If you haven't been keeping up, for the last week or so, I've been following all the random clues that Halsey was distributing through her own account and the @visitbadlands account and piecing them together in this blog post. Those pieces came together to make the Webster Hall live album and fifth anniversary Badlands merch (all proceeds going to the employees of Webster Hall which is so amazing).
Badlands is one of my favorite Halsey albums, and I didn't get to experience the fan wave the first time around, so I've really cherished this experience and all the excitement it's brought. I wasn't sure what to think of a live album. Halsey is a truly amazing performer, but I've never been a huge fan of live albums. This one definitely changed that for me.
In a tweet when the album released on to streaming, Halsey wrote, "I miss performing for you live more than anything in the world so here I am. Right in your bedroom. Badlands Live From Webster Hall is out now."
I was supposed to see Halsey this summer. It meant a lot that she thought to do this for all of us. I wonder if this has been in the works for a while or if it was put together especially because tour ended up getting cancelled.
What makes this release so special (besides the fact that the live arrangements are stunning) is that they included her talking breaks in between the tracks. Halsey always has the most amazing words and advice to share in small moments on stage, and I love that they captured and included that. Now you can go to Spotify for a bit of affirmation from Halsey when you need it. From super meaningful, vulnerable moments to a track entitled "I'm Not Playing Closer", this album has a bit of everything.
Before I fully get into each track, I want to commend whoever did the mixing for this album. The crowd noise is controlled beautifully. There's enough to feel like you're being surrounded by a room full of people. You get that amazing warmth without losing the quality of her voice or the audio. It also pans from ear to ear in a fascinating way.
These tracks have so much life in them. Halsey's voice has another level of animation in it. She feeds off the crowd so much that every moment becomes extra powerful, extra emotional, extra vulnerable. There's just so much more here. You can feel the love and the strength being exchanged by everyone in the room. Every song hits so much harder, and that's why you have a live album. Somehow, even without watching her, Halsey makes the song glow in a new way in concert. Also, I wouldn't trade the talking tracks for anything. They're so special and important. This album is a true testimonial to her gift at performing live and reaching out to touch everyone in the audience because she manages to make an emotional performance for the listener even through their headphones.
This song is just on a different level in the album. The chanting from the radio clip on the website starts off this track. Then Halsey comes in and just hits the song with so much energy that you know you're about to be in for a wild ride.
This rendition of "Drive manages to have everything I loved in the recording and more. All the background driving noises are even more to the forefront here. Also, at the interlude at the start, you hear Halsey's cover of "I Walk the Line" mixed in with the door opening and keys in the ignition noises, and it's mixed so that it sounds like it's pouring out of a car radio. I'm such a sucker already for those layers in the production that I got way too excited about this edition.
One of the most powerful moments at any Halsey concert is towards the end of "Hurricane" when Halsey yells out "This song is a reminder that you do not belong to anyone". I love that we finally have a version with that message in it to play on repeat. As simple as it might seem, I think it's something people need to hear over and over and over again. That message, with all the emotion in Halsey's voice, makes the song so much more powerful.
I feel like I'm mentioning every song, and I'm seriously trying not to to keep this post a manageable length, but they're all so incredible (even the ones I'm not listing). I have to shout out "Roman Holiday", though, because the song just has a totally different energy. It's just so much more somehow than it was on the album (and I love it on the album already). The verses are extra sad and contemplative, the chorus is so much more elated. It feels warmer, and the energy of a crowd full of people who have so much love for the song takes it to another level. It's almost like the crowd has redefined the song and allowed it to become something new. It's no longer a Romeo and Juliet story but a celebration.
-Tiny Little Babies-
"Oh man, hi. You guys are so loud. I'm glad I have this moment to talk to you because this thing is going by so fast I can't even process what's happening... It's really exciting for me to play the album for you guys in this way because this is how I intended the album to be heard. I did these shows because I wanted you guys to know how much you mean to me. I also did them for myself because for the past couple months I've put out a lot of singles and some of them have changed my life forever, and I'm in the studio working on new music, and I wanted to remind myself that you guys are a group of people who love albums. You love stories, you love people. And all of us are here for the same reason, because we are strong in the face of defeat. We're here because we're tiny little babies who cry over everything. We're here because we can feel it in our hearts when we turn to the person next to us and we see them smiling from the bottom of their soul about the same fucking thing that is making you happy in this very moment. And in a world where it is so dangerous to have empathy- in a time where it is so dangerous to feel bad, to feel pain, to feel heart, because there is so much of it around us all the time when we turn on the news, when we look at the TV it's just pain fucking everywhere. It's just so hard to feel something. But you guys remind me that it's okay to do because when we do it, we do it together."
