived a lot of life” since “Badlands”. “It will be different being a teenager and now being an adult, and I have a home and I’ve travelled the world and I’ve had experiences have given me I think a fresh perspective in making this record.” said Halsey.
With her fluid creativity in music and individuality to never following the set patterns in the industry, Ashley Nicolette Frangipane has transformed from a Jersey child taking adventures into Brooklyn, into a world-wide popular singer. Although the kid certainly had her heart severely broken during her journey of transformation as we listened to her records, the songwriter has managed to relieve her psychological pain through the creation of music, letting go of the boy she met in “Badlands” and “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom”. By now, Halsey is known as a Platinum-selling artist with over four million Twitter followers, which should definitely be credited to the incredible strength of her spirit in healing her own soul through her “authentic and honest and organic” music.
Author Bio: Jessie Koo
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