Okay, we might be a little biased when we say we’ve collected Halsey’s eight best songs, but, to us, these are their best songs. Right?
Halsey first started on Tumblr. Their electric blue hair and aesthetic clothing started dominating the platform, their music soon following the trickle of images. Room 93 is embedded in our minds forever with its ethereal production and the beginnings of Halsey’s signature rasp. Since her debut album, Badlands, Halsey has accumulated over 30 billion streams (‘Without You’ and ‘Die 4 Me,’ anyone?), launched an artistic makeup company, created a cinematic film to go along with the release of their most recent record (If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power), and protested for human rights, and… need we keep going? They’re an icon, okay? Okay.
Now, to start off Halsey’s eight Best Songs, we’re going back in time.
‘Hurricane’ – Room 93 EP
Arguably the one that tugs on our heartstrings most due to the nostalgia, ‘Hurricane’ is one of those songs that just grips you by the shirt and forces you to listen. We never complain. As an audience, Halsey introduces us to their storytelling songwriting, and how her songs thrive off narrative, and painting a scene using imagery and poetic language. We love the slow, reverbed beat in the background, muffled as if mimicking a beating heart. And then the chorus hits, and we’re overcome with the desire to run in slow motion down a dark city street, admiring the lights. “I’m the violence in the pouring rain / I’m a hurricane” – as cliché as the lyric might sound now, the all-encompassing nature of the chorus and the tone of Halsey’s voice remind us that we really did feel that way.
‘Roman Holiday’ – Badlands (Deluxe)
Halsey’s voice glides over the beat, double the speed, showing off a flow of words that are reminiscent of slam poetry and a beautiful tone in ‘Roman Holiday.’ The upbeat chorus, soaring through the clouds, the lyrics illustrating a somewhat forbidden relationship. There’s a sense of innocence and coming of age that comes from this track, capturing that feeling of being in love with no worries in the world, except for the person that you love.
‘Gasoline’ – Badlands (Deluxe)
Quite a switch from the loving, tender nature of ‘Roman Holiday,’ ‘Gasoline’ just alights us with sheer adoration for this song. Talking about the darkness that lies within people, consciously or subconsciously. Halsey explores the voices in their head, reflecting on their self-destructive habits. The low melody, the slowness, there’s a sense of eeriness in this song. They even reference ‘Hurricane’ in this song, playing the signature melody for two beats before cutting back to the song. The song is dynamic and unsettling – it’s perfection.
‘Walls Could Talk’ – hopeless fountain kingdom
Halsey’s flow is a bit on show with this short track, the storyteller in them, detailing scenarios and conversations. Less than 2 minutes long, the song is a bit mismatched in the way the percussion is added to the song, but it works. There’s a sense of urgency throughout the song, further proved by the length of the track, but it’s the upbeat, almost aggressive synthesizers in the chorus. And we love how this track leads so well into ‘Bad At Love.’
‘Bad at Love’ – hopeless fountain kingdom
The smooth R&B bass in the background, a nice, sharp drum track, and a fast slam of lines and images in the first verse are truly what puts this track with Halsey’s best. Halsey’s vocals tread the line between rap and slam poetry and singing throughout the entire track – something that isn’t entirely new for them, but is still incredibly refreshing and enjoyable. The stories that Halsey weaves together in self-reflection, self-deprecation of her relationships, and negative traits she finds within herself in those relationships. We’ve cried while listening to this one, more than once.
‘3am’ – Manic
One could say that this is a perfect pop-rock song (one meaning us, we say this is the perfect pop-rock song). With some smooth, dad rock guitars, an upbeat drumkit, and a killer melody, ‘3am’ stands out in Halsey’s discography for a reason. The structure and idea behind the song aren’t necessarily new or innovative, but the precision and technique used to create this song are technically quite sound. It’s melodic and incredibly catchy. This song will definitely be stuck in our heads after this article.
‘Still Learning’ – Manic
Again, Halsey weaves a story about their struggles with self-esteem, self-perception, the ability to be loved, and learning to love themselves. The narrative that they create between their own experiences and processes throughout recalling specific conversations, memories, and more to paint the image of her life and her mind. The instrumentals in this song fly under the radar. It builds when it should, adding intensity when needed and refraining when it’s not. This song makes us sad, but not like a bad sad, like a good sad.
‘Easier than Lying’ – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
We love the direction Halsey took on If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. It’s industrial and grungey and dark and exciting. A stark contrast from Manic, ‘Easier than Lying’ is such a freaking fun song. Channeling a good ol’ fashioned punk drum beat, riding the cymbals and a fast tempo, the song thrashes around as Halsey, the lyrics dark. The concept album thrives, but this is arguably the best song off the record.
Honorable Mentions: ‘Die 4 Me,’ ‘Bells in Santa Fe,’ ‘Without Me,’ ‘Nightmare’ (!!!)
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An American music journalist based in Dublin. Words in: Alternative Press, Insider, Kerrang!, The Honey Pop, Headstuff.org, OTwo