This whole thing honestly gave me chills. It's okay to feel things, because we'll feel them together. Also, what she said about turning to the person next to you perfect sums up exactly why I live for concerts and why I make all the music reaction videos and why I write these blog posts. I want to turn to the person next to me and know that I'll never be lone- that I'm not weird or strange or unloveable- because there are all these people out there who love the same thing I do, in the same way I do.
-Forget Her and Find Her-
I wrote this album when I was 19 years old. And I was going through a really tough time when I wrote it. You guys showed me that there were so many people who were going through the same things that I was going through. This album is really important to me because, when I wrote this album, I was so confident in myself. I knew who the fuck I was. I was 19 years old and I said "don't belong to no city don't belong to no fucking man, man". But I was so wrong because I was going to forget who I was and then find who I was and find her again; forget her and find her, forget her and find her. And I've learned to stop being so hard on myself for changing, for growing, and for learning. I don't usually like giving a ton of advice during my shows because what the fuck to I know that you don't know. I'm a disaster. But if I do give you one piece of advice right now, I want to remind you that if you lose yourself, it is never too late to find yourself again. And when you stumble upon the person you used to be, they will be so happy to see you.
Halsey would've totally had me bawling my eyes out if I was in that crowd. I'm always amazed at how she always knows exactly what to say to make you feel okay, even when you both know that everything is a mess. It's never too late to find your way back home.
It's so rare that people in the public eye, who we look up to, acknowledge their flaws and their past and their struggles so honestly. When they do, it always makes me love them more. I love these words, and I'm so happy I got to hear them.
We get a brand new version of "Coming Down"! This one is stripped, so it's just Halsey and her guitar. She calls it one of her favorite songs on the album. It takes on a whole new character as a simple guitar ballad. It's so cool because Badlands is such a heavily produced album, but Halsey is such a good songwriter that they translate across any genre or backing.
-I'm Not Playing Closer-
"Usually by now there's usually someone in like the sixth row who's like 'Shut the fuck up! Stop talking! Play the songs! Play "Closer"' I'm not fucking playing "Closer"".
I don't know why this is so funny, but it is (especially because she pulls out her Jersey accent for the impression). I can't imagine how annoying that would be to hearT from someone in the audience. I love how she can laugh at herself, though, too.
"Gasoline" is one of the best Halsey songs and she always makes it go off loud. She knows the crowd knows what's coming. It's so hyped up and electric and everyone's yelling "Do you call yourself a fucking hurricane like me" which just makes me smile because you can tell how much Halsey loves it.
-Some Kind of Stardust-
"I try really hard every fucking day to be the person that you guys believe that I am, and it's not easy all the time. Sometimes I fuck it up and I make mistakes. And I want you to know before I leave you that every single time I'm on this stage, all I can think is that I have absolutely no idea why you picked me. And sometimes I look at other musicians, I look at my peers, I look at my idols, and I think to myself they're made out of some kind of stardust that I am not made of and never will be made of. But it's times like this when I get on stage in a baggy fucking Pearl Jam T-shirt, I've got nothing but my band and some lights, and I know I'm not hitting every fucking note, and I know that I'm running out of breath, and I know that I'm talking far too much, and you guys fucking cheer anyway. I fucking love you."
It's amazing that Halsey can't see that she's made of stardust too. She is brilliant. But I think not seeing that is what keeps her so close to the rest of us.
-Is There Somewhere-
This is one of my favorite Halsey songs of all time. It's on Room 93, and she almost always plays it, and she almost always goes into the crowd during it. It makes me so happy that it's such a central points of all the shows. The whole thing is poetry. If you haven't, go read the lyrics. "Is there somewhere you can meet me?"
Halsey is one of the few people who always makes me feel less alone. Who makes me feel understood. Who makes me feel safe and loved and okay even when I'm a messy disaster. I hope she knows how much she really does mean to so many of us.
Thanks for reading this and talking about Badlands Webster Hall with me. As Halsey said, I'm glad there are ways we can smile from our souls to each other, even from our bedrooms. I hope you found this album as special as I did. If you want to hear all my thoughts on every song on Badlands, I filmed a reaction video to Badlands that went live today. You can watch it here or embedded down below. Also, if you want more of my Halsey coverage, I've linked it all down below.
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