Halsey (born Ashley Nicolette Frangipane in 1994) was frustrated when critics mistook her defining single, “New Americana,” from her 2015 debut BADLANDS, as an aspirational anthem rather than the satire of American pop culture she intended. But this LA-by-way-of-New Jersey songwriter has always mingled cynicism with awe: You don’t post a parody of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” to YouTube if you don’t crave that glamour a little bit. And whatever she had intended, Halsey’s forays into early vlogger culture made her a star without sacrificing the circumspect side she learned as a young woman living on New York City’s streets. In the wake of Lorde and Lana Del Rey, she helped shift the outcasts and rebels towards pop’s center. Even as she’s progressed to Billboard highs and Grammy nods, Halsey continues to straddle that uneasy divide. One minute, she’s working with lotharios like The Weeknd and The Chainsmokers; the next, she’s rewriting Romeo and Juliet as a bisexual epic on her second album, 2017’s hopeless fountain kingdom, and using her platform to elevate the issues that touched her as a younger woman. Call it coming full circle: She’s created a new American standard for a generation of fans who see themselves in her image.
BORNSeptember 29, 1994