The year begins with a healthy dose of electropop, courtesy of Halsey. I didn’t get into her record “Badlands” until it kept cropping up on AOTY and 2015 wrap-up lists her and there, and I’d heard “New Americana” enough to be intrigued by her style. I wound up listening to this record at least once a day this week, hooked on its hooks, and getting into the dark, moody vibe that’s bound to take over radio playlists in 2016. I know I “shouldn’t” like it. But it’s edgy enough and too fun to turn off. She’s got a real style, one that is modern and current and cool.
I dig the overall place these songs are coming from, overproduced and underdeveloped as they are. Between the likes of Halsey, Lorde and Alessia Cara, there’s this growing cadre of female pop singers who write these really cutting, wry songs, ones about ditching the trendy scene and embracing weirdness. They’re cherishing introspection and originality over boy-chasing and booty-shaking. I’m into it, no doubt not as much as I would be if this was the narrative when I was in high school. But I’m glad that today’s high school girls get to hear these messages in mainstream music scene from the flavor-of-the-month pop stars, who are making it the norm to reject what you’re sold and oppose patriarchy, an attitude that’s for far too long been considered anti-establishment when equality ought to be the message from the top down.
“I sold my soul to a three-piece
And he told me I was holy
He’s got me down on both knees
But it’s the devil that’s trying to
Hold me down, hold me down
Sneaking out the back door,
Make no sound
Knock me out, knock me out
Saying that ‘I want more, this is what I live for.’“
~Hold Me Down