Live albums are something very special and powerful. I never took the time to discuss them maybe because what they represent is hard to put into words.

When Halsey released Badlands: Live From Webster Hall I was once again convinced how important those releases are. It made me go back to the first time I heard the stunning album, the first time I saw the artist live, and once again reminded me how much of an accomplishment Badlands is not only for the artist but for the entire music world.

This blog post is dedicated to the passion, talent, and perseverance of Halsey, to the genius of Badlands, and to the magic of live albums.

Halsey is an artist with immense significance not only in the music world but as a public figure with high social influence. Her status of a symbol of empowerment and inspiration for her generation, a bold feminist, and activist speak for themselves.

When it comes to music, you can spot her genius even on the first listen of any record. Starting from her debut EP Room 93an incredibly sensual and touching romantic narrative, through conceptually refined storytelling of Badlands and Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, all the way to the drastically mature and honest Manic, the artist’s thoughts and experiences take clear shape and form.

You can read my thoughts on the latest Halsey album here 

What makes her exceptional are the overwhelming amount of detail, personal references, transparent retelling of intimate stories, and outstanding metaphors she uses in her music. You can not only understand but also feel the emotions she is conveying with her art. That is how you know an artist is doing their job well – the music makes you feel things you weren’t prepared for.

The best part about Halsey’s music? You discover new details that clarify meaning and alter each song every time you replay it. A specific line can open up an entirely new world when you view it with a different perspective than usual.

I was today years old when I grasped the full meaning of Colors and its dedication to Matty Healy

I got enchanted by the artist when I first heard the debut full-length Badlands back in 2015. It is still one of my favourite records, holding a very special place in my heart. Every time I listen to it, I go back to the first time I heard it – the state of mind I had and the exact way I felt when I pressed play. 

Despite having it on heavy repeat for over five years, I still keep finding new details in the tracks to this day. And this goes for all of Halsey’s releases – she manages to unite clear concepts with deep details to allow listeners to rediscover songs constantly. I doubt we will ever grasp the full meaning of any track she has released.


Badlands is the s*it

There are way too many things to say about Badlands. Way too many aspects to explore and way too much depth to get into.

But what makes it unique is what it represents. Badlands is not just an album, it is a whole world polished by storytelling, metaphors, and symbolism which paint an accurate picture of Ashley’s mind at that time.

At the age of only 19 Halsey did something every musician would be proud of – she disregarded reality and welcomed listeners into her mind by building a fully-fledged world supported by immersive storytelling. Badlands was the realm of a desolate and lonely mind, a dystopian society which Halsey had to find a way to escape from.

Badlands dives into the science of sound. Throughout the production, mixing, and mastering process, we attempted to create space with sound, so as if when you close your eyes you can actually feel the parameters of the room around you. For me, it was about creating a universe and making it so that people felt like they were actually being transported somewhere.

Halsey on the making of Badlands

The debut full-length is impressive not only because of the outstanding concept and storytelling elements. The sound and topics featured in the tracklist are solid reasons for its success.

Soundwise Badlands could be associated with alternative, electro-pop, and dark-pop – an intriguing and memorable combination of sounds fitting the topic of each song. Each track on the record creates the specific to Halsey atmosphere we didn’t know we would grow to love so much back then.

As the album represents the artist’s headspace, it is naturally filled with many interesting themes. Halsey openly discusses her vices, peculiar experiences, heartaches and joyful romances.

She doesn’t forget to boldly expose oppression and sexism in the most badass way possible during Hold Me Down or point out the shift of generations in New Americana. The rising popularity and influence she gained after Room 93 are also discussed in the opener Castle under another badass and confident beat featuring some of the sickest drops on the record.

A large part of it is dedicated to intimate romantic feelings or lustful experiences. Understandably, those events leave permanent effects on one’s personality – Halsey explores the consequences of both good and bad sides of love quite well.

Some of the romantic tracks on Badlands are related to a special encounter for Halsey. Colors (including the mesmerizing pt. 2), Strange Love, Haunting, possibly even Young God seem to be (some confirmed to be) remarks towards The 1975’s lead singer Matty Healy.

The relationship between the two music icons appears to have been deep and emotional. Halsey openly talks about her experiences, the changes they brought to her mentality, and the way she felt both while intoxicated by love and suffering the separation.

That is not all there is to it – Badlands proves to be versatile with features of other important for the artist experiences. Hurricane openly talks about her relationship with a Brooklyn f*ckboy and how it led to her appreciating her self-worth. Roman Holiday and Drive serve as a longing departure away from the madness of Badlands and explore love as a positive experience filled with excitement and adventure. Gasoline and Control, on the other hand, delve into a different part of the artist’s life. They dissect her mental headspace and expose the bi-polar disorder Halsey struggles with.


Badlands: Live From Webster Hall

It has been five whole years since the release of the album that made Halsey known to the masses. Choosing to return to the era for the first live album seems like the appropriate decision.

2020 is a good year for Halsey fans. We experienced Manic at the very start of the year (January 17th) and some of us were even lucky enough to taste one of the artist’s grandest tours to this day. I cannot begin to describe the scope of the Manic Tour live show – the energy, passion, and the transformation of the world around the audience was simply magical.

In late August the artist blessed her fans once again. She took us back to the iconic Badlands era that started it all for her (and for most of us as well). Badlands: Live From Webster Hall is the first Halsey live album – it transports listeners to the one-night event of 2019 where the record was celebrated in all its glory.

Magic!

I actually find it a little strange I never discussed live albums before. Those types of releases are very special. They capture the untamed energy, beautiful chaos, empowering singalongs, talking breaks, the unique atmosphere – everything a live show consists of is transmitted into an audio (or video) recording that makes you a little closer to the actual experience. Even if you never saw a live show before you can tell it is a whole new level of artist-fan connection and music consummation.

Badlands: Live from Webster Hall is no exception. In fact, it is one great example of the magic of live albums. It brings all the stunning elements of a Halsey concert to life. If you had the luck of seeing her perform in front of your eyes those moments will return as vivid flashbacks during your listening session.

All the elements of the magic of a Halsey show are encapsulated on the release. The small improvisations, goosebumps-giving singalongs, and even the charming talking breaks – something I find very important for live shows. Those talking breaks give the concert experience a unique touch – another thing you will carry with yourself forever, apart from the unforgettable feeling of singing your favourite songs together with the artist and thousands of strangers in unison.

Naturally, every concert has a different vibe and emotional outpour. The talking breaks featured in this show are a good example of how passionate Halsey is and how much she values interaction. During the four breaks, she gives speeches of empowerment and encouragement during tough times, self-reflects and shares humble wisdom, gives the audience pieces of personal history and intimate details of her life, and of course, hypes the audience up for the unforgettable show.

We’re here because we are strong in the face of defeat, we’re here because we’re tiny little babies who cry about everything, we’re here because we can feel it in our hearts and we turn to the person next to us and we see them smiling from the bottom of their fucking soul about the same thing that is making you happy in this very fucking moment.

From Tiny Little Babies


This was supposed to be a short recap of Badlands: Live From Webster Hall. However, listening to live album and going back to the studio recording to get a better grip of what I want to say unintentionally gave birth to a lot more emotions and thoughts than I anticipated.

Music is powerful, concerts are even stronger, and live albums are an important medium transmitting this power and emotion. Halsey’s first (hopefully not the last) live record is something I think should be celebrated. And so should Badlands – the start of it all and the clear indicator of how important Halsey would become for the music world and her generation’s empowerment.


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