Today is Halsey's birthday, as she mentions in one of her best songs, "929", and to start off the day, Halsey has already given all of us a present. Last night on Twitter, she hinted, "Tomorrow is my birthday so of course I have presents for you the whole week 🤍".
Tomorrow is my birthday so of course I have presents for you the whole week. 🤍— h (@halsey) September 28, 2020
One of those presents is probably a "forget me too" music video, but that might not be ready by this week. There's been plenty of hinting that it's coming though, especially from MGK on Twitter. Considering he and Halsey have been friends for almost a decade, I can't imagine they'd pass up the opportunity to make a video to mark their first song together.
1) glad we waited for this to be our first song— Blonde Don (@machinegunkelly) September 28, 2020
2) HAPPY early BIRTHDAY!!
3) sorry that my gift is asking you to come in for the music video on your day off https://t.co/jwypm0abOQ
10:30am: Update to this. Halsey dropped the music video for 929 featuring footage spanning her whole life from her baby years to adulthood. There are adorable childhood clips and significant moments like when she singed her first recording contract. It's so sweet and I loved how it was all framed in this virtual room with different footage playing from TVs, windows, and mirrors. It was a such a cool way to frame all the footage and show her growing up from a pink nursery to an adult room with a fancy make-up table. Mostly, when I watch these videos, though, I get jealous that everyone else has tons of footage of themselves as a baby.
One present that is certain, though, is that Halsey has released tons of extra Manic tracks on Spotify. If you click the Manic album there, you'll see a mix of tracks that were previously only on the Target Deluxe edition ("wipe your tears" and "I'm not mad") along with acoustic versions of a ton of tracks. Also on there now are "Be Kind" and two "Without Me" remixes. A couple of these acoustic versions we've heard before in her Magnum set on YouTube live, but it'll be awesome to be able to listen to them on Spotify and add them to playlists. Halsey is such an expressive artist, and the emotion in her voice really shines in these acoustic versions. Don't skip them. They demand a pair of some good earbuds and a quiet place to just absorb.
Today, I wanted to spend some time getting into these sorta new tracks. If you got the Target CD or listened to the pirated versions on Sound Cloud or YouTube, you're probably familiar with the songs, but you probably don't know them as well as the others. I really love "I'm not mad" in particular, and I can't wait to put it on every playlist. I figured she'd share them with us on streaming eventually considering all her previous deluxe tracks were shared eventually, but I wasn't expecting them today.
Getting into lyrics, "Wipe Your Tears" has been shared a couple times in a couple different versions. I think Halsey even shared a demo of it at one point. This track has a different vibe than the other Manic songs. It feels much more Hopeless Fountain Kingdom to me than Manic honestly. She does a lot of single note melody singing that has a very talky-breathy feeling. The track itself is also very producer beat type feel. It's an interesting track that has a cool looping melody, but it doesn't quite have the organic quirk of Manic. It was written by Jasper Sheff, John Cunningham, and Halsey.
It's a super short track and has an unconventional format. It starts with the chorus that is considerably long then there's a verse and a second chorus, so there's not a ton to unpack here. The storyline centers around how Halsey wants to be the main person in this girl's life. She wants to be the one to tell this girl it'll be all right. There's a possessive undercurrent to it as Halsey doesn't want to let her go or move on to other people. This girl seems to be putting up a front and rejecting help, but it's easy to see through her act. It's both soft like a lullaby and has a hard, knife edge to it.
In the chorus, Halsey starts with the comforting words, "You know I tell her all the time/Nothing's gonna hurt you, baby/Nothing's gonna make you cry/I'll be damned if I let another hand/Wipe your tears before they dry." I like the imagery throughout this especially the idea of someone wiping your tears before they dry. It's a symbol of someone being there to pick you up instead of leaving you to dry your own tears. It takes its own kind of strength to let someone else get close enough to do that.
In the verse, the character building takes shape. She deconstructs this other girl's armor that's stopping her from accepting the help. "Keep your friends close, but this pretty girl closer/Kiss her on the neck, little baby is a power/Thinks she's so cold, but the world is colder". I like that last line even though it's really simple because I think everyone's had moments where they feel untouchably numb to the world, but life is always going to one up you on icing everything out. Then the voice turns away from a portrait of the girl and turns the mirror on Halsey herself. You can sense some of the insecurity that she's probably projecting on this girl because she can help her more easily than Halsey can help herself. "Take her in my lap and promise that I'll hold her/My bed is too big for only me/I keep a pistol when I sleep/Inside my mouth so I can shoot/Down all the bad things". These last lines seem to allude to some of the paranoia in songs like "Still Learning" with the pistol imagery. It's a fascinating way to assert that she has a sharp tongue and is already on guard.
It's a simple song with a song and a style that differs even from the eclectic Manic. I can see why Halsey decided to go with different songs for the album. I feel like those tracks tell a stronger story together, but this song offers an interesting clue into a different part of her world. I think it works well as a deluxe truck.
Now for "I'm Not Mad", which I've thought about once a month since I listened to it off SoundCloud. Again, I don't think it fits the album. It has a level of hard aggression that doesn't feel right on Manic, but she has some of the most hilariously mean lyrics she's ever penned. As much as I love love songs, I will always be there for a song that expertly takes apart someone who wronged you. That's exactly what happens on "I'm Not Mad". Track wise, It has a short, low guitar strum to start before the beat kicks in. Again, it has a more rap type vibe with that talk singing before a really breathy chorus hits. It makes the words shine front and center. Halsey noted that this was one of her favorite songs when she was writing for the album. It was written simply by John Cunningham and Halsey.
