Album Review: Halsey’s Manic

Halsey album manic album cover. Girl with glitter on face.

On January 17, Halsey released her newest album Manic, giving listeners an uncensored look into the artist’s head and heart.

The wait is finally over, Halsey’s new album Manic is here and the singer couldn’t be happier. “The most torturing and beautiful wait of my life has come to an end. Manic is out now,” the singer tweeted on January 16. The wait was definitely worth it as the singer’s last album release was 2017’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Manic gives us an uncensored look into the singer’s head and heart while also learning more about her past relationship, bipolar disorder, and constant struggle with self-doubt and confidence. Before Manic release, fans already had access to half the album with the following released songs “Without Me”, “Graveyard”, “Finally// Beautiful Stranger”, and “Suga’s Interlude”. The rest of the album is where Halsey gets raw and emotional. Manic has some special guests who are important to Halsey who include Dominic Fike, John Mayer (end of track 3AM), Alanis Morissette, and BTS member Suga.

Halsey album manic album cover. Girl with glitter on face.
Taken from Halsey’s Twitter

The album kicks off with “Ashley” her own name, Ashley Frangipane. This song introduces fans to her real identity, Ashley, not Halsey. She reflects on her past as the persona Halsey. We find out that when her character Halsey is no longer here, her musical legacy will remain. Halsey shared with Zane Lowe from Apple Music that “It’s arguably the most Halsey sounding song on the album…It was like a comfortable entry point for people.”

Second, on the list is stripped-back track “Clementine” which was released on the singer’s 25th birthday. The song addresses a romantic interest while discussing some of her mental issues in general. This all turns back to how vulnerable Halsey is in her character.

“Graveyard” is the second single off of manic to be released. This song is part of the album compared to just being a stand-alone single. “Graveyard” discusses being in love with someone who is not in a good place, yet you love them so much and are willing to go to that bad place with them. The song also teaches us that we have to take care of ourselves while still loving someone and not following them to the bad place their in.

“You should be sad” is the last single released and probably the best. This country-influenced track is where Halsey spills out her frustrations with an ex-boyfriend, while also throwing some shade about her ex’s character with lyrics like “No, you’re not half the man you think that you are,” “Cause, you can’t love nothing unless there’s something in it for you,” and “You can’t fill the hole inside of you with money, drugs, and cars.” On twitter, a fan asked Halsey her inspirations for this track (knowing that she is pop/alternative musician.) and she responded with, “the most petty and heartbreaking songs all come from country. I wrote YSBS (you should be sad) on my living room floor on my guitar. Lots of time in Nashville too.” The music video for “You should be sad” has little references to her idols which include Christina Aguilera, Lady GaGa, and Shania Twain.

You should be sad – Music Video *Viewer Discretion Advised*

“Forever…(is a long time)” is the first track of a trio that is meant to be listened in succession. The song starts in major key before switching over to minor. This style choice represents what happens once Halsey gets in her own head. The track showcases what happens when you fall in love and then sabotage because of your own paranoia and insecurities.

“Dominic’s Interlude” features Dominic Fike, the track discusses brotherly love which is why Halsey chose to have Dominic on the track. The interlude itself is a representation of unique relationships. This track is the second of the trio featured on Manic.

“I HATE EVERYBODY” is the final track in the trio. Contrary to the song title, she does not hate everybody all the time. Halsey shared that “’I HATE EVERYBODY’” is about when you’re young, your insecurities can get the best of you.” She also shared that “I shouldn’t be desirable because some rock star you think is cool thinks I’m desirable, no that’s not what this is anymore.” This is the perfect way to close out a trio with a little angst.

In “3am,” the song following “I HATE EVERYBODY,” Halsey chats about the calls you make to friends and lovers in the early morning hours in order to feel love. “3AM” also represents how drinking can seriously affect your mental state while causing you to doubt yourself. The singer tweeted that “After a night out, I came home and was ringing everyone in my contacts cause I was trying to talk to literally ANYONE so I wouldn’t have to sit with my own thoughts.” The Outro to the track is a voicemail from John Mayer which was unexpected but super cool.

“Without Me” – The first single for manic and released from Halsey after her last album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. This track was directed towards ex-boyfriend G-Eazy, after being cheated on by the rapper. Halsey shared that “Without Me” is the rawest thing she’s ever made. There is no character with this song, it’s just Ashley. The track is about her life and the relationship the entire world watched under a magnifying glass. Originally, the song was supposed to be a standalone single, however, in September 2019, the singer revealed that it would be number 9 on manic.

Without Me – Music Video *Viewer Discretion Advised*

“Finally // beautiful stranger” – In this slow romantic song, Halsey discusses the first time she met her boyfriend Dom, aka YUNGBLUD. Halsey was the one who asked Dom out and said, “do you want to go and get drinks.” They had never met one another before and just hit it off. This was the first relationship following her break-up with rapper G-Eazy. Halsey wrote this song when they first met, but when the song was officially released, the couple had already broken up.

“Alanis Interlude” feat. Alanis Morissette – This track features the very talented Alanis Morissette, someone with who Halsey looks up to. The interlude is reflective of relationships in her life. Her friend Dom is reflective of “brother love relationships and Alanis represents a sexual and professional empowerment.” For those who do not follow Halsey, in her previous albums, she has made it clear she is bisexual and she wanted to have a song that reflects all of her including her sexuality.

“Killing Boys” – “You are killing people.” “No, I’m killing boys.” Sound familiar? Well, that line is from the 2009 horror film “Jennifer’s Body” and it is a conversation between actresses Meghan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. The actual audio clip from the scene starts off this track. The song is about how a woman should be feeling after a breakup. Unlike the song “you should be sad” which directly talks about her frustration with a certain relationship, this one is broader and can apply to anyone. Ultimately, Halsey is communicating to women everywhere that you should be a strong and independent woman.

“Suga Interlude” – On this bilingual track, which is awesome by the way. Halsey brings on Suga from the K-Pop group BTS. The song is about falling in and out of love and fear of letting go of that relationship. The chorus reinforces this where Halsey says “I wonder what’s in store. If I don’t love it anymore (Hey) stuck between the having it all and giving it up, yeah (hey).”

“More” – This one hit me emotionally, why? Halsey opens up about her health and that she suffers from endometriosis and the three miscarriages, she tweeted on March 25, 2019. Endometriosis causes fertility issues. In More, Halsey states that all of her sufferings has increased her love for her future baby. More is not just another love song, this is a song to a person who has not been created yet, but when they are she wants them to know how much they are loved.

“Still Learning” – We all can relate to this song at one point in our lives. Halsey discusses her struggle to love herself despite the fact she is one of the most successful singers today. A couple of points she emphasizes in the song are troubles with self-esteem and self-love. The chorus of the song says, “But I’m still learning to love myself”. I appreciate this track so much because learning to love yourself is extremely important and this song emphasizes this perfectly.

“929” – The perfect way to close out her album. This song is just Halsey getting all her thoughts out. These thoughts include things about herself, her family, and her fans. At the beginning of the track, she shares something fun and personal about herself. She was born at 9:29 am on 9/29/1994.

You can catch Halsey on tour for the new album in various U.S. cities. Visit her website here to find a city near you, and stream Manic on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.

Written By: Mike Stark

Mike Stark