Halsey's Influence on the Music Industry
By: Gabby Frost
Singers, bands, and social media stars possess more power than they realize. If you have a lot of fans, chances are they will listen to almost every single thing you have to say. Unfortunately some of these celebrities abuse this power and manipulate their following. But whenever there is darkness in this world, one singer comes through and shines their light on the subject to raise proper awareness for it. That singer is Ashley Frangipane, aka Halsey.
Halsey is a 20-year-old (almost 21) singer from Washington, New Jersey who just released her debut album, BADLANDS, which includes “New Americana” and “Colors.” Halsey stands out from a lot of other singers because of the fact that she is biracial, bipolar, and bisexual. All of these factors influenced many of her songs and music videos, mainly “Ghost,” “Control,” and “New Americana.”
In 2014, Halsey released the song “Ghost” and gained enough success to be signed to Astralwerks. After being signed, she released her first EP, Room 93, and a music video for “Ghost” in October 2014. This music video portrayed a heterosexual relationship as many music videos do.
About eight months later in June 2015, she released a new version of the music video displaying a homosexual relationship between her and another woman. In an interview with Fuse, Halsey stated that "I wanted to see some representation of a lesbian relationship that wasn't over sexualized. Just two people in love—or at least they used to be."
Halsey is helping creating a voice for intersectional feminism, as she tweeted, “We need a feminism that is not negligent of women of color, trans women, queer women. We need a feminism that protects ALL women. Globally,” on March 8th, 2015. One of the thousands of replies to her tweets was, “that's what feminism does but ok,” and she replied “no that's what INTERSECTIONAL feminism does. The media is marketing you feminism that caters to cis, middle class, white women.” There are hundreds of thousands of people unaware of intersectional feminism; Halsey is doing more than what most celebrities do by sending out these two simple tweets.
Around the time that Halsey was 16 or 17, she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Having this mental illness has influenced her songs “Control” and “Gasoline.” By Halsey bringing light to mental health through her songs, she is helping defeat the universal stigma on mental illness.
She first opened up about having bipolar disorder in an interview with ELLE Magazine, where she told them, “I have bipolar disorder. I've never talked about that in an interview before. I never brought it up. A lot of people I work with probably don't know it. I think this a good time to talk about it. It's just like, I was diagnosed when I was 16 or 17. My mom has it, too.”
In the song “Control,” Halsey opens up lyrically about her mental illness. “Gasoline” also seems to touch upon bipolar disorder as well. She has also tweeted countless things relating to mental health, especially self-harm. Even from the beginning of her career (2013), she has been the reason why some of her fans are clean from self-harming.
On the other hand, Halsey’s most popular song, “New Americana” brings focus to the fact that she is biracial. In an interview with MTV, she states that “I have a song on my new record called ‘New Americana’ and the chorus has a line in it that says, ‘raised on Biggie and Nirvana.’ It’s because I come from a mixed race family — my dad’s black and my mom’s white — so growing up my dad was listening to a ton of old school rap and my mom was listening to a ton of ‘90s grunge.”
Halsey released the music video for the song on September 25th, 2015, and received overwhelming positive feedback. The central theme of “New Americana,” was to stand up for the things you believe in. It had a “Divergent and Hunger Games vibe,” and showed citizens rebelling against a dystopian government for being oppressive.
Halsey’s career has just begun and she is already breaking down barriers in the music industry. She’s exactly the type of role model we need for this generation. Even if you don’t enjoy her music, you have to at least admit that she is doing a phenomenal job raising a voice for the LGBTQ+ community, feminism, and oppression.
I’m looking forward to what she is going to offer us in the future and look forward to hopefully seeing her live on October 19th in Philadelphia, PA.
Thank you Halsey for being that person thousands of people in this world truly need. Keep making music and a difference in this world because you are going to accomplish many more incredible things.