Problematic Popstar

Joe Kottke, Staff Writer

Ashley Frangipane, widely known by her stage name ‘Halsey,’ has just had her debut album Badlands go platinum in the U.S. It seems as if everything is going as planned to become a music industry legend.
Her career, which started in 2014 with the release of her debut single “Hurricane,” has endured countless controversial interviews, interactions with fans, difficulties with originality, and identity crises.
Ever since Halsey released her first cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” on Tumblr in 2012, Halsey has engrossed a relatively big following. Her fan-base began dwindling almost immediately after she stepped into the public eye.
On March 11th, 2015, Halsey was performing in Winnipeg when she asked a girl in front row if she was single. After the girl replied no, Halsey leaned down and began making out with the girl. A fan behind her captured this on video and posted it to social media. It went viral, causing the public media to backlash against Halsey for not asking for consent from the fifteen year old fan. Although not illegal, she was attacked for her moral values.
Halsey has also been accused of being a sellout. Since the beginning of her career she has been very public about her opinions, one of them being against animal cosmetic testing.
In March of 2016, Halsey announced she would be partnering with MAC Cosmetics to release a line of lipstick, self titled “Halsey.” MAC, which is owned by the Estee Lauder Company, claims they do not test on animals except if “required by law,” but all MAC products are manufactured in China, where it is required. Halsey giving up what she believed in for a profit prompted outrage among social media activists and fans.
This, along with other forms of hate Halsey received on social media daily, allowed the world to see another side of her. Unlike other stars who get hate but don’t respond, Halsey gets into fights with her teenage fans. She makes fun of her fans’ professions, and gets into indirect Twitter fights with singers like Melanie Martinez.
Even her tweets that aren’t related to an argument are problematic. She once tweeted “Just got my makeup done by the artist who does Glee and Gossip Girl. Looking like a hot trani mess,” refering to transgender people wearing makeup.
All the controversy around her Twitter ultimately ended in her deactivating and reactivating it multiple times, and finally letting it go unused.
That isn’t where her Twitter controversy stops, though. Haters of Halsey discovered her old Twitter account from her teenage years that is now unused. On the account, there are selfies of her with a Harry Styles poster and tweets quoting Ariana Grande, even though she stated in an interview with Billboard she was a “lost stoner kid,”who listened to Biggie Smalls and Nirvana.
Also around the time when she posted these photos, she claimed in an iHeartRadio interview that she “was a struggling homeless teen who used music as a way to make money.” However the account also shows pictures of her piles of clothes, and Tweets about her going to school, showing she has lied about her past amongst other things.
Halsey, a record label puppet, has used these types of lies and methods to gain popularity and sales among young teen fans. In 2015 she conducted an interview with Billboard. During the interview, she called herself “Tri-Bi,” bragging about the fact that she is biracial, bisexual and bipolar to become more relatable to her fans. She was widely criticized for romanticizing bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. She later retracted the statement and denied ever making it.
Many try to look past her personality and focus solely on the music, but there are flaws in her music capabilities too.
Accusations of her singing abilities began after videos leaked of her singing in a Philadelphia mall in 2013. The video shows Halsey attempting to sing Blink-182’s “I Miss You” a capella but failing miserably, weakly singing the entire song flat. She even tries to get her fans to sing along to cover up her voice, saying “like, you guys can totally sing along with me.” Her management attempted to delete all videos of the performance to keep Halsey’s reputation, but fans who have it saved continually post it, since it has now become an internet meme.
Halsey has listed artists like Arctic Monkeys and Lana Del Rey as her influences, and even posted a cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Radio” in 2012.
Many believe that Halsey has stated Biggie Smalls and Nirvana as influences only for the grunge rock aesthetic. In one of Lana’s songs “Queen of Disaster,” she sings “you play me Biggie Smalls and then my first Nirvana song.” Similarly in Halsey’s “New Americana” (which sounds very alike to Lana’s “National Anthem”) she sings “raised on Biggie and Nirvana.”
Could all of it be coincidence? Maybe. But Halsey has overstepped the line of being inspired has voyaged into the realm of copying.
Halsey has proved that all media coverage is good coverage, engrossing over a million albums sold and over three million followers on Twitter, but this does not mean she is a talented and attention deserving artist.