Singer-songwriter Halsey released her third studio album, Manic, on Jan. 16th. The 16-track album dives into the singer’s emotional past, from moments of growth to introspective epiphanies. This is her first album cover to include her portrait, perhaps indicative of how deeply Halsey dives into past trials and tribulations. The album also includes collaborations with SUGA from BTS, Alanis Morisette and Dominic Fike, as well as several genres of music.
Manic opens with “Ashley,” the title derived from the singer’s real name, Ashley Frangipane. Throughout the song, her voice is in a hoarse whisper, which truly brings out the pain in the song, particularly in mock-screamo verses. The lyrics deconstruct the singer's brain, covering her deepest thoughts and her loss of self due to relationships and fame. “Took my heart and sold it out to a vision that I wrote myself/ And I don’t just wanna be somebody in America just fighting the hysteria/ I only wanna die somedays,” Halsey sings in the first verse.
“Ashley,” ends with a snippet from one of the singers favorite movies, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Kate Winslet’s character in the film talks about men using her as a method of completing them. She references the film a second time in the album with the second song “clementine,” named after Winslet’s character in the movie. “Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive, I'm just a f**ked up girl who's lookin' for my own peace of mind don't assign me yours,” Winslet said in the closing of the song.
The album is broken up by three interludes that include guest artists singing alongside Halsey, titled “Dominic's Interlude,” “Alanis’ Interlude” and “SUGA’s Interlude.” Dominic Fike, a Florida based rapper, has his own interlude that is upbeat, despite intense lyrics that speak of past relationships. “Your eyes are fragile and timeless/ it's beautiful, there's power in the words you whisper/ he treats you so cold and mindless,” Fike sings.
The last interlude features Korean music sensation SUGA, a rapper, from the dynamic KPOP group BTS. Halsey opens the song with a crooning, slow ballad that very quickly transitions to SUGA’s fast paced rapping. This transition happens quite a few times throughout the song, bouncing from Halsey to SUGA. The swaps from Halsey’s slow singing in English to SUGA’s intensely fast rapping in Korean makes the song more lively despite its rather sad topic of struggling through fame and constantly working, something both singers can attest to.
Halsey’s “Finally // beautiful stranger” is the biggest contrast from the rest of the album and her traditional music in general. It’s a country-esque ballad with a mesmerizing acoustic guitar and a sweet but simple melody. The lyrics are gorgeous and describe a vivid tale of two strangers falling for each other despite their reserves for getting involved with someone they barely know. She uses metaphors to add color to this innocent and pure love story of the singer making the decision that she is safe enough to fall in love with this stranger. “You stopped me in my tracks and put me right in my place/ Used to think that loving meant a painful chase/ But you're right here now and I think you'll stay,” Halsey sings.
In “3am,” Halsey mixes rock and alternative with a hint of her own musical style perfectly. Including heavy drums and an intense fast paced chorus, the song is the right amount of angsty. The lyrics are angry and chaotic, referencing late night escapades in bars resulting in drunk-calling every number in her phone so she doesn’t feel alone. “And I’m stumblin’ drunk, getting in a car/ My insecurities are hurtin’ me/ Someone please come flirt with me,” Halsey sings. The song ends with a voicemail John Mayer left Halsey commenting on her rise to fame.
In Halsey’s previous albums, she developed characters and themes such as Romeo and Juliet in her last album “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” and the creation of a fantastical world in her debut album “Badlands.” This album is the first time she has turned the lens on herself in a realistic landscape, analyzing her own life and the things she has been through. This album is a fantastic reflection of her talents as a performer and as a writer with remarkable lyrics and a wide range of genres of everything from country to hard rock to slow ballads.