Ashley Nicolette Frangipane (born September 29, 1994), known professionally as Halsey (/ˈhɔːl.zi/), is an American singer-songwriter. Her stage name is a reference to the Halsey Street station of the New York City Subway in Brooklyn, and an anagram of her first name. Gaining attention from self-released music on social media platforms, Frangipane was signed by Astralwerks in 2014. She toured with acts such as The Kooks and Imagine Dragons to promote her debut extended play, Room 93 (2014). Her debut studio album, Badlands (2015), was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Four singles were released from the album, all of which achieved minor commercial success.
Halsey achieved success with the release of "Closer" (2016), a collaboration with The Chainsmokers. The song topped the charts in major music markets. Her second studio album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2017), consisted of more "radio friendly" music than her prior releases. It became her first album to top the US Billboard 200. The album was preceded by the release of "Now or Never", which became her first top 20 entry on the Billboard Hot 100 as a lead artist. She embarked on the Hopeless Fountain Kingdom World Tour to promote the record.
Life and career
1994–2014: Early life and career beginnings
Ashley Nicolette Frangipane was born on September 29, 1994 in Edison, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Nicole Frangipane, who works for security in a hospital, and Chris Frangipane, who manages a car dealership. Halsey has two younger brothers, Sevian and Dante. She is of Italian and Hungarian descent on her mother's side and African-American on her father's side. Growing up, Halsey played the violin, viola, and cello until moving onto the acoustic guitar when she was 14. Halsey was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of seventeen, following a suicide attempt that led to a seventeen-day stint in a psychiatric hospital. She identified herself in 2015 as "tri-bi": biracial, bisexual, and bipolar but has since distanced herself from the claim, saying she dislikes the term. Frangipane began posting videos to social media sites such as Tumblr and YouTube in 2012, including a parody of Taylor Swift's song "I Knew You Were Trouble" (2012) inspired by Swift's relationship with Harry Styles. She has admitted to recreational drug use beginning when she was seventeen, claiming she was an "unconventional child" in part due to her bipolar disorder. It was during this time that she began dating a man addicted to heroin. Upon finishing high school, Frangipane enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design, though opted to attend community college instead upon realizing she could not afford the tuition. She eventually dropped out of college, and as a result was kicked out of her home by her parents.
Frangipane began living in a basement with a number of her friends, who she described as "degenerate stoners" that she had known through her boyfriend at the time. When describing this period of her life, Halsey stated "I remember one time I had $9 in my bank account, and bought a four-pack of Red Bull and used it to stay up overnight over the course of two or three days, because it was less dangerous to not sleep than it was to sleep somewhere random and maybe get raped or kidnapped." She played numerous acoustic shows in different cities under various stage names. She chose "Halsey" as her moniker because it is an anagram of her real name as well as a street in Brooklyn where she spent a lot of time as a teenager. Frangipane eventually went to live with her grandmother for a period of time. Having written poems for years, she began writing songs as a means of bringing awareness to her poems. She eventually went to a party and met a producer who asked her to collaborate on a song with him. The result, a song about her ex-boyfriend titled "Ghost", was posted by Halsey on SoundCloud several weeks after it was recorded. Within hours, the song gained online popularity, and she was subsequently contacted by several record labels. She ultimately signed with Astralwerks, feeling that they gave her more creative freedom than other labels that contacted her.
2014–2016: Debut studio album and breakthrough
While working on her debut studio album, Halsey toured with The Kooks in 2014. During this time, she began an on-again-off-again relationship with Norwegian producer Lido. Halsey released her debut extended play, Room 93 (2014), on October 27. The album charted in the lower regions of the Billboard 200 and at number three on the Top Heatseekers chart. She performed songs from the album at South by Southwest in 2015, where she was the most tweeted about performer of the night. She embarked on a co-headlining tour with Young Rising Songs that March, and in June opened for Imagine Dragons on their Smoke + Mirrors Tour (2015) during the North American leg. Halsey became pregnant while on tour promoting her upcoming album, though suffered a miscarriage in July 2015. She attributed her hectic work schedule to the miscarriage, which she did not publicly speak of until 2016.
Her debut studio effort, Badlands (2015), was released on August 28, 2015. Halsey co-wrote all of the songs on the album, while production was handled by a number of producers including then-boyfriend, Lido. Halsey described the record as a concept album about a dystopian society that was a metaphor for her mental state at the time. Badlands was met with a generally mixed to positive reaction, with Joe Levy of Rolling Stone citing Halsey as a "new popstar with a knack for sticky imagery". The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first week sales of 97,000 copies. It was reported in April 2017 that the album had sold over 504,000 copies in the United States, and has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The record saw similar success in territories such as the United Kingdom, where it debuted at number nine and went on to sell over 100,000 copies in the country. Badlands spawned four commercial singles, which achieved minor chart success worldwide; all four have been certified gold by the RIAA since their release. The project was further promoted by Halsey's Badlands Tour (2015–16) and her spot as the opening act for select date's of The Weeknd's The Madness Fall Tour (2015).
