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New York-bred singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Halsey made a swift ascent from the underground to become a global, hitmaking star with their dramatic blend of pop, electronic, and alternative rock. Making their major-label debut in 2014 on Astralwerks with the double-platinum Badlands, they soon became a fixture at the top of the charts after scoring an unexpected smash hit with electronic duo the Chainsmokers, "Closer." Sophomore effort Hopeless Fountain Kingdom secured their first U.S. album chart-topper, while late-2010s singles "Bad at Love," "Him & I," and "Eastside" racked up platinum certifications and kept them firmly planted on the radio. 2020's Manic included "Without Me," Halsey's first number one single as a solo artist. In 2021, they took an artistic leap on the concept album If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power, produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Born Ashley Nicolette Frangipane in Edison, New Jersey, the artist grew up playing violin, viola, cello, and guitar, while also taking inspiration from the likes of Alanis Morissette, Justin Bieber, and Brand New. That cross-genre spirit helped inform their later work, a dark and emotive pop blend that found an audience in both the mainstream and alternative spheres. Taking their stage moniker from a Brooklyn L train subway stop, they debuted with the single "Ghost," which resulted in a deal with Capitol-owned electronic/dance label Astralwerks in early 2014. Their debut EP, Room 93, arrived that October. In 2015, Halsey released their debut full-length album, Badlands, which featured production from Lido, the Futuristics, Son Lux, and others. In addition to "Ghost," the album also included the hit "New Americana," "Colors," and "Castle," a version of which also appeared on the soundtrack to The Huntsman: Winter's War. Earning early comparisons to Chvrches and Lorde, Badlands debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and sold well, ultimately achieving double-platinum certification status.
Continued success came in 2016, when their featured appearance on the Chainsmokers' "Closer" helped push the single to the top of the charts around the world, eventually receiving dozens of platinum certifications in the U.S., Australia, the U.K., and beyond.
In 2017, Halsey returned with the single "Not Afraid Anymore," which was featured on the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. Three months later, they released "Now or Never," the first single from their sophomore album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Featuring collaborations with Sia, Greg Kurstin, and Benny Blanco, the LP landed in June 2017, topping the Billboard 200 and producing another Top Five hit single, "Bad at Love." A remix of the LP's dark pop single "Alone," featuring Big Sean and Stefflon Don, arrived in March 2018. Later that year, they were featured on Blanco's solo single "Eastside" alongside singer Khalid. The track became a Hot 100 hit and added to their late-year boost: Halsey was featured in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (voicing Wonder Woman) as well as the Lady Gaga vehicle A Star Is Born. By the end of the year, they notched their first number one single as a lead artist, "Without Me," featuring an interpolation of Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River." The song was eventually featured on their third album, Manic, in 2020.
Halsey started 2019 with a series of high-profile collaborative singles including "11 Minutes" with Travis Barker and Yungblud, and "Boy with Luv" with K-pop superstars BTS. Promotion for their third full-length, Manic, started in earnest that spring. Singles "Nightmare" and "Graveyard" marked a darker, more introspective direction for the set, while third single "Without Me" had already become their first number one-charting single as a main artist. Manic finally saw release in January 2020 and reached number two on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum in the U.S. An EP, Collabs, arrived in July and saw Halsey teaming up with artists like Juice Wrld ("Life's a Mess") and Marshmello ("Be Kind"). Badlands (Live from Webster Hall), a concert album celebrating the five-year anniversary of their debut, was released one month later.
After a particularly fruitful year, Halsey returned in 2021 with their fourth studio effort, the Grammy-nominated If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power, a conceptual album focusing on pregnancy and childbirth. Produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the August arrival was paired with an accompanying film of the same name, which was released in conjunction with the album. In addition to Reznor and Ross' familiar sonic touches, If I Can't Have Love... also featured the talents of Lindsey Buckingham, Dave Grohl, Dave Sitek, and many more. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Timothy Monger
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