A powerhouse of a person, there is very little that Halsey cannot do. A parent, beauty guru, social justice advocate and musical polymath, their creative bounds seem to be greater than many of her contemporaries, rarely resting on sonic laurels. Whether by accident or design, they have become a pop megastar since bursting onto the scene in 2014, but also one who has played with darkness, wearing both her hardship and myriad influences on her sleeve. Along the way, she’s also found time to feature on some era-defining hits with some very famous genre-crossing friends, including collaborations with BTS, Justin Bieber and The Chainsmokers.

Below AP examines Halsey’s work alone, ranking the albums in their catalog.

Read more: Listen to Halsey’s new solo version of Post Malone collab “Die 4 Me”

5. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2017) 

After the debut success of Badlands, Halsey had lofty ambitions for Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, but there was something about the Romeo & Juliet concept that just felt a little overwrought. From the hyper-literal “Prologue” to lead single “Now or Never” (which sounded suspiciously like Rihanna’s “Needed Me”), this collection of songs certainly proved Halsey could write a chart-friendly hit. But it came without her usual grit and experimental influences.. There was more doom and gloom on the record than expected, however, “Strangers”, a skittering, synthy duet with Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui, did allow Halsey’s bisexuality to come to the forefront, a key point of connection with their growing fanbase. 

4. Room 93 (2014) 

Released when Halsey was just 20, her debut EP Room 93 was the perfect introduction for anybody who hadn’t yet witnessed her New York -based come-up. Opener “Is There Somewhere” is the highlight: sparse, melancholy electronica that compliments the emptiness felt in the relationship she describes: “Your lips hang heavy underneath me/ And I promised myself I wouldn’t let you complete me”. But debut single “Ghost” (later included on Badlands) also showed early shaping of the quintessential experimental Halsey sound; mixing elements of rap, trap, emo and even a hint of chorus calypso to create something intriguing. 

3. Badlands (2015)

A concept album loosely inspired by visions of a dystopian future, Badlands showcased Halsey’s early blue-haired ambition, exploring metaphors of mental health in innovative ways. For a debut, it truly felt like a disturbance to industry trends, blending electronics, synth and the kind of dark songwriting that has since gone on to influence the likes of GAYLE, Nessa Barrett and Chloe Moriondo. It’s booming, moody drop of a chorus, “Castle” even feels like it might have paved the way for Billie Eillish, while “Roman Holiday” nodded towards hope and overcoming painful memories to build something better. And then of course there was “New Americana” not a fave of Halsey’s own these days, but an endearingly-direct millennial mission statement for those raised on bothBiggie and Nirvana”. 

2. Manic (2020)

Striking a better balance than Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, Manic felt like the moment where Halsey hit the sweet spot between commerciality and creativity. With its trap beat and tragic lyrics, “Without Me” was the undisputed smash of that summer, interpolating Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River” to create a new take on a doomed relationship. “Killing Boys” saw them muster up strength over strings, while the country-tinged “You Should Be Sad” took a sobering bird’s eye view: “I gotta get it off my chest/Got no anger, got no malice/Just a little bit of regret.” Even the guest vocalists on this record felt like they made more sense; Dominic Fike, Alanis Morisette, Juice Wrld and Suga from BTS brought plenty of their own personality without entirely taking over the show, proving Halsey’s alchemic eye.

1. If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power (2021)

As its epic title insinuated, Halsey wasn’t messing around on If I Can’t Have Love… An album of Game Of Thrones proportions, working with Trent Reznor on the production brought a heaviness matched only by her growth as a storyteller, exploring motherhood and vengeance with big, chunky bombast. The metronomic, grinding pace of “I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God” is equal parts catchy and ominous, while “Girl is a Gun” is pitched somewhere between hyperpop and drum’n’bass. Elsewhere, “Easier Than Lying” channels the tension and heat of Paramore’s “Let The Flames Begin”, building until it becomes almost unbearable in its fury. A highlight of Halsey’s live set, it’s the moment to leave everything behind in the moshpit, to let the pain of betrayal scream. And what artist wouldn’t want their most recent album to be their most cathartic best? If this is Halsey in full power mode, there is no knowing where they might go next. 


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