By Nicole Zamlout
More often than not, a piece of music is powerful, but it only becomes brilliant when it is stitched back into the context of a movie, a musical or album. This is the case with Halsey’s new album “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.” Each song alone makes you feel a myriad of emotions, however when listened to in order, it weaves a story of love, betrayal and acceptance.
The themes from the album seem to borrow from classic literature. Most explicitly, “The Prologue” begins the album by reading the prologue to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” This tells the listener that the album is a story of lost love. However, the love lost here was not soft and romantic, and the end was not tragic like the abrupt end of the lives of Shakespeare’s lovers. But instead, the album explores the aftermath of a blessed and needed end. While the end of a toxic relationship should bring joy, it is rife with sorrow.
Another great example of her allusions to literature is in the song, “Angel on Fire,” which is inspired by the novel, “The Great Gatsby.” Just like Jay Gatsby fades from the party scene, Halsey is similarly forgotten. She is no longer the fierce, fiery lover she had become in “Heaven in Hiding.”
Rather, she is a shell of herself, anxious and removed from her own life. She longs for the attention she once held, but she also longs for recovery from the spiral her life has fallen into.
An endless cycle of finding love and abandoning it consumed her life, and she is now trying to find meaning again.
Alongside the allusions, the album’s use of edited music and distorted sound is quite unusual as well, which helps add to the story being told.
In “Prologue,” her singing voice is edited to give listeners an insight into her hazy life, where she lives in a state of constant partying alongside different partners.
In “Good Mourning,” her voice and the music is warped slightly to add to the uneasy feeling she is experiencing about facing yet another day.
The twisted musical edits scattered throughout the album show that she knows some of the things she says are not true, and it symbolizes the feelings she is trying to bury and their fight to be seen.
These bits and pieces are only a part of what make the album an amazing track. The story of someone who has lost a relationship — toxic or otherwise — is a story we can all relate to.
We can find connections to our own experiences in her tragedy.
The fear of the future, the regret over not returning affection to someone, and the sorrow we feel after losing romantic partners is something we all have faced time and time again.
The album, much like the famous play it emulates, is a story of loss and love. It is less idyllic, less romantic, but no less true. It is a lovely tragedy for the ages.