Pop Genealogy: Halsey

 

You don’t have to go further than Halsey’s first record to find her influences; she tells you point-blank in the chorus of “New Americana” she was “raised on Biggie and Nirvana.” A rather eclectic taste comes from her childhood being raised mixed race. “my dad’s black and my mom’s white,” Halsey told Nadeska Alexis from MTV in 2005. “So growing up my dad was listening to a ton of old school rap, and my mom was listening to a ton of ’90s grunge.”

Alanis Morissette

As far as lyrical content is concerned, Halsey takes considerable influences from Alanis Morisette’s grungy ’90s style. They both share lyrics that are usually full of angst and mature content.

Tupac

So while her mother was introducing her to grungy ’90s singer-songwriters, her father was showing her hip-hop. “Tupac, Biggie, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Slick Rick — just old school bouncy hip-hop,” (Alexis). This could account for some of the musical influences across both records. Drums samples, synth pads, and leads carry the tunes as opposed to tangible instruments.
In true hop-hop fashion, “Alone” from Halsey’s 2017 record sampled Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.’ “Nothing Can Stop Me” and turns it into a Tupac-esque alt-pop/hip-hop jam about the loneliness in spite of fame.

 

Works Cited for this post can be found here.

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