Halsey appeared on the song "The Feeling" alongside Justin Bieber for his fourth studio album, Purpose (2015). The song was not officially released, though entered the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100 and earned certifications in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. She was one of four female performers to partner with MAC cosmetics for their Future Forward line; Halsey released a lipstick named after herself. The Senior Vice President and Group Creative Director of the company, James Gager, said "It feels like a great thing to be able to support artists who are breaking through but aren’t necessarily at the top top, to push them forward." In May 2016, Halsey released the song "Tokyo Narita (Freestyle)", produced by Lido. The song was a standalone track that served as a promotional single from Halsey. During this time she collaborated with The Chainsmokers on the single "Closer" (2016). The song went on to become one of the most successful singles of the year and became both acts' first song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The single earned a number of awards and accolades, including a nomination at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Halsey made a cameo appearance as herself in the seventh episode of the Showtime series Roadies (2016).
2017–present: Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
Halsey announced work on her second studio album prior to the release of Badlands (2015), with progress on the record continuing throughout 2016 and 2017. In January, she released the single "Not Afraid Anymore" (2017) for digital download; it appears on the soundtrack of the film Fifty Shades Darker (2017). Her second studio album, titled Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2017), was released on June 2. The album consisted of more "radio friendly" songs in comparison to her previous album, which she attributed to her desire to prove she was "more than capable" of creating "radio-ready" music. Much like her debut album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom is a concept album that revolves around a pair of lovers in a tale based on Romeo and Juliet; the project was inspired by her breakup with Lido. The album debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart with first week sales of 106,000 equivalent album units. The album was preceded by the release of the lead single "Now or Never" (2017), which became her highest-charting single to date as a lead artist. Two promotional singles were made available prior to the release of the album. To promote the record, Halsey embarked on the Hopeless Fountain Kingdom World Tour, which began on September 29, 2017.
Halsey participated in the mental health and suicide prevention awareness campaign called "I'm Listening", which was hosted by radio network Entercom and broadcast live on September 10, 2017.
Halsey is an electropop and synth-pop artist. Growing up, Halsey's father listened to The Notorious B.I.G., Slick Rick, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and 2Pac while her mother listened to The Cure, Alanis Morissette, and Nirvana. She says this has influenced her. Halsey called Panic! at the Disco the "band that changed [her] fucking life” and credits Lady Gaga for giving her the strength to be herself. Halsey has mentioned Long Island rock band Brand New as both an influence and a favorite of hers, once changing her biography on Instagram to "the devil and God are raging inside me", a reference to their third album of the same name. The biggest influence on her live performances is Adam Lazzara, the frontman of Taking Back Sunday, as she said, "One of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen is watching [Taking Back Sunday] live and watching Adam use that microphone as a prop and I thought yep, I’m gonna do that." Her other influences include Kanye West, The Weeknd, Amy Winehouse, and Bright Eyes, as well as the film directors Quentin Tarantino, Harmony Korine, and Larry Clark. She has said, "there's plenty of musicians that I love and respect, but I think that I'm the most inspired by cinema." The New York Times' Jon Caramanica noted "Halsey arrived as part of a slew of female pop rebels who emerged in the wake of Lorde's early-2010s recalibration of the genre’s operating hierarchies."
- The American Youth Tour (2015) (with Young Rising Sons)
Awards and nominations
|2015||MTV Europe Music Awards||Artist on the Rise||Herself||Nominated|
|2016||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Breakout Artist|
|NME Awards||Best New Artist|
|Billboard Women in Music||Rising Star||Won|
|2017||Grammy Awards||Best Pop Duo/Group Performance||"Closer" (with The Chainsmokers)||Nominated|
|Album of the Year||Purpose (as featured artist)|
|iHeartRadio Music Awards||Song of the Year||"Closer" (with The Chainsmokers)|
|Dance Song of the Year||Won|
|Billboard Music Awards||Top Hot 100 Song||Won|
|Top Selling Song||Nominated|
|Top Radio Song|
|Top Streaming Song (Audio)|
|Top Streaming Song (Video)|
|Top Dance/Electronic Song|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Pop Song||Nominated|
|Choice Breakout Artist||Herself|
|Choice Summer Female Artist|
|MTV Italian Music Awards||Best Video||"Closer" (with The Chainsmokers)||Won|
|Myx Music Awards||Best International Video||Won|
|American Music Awards||Favorite Pop/Rock Song||Nominated|
|Collaboration of the Year|