Foothill Technology High School

Album review: Halsey’s ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom’ is saturated with colorful, cinematic perfection

A dystopian, post-apocalyptic city. Two households, one feud. Two star-crossed lovers, one hopeless story.

Now, you may be thinking of “Romeo and Juliet,” but this is actually the story weaved cleverly throughout the 16 songs of Halsey’s sophomore album, “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.”

Using the themes from Shakespeare’s world-renowned play, singer and songwriter Halsey took the original story and made it her own. Two years after the release of “BADLANDS,” her debut album, “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,” has redefined the genre of alternative, the story of star-crossed lovers and the music Halsey makes.

Because “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” may be so different from her first album, it is hard to compare with her other releases. This is a new sound, a new age of Halsey that breaks past the standards set by “BADLANDS.”

Halsey showcases her masterful creative touch and emotionally chilling, raspy vocals as she explores this new world and new story that encompasses the album. As the character she portrays in the plotline matures, the tone changes to match the progressing story, ending with a different sound than what it started with.

Every song has a unique sound, a unique glimpse of what makes up this dystopian, Shakespearean world she created, and who she sings to be. The diversity in style, however, formulates something even better; the different sounds come together to give the album its own unique sound that can’t be defined.

Halsey’s intense and poetic breakup tale of an album opens with “The Prologue,” which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the songs and establishes the direct connection between the album’s story and “Romeo and Juliet.” In the first half of the song, she reads the prologue from the original play in a dramatic fashion, setting up the wild world and story of the two star-crossed lovers.

The second single she released from the album, “Eyes Closed,” is one of the strongest on the tracklist. Opening with a somber, atmospheric sound and soft wailing tune that turns into the chilling repetitive chord of an electric guitar, the song will already make you shiver. Throughout the song, she explores the theme of unrequited love and continues to stun listeners with her haunting, obviously vulnerable vocals.

“Heaven In Hiding” is also one of my favorites, as she explores the boundaries of her voice and creates a foot stomping masterpiece of a song. She sings, “I can put on a show, I can put on a show / Don’t you see what you’re finding? / This is Heaven in hiding.”

The most iconic song of the album has to be “Now or Never.” This may be because it was the first single released in April, but Halsey used it to introduce everyone to the story of the star-crossed lovers, especially with the music video that pays tribute to Baz Luhrmann’s version of “Romeo and Juliet.” Despite being criticized for sounding similar to Rihanna’s “Needed Me,” the song will be seen as a classic on “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,” and might be the upcoming vibe of the summer.

What really sets the album apart from everything else, however, are the two songs “Sorry” and “Devil In Me.” Halsey reveals her vulnerable side through the piano ballad of “Sorry,” and shows her raw vocals in “Devil In Me,” which she co-wrote with Sia Furler (known as “Sia”). You can hear Furler’s influence in Halsey’s voice as she sings, but most importantly, “Devil In Me” allows her story and character to come full circle at the end of the album.

Personally, my favorite two songs on the album are “Walls Could Talk” and “Strangers.” These two are reminiscent of “BADLANDS,” yet strengthen the difference between the two and continue the development of the story.

As you could tell, there is so much to say about Halsey’s cinematic masterpiece of an album. Most notably, other than her talent, is the ability to make her songs sound like a specific color. In “BADLANDS,” she specifically aimed to have her songs sound blue and pink, which was the color scheme of the cover. In “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,” her songs sound like the colors of red and gold, which are, consequently, part of the cover color scheme. Making something sound like a color takes pure talent and vision, only adding to the perfection of Halsey’s creativity.

Stunning with atmospheric tunes, head-banging jams, and emotionally chilling songs, “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” is purely poetic and cinematic. Only Halsey can create a visual narrative with ease through this work of art, which proves how talented she actually is. Despite the theme of being “hopeless,” everyone should be hopeful for the future of Halsey.

At this rate, as everything she releases gets better, who knows what she will accomplish and create next. But I’m sure it will be one heck of a colorful and cinematic experience.

Hopeless Fountain Kingdom:

  1. “The Prologue”
  2. “100 Letters”
  3. “Eyes Closed”
  4. “Heaven In Hiding”
  5. “Alone”
  6. “Now Or Never”
  7. “Sorry”
  8. “Good Mourning”
  9. “Lie”
  10. “Walls Could Talk”
  11. “Bad At Love”
  12. “Don’t Play”
  13. “Strangers”
  14. “Angel On Fire”
  15. “Devil In Me”
  16. “Hopeless”

–Joshua Modglin

Featured Image Credit:  Astralwerks

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