She opens the track with her general thesis statement that the listener has to decide if they really buy after all. "I'm not even mad anymore/No really, I ain't even mad anymore/Yeah, I don't even want you back anymore/I don't remember what we had anymore, yeah" It's a bit of a preamble to the actual meat of the chorus, and it's hard to tell if she's actually being serious or if she's bluffing. If she is truly done, she's not quite through with thinking about it. She's moved from grief to anger, and I love it. "I hope your back aches and your knees hurt/I hope you think about me sleeping in your t-shirt/I hope your little brother turns out to be nothing like you/I hope that you hurt more than I do". These lines offer a bit more insight. I love her creative take-down of this guy. Halsey is the best at coming up with little jabs or specifically painfully annoying things to haunt her ex. That last line, though, gives a bit more of a real look into what's happening, and I love that it's just slipped in there.
The chorus has the best lilting melody that hits every syllable in the perfect place for emphasis. "And honestly, I still wish you nothing but the best/I know that you're still self-obsessed/I hear the wicked get no rest/But when you do, I hope you think of me". This is my favorite part of the song because it's the epitome of what she does so well as a songwriter. In the first two lines, she pulls that fake out that starts sweet and disarming and flips into a jab. The self obsessed line connects perfectly to "You Should Be Sad", and I have a theory the two songs are sisters. Then, in the second half, she twists around a cliche phrase to make it work for her on so many levels. It's a bit cute and cheeky, but also a sly way to call him wicked, and then she flips the trope around on itself to pull out the next line. It's just so cool and effective.
In the post chorus, she repeats how she hopes he'll dream of her. It's almost like a more upbeat, quicker version of "Haunting" except this time she wants to be the one doing the haunting. While not being mad is the point she's trying to convince us on, the trope of dreaming of her comes up in each section of the song so far. It's an interesting recurring theme.
In the next verse, we're back to the original verse format of all her hopes and dreams for him. "I don't even hope you die these days/I hope you live til' 85 these days/Regretting that you ever lied these days/I hope it's eating you alive these days". The song bursts with anger, clearly, but these lines make it feel like a more mature anger. She's realizing that it'll be a lot more painful to thunk about all the ways he screwed up than to die on the spot. She can play the long game. "I hope you're up late in a bathroom/Just wishing I'ma change my mind and come back soon/I hope that when you're 35 years/You'll wish you tried to/Cause I know that I do". The end of these verses are the only places where there are cracks in her front. She's talking about how he'll wish he could've made her right and convinced her to come back, and she acknowledges that she's currently in that place. Still wondering what could've happened.
In the bridge she does a bit more convincing herself. This whole song sounds like she's saying things to hype herself into realizing the truth in her words down in her heart where logic doesn't work. "I ain't mad about it anymore/No really, I ain't even mad about it anymore/Maybe just a little less than a was before". She's still doing a lot of hedging here. Then, the last line feels like a realization of all the pieces she's told herself coming together. "I've got a twenty dollar bill that says/You're never, ever, ever gonna change".
I really enjoy this song. It has all the aggression and attack of "strange love" with the subtle jabs of "You Should Be Sad". I think this one probably didn't make the album because "You Should Be Sad" feels like it's part of the same song and came from the same place, but "I'm Not Mad" is very external and puts on a mask while "You Should Be Sad" is more internal and has a bit more emotional range and vulnerability. I love that we have them both, though.
Commenting on why these tracks weren't a part of the original album, Halsey wrote on Twitter, "It was really hard to decide which songs were going to be exclusive to different versions of the album. But I ultimately ended up putting ‘wipe your tears’ and ‘I’m Not Mad’ as bonus tracks because even though I really wanted to keep them, they felt the least essential to the plot that I was trying to get across, because they were so much about other people. And even though there are songs on Manic about my experiences with others, I really wanted the journey to feel cohesive, as being about me, and myself, and my discovery." I completely agree with her. Manic is such a brilliantly composed story. It follows a perfectly charted arch and feels complete as it is. There isn't a track that shouldn't be there, and while I always want more Halsey, Manic doesn't leave you feeling like something is missing. It is also more internal and personal than her previous two albums. I feel like these bonus tracks feel more like a holdover from the Hopeless Fountain Kingdom era both sonically and in the level they deal in Halsey as a person. They shield their vulnerability a bit more than most Manic tracks.
Like I said before, I'm so excited that we have all these (kinda) new tracks on Spotify ready to play. Again, if you're looking for the songs and having a hard time finding them, they're under the Manic album. If you scroll to the bottom, there's a CD icon that has a 2 next to it. She's given us a whole new side to the disk. Let me know in the comments what you thought of the new stripped and acoustics version (for "Graveyard", "You should be sad", "Alanis Interlude", "Without Me", "Graveyard" (stripped), and "3am") along with the bonus songs "wipe your tears" and "I'm Not Mad". Also, I'm writing this wearing my crewneck from the 5th anniversary Badlands merch, and I am in love with it. I've been having so much fun seeing everyone in their new hoodies and shirts. It's really high quality, and the designs are so cool and not obviously merch (which I love). If you want to see what some of the Badlands merch looks like, check out my Instagram @mslaurenbrice and chat with me about the new songs on Twitter at the same handle. Also, don't forget to subscribe on YouTube for more music content, reactions, and other content.
Most of all, Happy Birthday Halsey!