‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom’: Another Muddy Outing From Halsey, The Polarizing Pop Princess
My biggest gripe about Halsey is she seems inauthentic to me, though one could argue, very successfully, that I don’t know her like that. So then I move to the actual music, from vocals to arrangements to ‘concept’, and to the folks that think I have an attitude problem or something, if any of the three points I illustrated were in fact impressive to me, I would be right out there with y’all, completely leaving any argument about authenticity out of the equation. At the end of the day, I never ‘got’ the hype about Halsey, and watching a recent SNL performance of hers singing the single “Eastside”, I could tell that whatever I thought, her activities such as painting ‘live’ while singing were resonating with her audience in a major way. In this performance, she does a decent performance painting within the pre made boundaries of a sketch, yet her voice seems too effortlessly delivered, while physically crouched and clearly distracted – leading me to analyze her mouth more than the materializing work of art. Now, I would never fault a singer for lip syncing while painting, as doing the two things would be a tall order for any mutli-talented artist. In a tweet, she claimed that she was singing, which reinforces her ‘stanning’ fans’ defense of the performance, enough to certainly make them happy – which is all that matters really. My only thing is, I’ve seen lip syncing in action; it looked like lip syncing in action, she was constantly bent in one of the most unforgiving positions to sing with the range she exhibited, she doesn’t really have said range to begin with in a live setting, the backing track and vocals were pumping overtime, and her face and body language really leans more towards audience engagement and completing the painting in time, with hardly a trace of visible strain at trying to hit her notes. I’m not calling bullshit, but I’m just sayin’. The fact that she says ‘no, I was singing the whole time’ doesn’t hurt her in the eyes of her fan base who already defended her from incredulous minds like mine. All of the sudden, I thought, hey, this song is not terrible – it’s a collab between herself, Khalid, and Benny Blanco, but it wasn’t phenomenal either, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s be real. So having heard the previous album BADLANDS and being very disappointed with its content, I thought that perhaps in the couple of years hence, her album hopeless fountain kingdom (Deluxe) might possess, at the least, a balance of immature and mature songwriting. A fifty fifty experience is what I was aiming to hear.
This Obsession With Being A Concept Album Wears Thin
BADLANDS was burdened to deliver on ‘concept album’ promises, and for me, those promises were not kept, at least on the surface, for I would have to devote many extra hours to deep diving on various fan forums to get at the heart of all the supposed connections between the songs. I’m not saying that those connections weren’t there - I’m just saying they were woefully hard to find for me, and this is already after the fact that I really was unmoved by the music itself during that album experience. Billed as the antithesis to Taylor Swift – guess what, ima choose to listen to Taylor Swift, an artist that I don’t particularly do backflips for when her new album comes out, but somebody who I certainly feel has her songwriting more locked down. What hopeless fountain kingdom has is a bunch of songs, some of them cool, some of them better than what I heard on BADLANDS, but most of them being either overloud, aimless, or outright dull. In so far as concepts are concerned this time around, I am a huge fan of Baz Luhrmann’s hyper color Shakespearean play made for the big screen, Romeo and Juliet, and Halsey used this movie and the associated doomed lover angle for much of the material herein, and also the concept of music video “Bad at Love.” Just as Luhrmann’s vision skirted fashionable queer culture, Halsey also infuses her own bisexuality into the main character of the album, named Luna Aureum, and her quest for love and expectance despite international and external factors intent on destroying her. As with BADLANDS, the concept is pretty mediocre, as Halsey claims that the two albums are intrinsically linked through lyrics and and song parts, but also through the story of Romeo & Juliet (the most art student without any ideas fallback plan in the history of fallback plans), and unsurprisingly, none of this ‘concept’ is terribly obvious. Therefore, what is my biggest complaint? Don’t call it a concept album just cuz. Listen to real concept albums, and then use two aids; taste, and the ability to edit one’s self, in order to better determine whether you are either poetic or pretentious. “Bad at Love” as a song is memorable more because I have heard it so many times thanks to the aggressive airplay at the time of its release, but as a song, it lives and dies on its big ‘bad at love’ hook, but is it really a song, when you remove all the noise and the trap rhythm? If you aren’t a fan of Halsey’s voice, this song is not for you. Whether it is arching on these big epic parts, or rushing to fit in as many sing-rap styled words as possible into the verses, the song is a showcase of what I personally find overwhelming and overhyped - about her vocals, even though the song has moments where it tends to pick up. Alas, it goes nowhere melodically – much more of an over aggrandized interlude on a superior singer’s album, which should have clocked in at a minute and 10 seconds or so, as opposed to three whole minutes.
2. Track List (17)
3. Official (17)
4. Live (6)
5. Featuring Remixes (2)
7. Similar Albums (1)
8. Similar Artists (14)
9. Album Info