now or never – halsey [track review]

“Got a whole lot of love, but you don’t wanna spread it ’round with me.”

Now Or Never is the first single for American singer/songwriter Halsey’s upcoming sophomore album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, which is to be released June 2nd this year. If you’ve never heard of Halsey, you’ve definitely heard “that overplayed Chainsmokers song with Justin Bieber and some chic”. That “some chic” being Halsey. Asides from that song, Closer, Halsey hasn’t gained much radio airplay. Well, at least not in Australia. Despite that, she’s amassed a huge following on various social media platforms, which is why it’s almost impossible to explore the internet without finding quotes of her lyrics or pictures of her ever-changing hair colour and style.

I’ve known about Halsey since the release of her debut album, Badlands, in 2015. Surprisingly, I didn’t actually start digging her music until earlier this year. I used to be quite subjective when it came to my music, but after listening to alternative/pop female artists like Melanie Martinez and Halsey, I’ve become more open and broad as to the genres I listen to.

That being said, I enjoyed Badlands. It’s a solid effort for a debut album. Halsey isn’t someone I listen to frequently, but when I heard her announcement of a World Tour, of course I was mildly interested.

Okay, I was very interested.

Now Or Never takes on a similar feel musically as to what was heard on Badlands – an ambient, electro pop sound. It’s a bit more softer and toned-down, and doesn’t have as many of those random, odd sounds that clash together exceptionally well (as heard in “Castle” and “Drive”) – a trademark Halsey sound.

Many alternative artists curate unique lyrics in their songs – Halsey being one of them. As said before, Halsey writes her own lyrics and has a very distinct lyrical style. In Now Or Never, the lyrics are very simple – almost too simple. If I was just to read the lyrics without ever hearing the music, I wouldn’t think this was one of Halsey’s songs. Because of that, I feel like the track is more of an “easy listening tune” that garners more attention on the radio, rather than a song with multiple meanings and explanations that fans argue over on Reddit. It’s not so much a bad thing; it’s just catering to a slightly different audience.

I was a bit disappointed with Halsey’s voice in this track. I’ve heard what her voice can really do, and I feel like she was just limiting herself in this song – taking the easy way out. Her voice took on a more husky and smoky sound, which isn’t bad, but it made it hard to understand some of the lyrics. She also took on a more robotic voice at times in the song, so I couldn’t hear any energy in her voice or much of a flow in the lyrics. The high notes in the verses should have been sung more stronger and the super low notes in the chorus sound slightly unnatural. It also sounded like there was auto-tune used in the chorus, which is definitely not cool. Auto-tune is a huge no-go for me.

Despite this, the chorus is sort of catchy. It takes a while to get into, I must admit. I listened to the track a couple days after its release and it didn’t get stuck in my head until yesterday. Fortunately, it isn’t stuck in my head anymore.

Will I be listening to more? Most likely, yes. I hope the rest of the album features more lyrical diversity and brings out Halsey’s singing talent.

Let’s summarise!

Positives: Easy listening track, catchy chorus and verses, interesting time signature?
Negatives: Hard to understand lyrics, too simple lyrics, robotic voice, auto-tune?
Initial thoughts: THE BLUE HAIR IS BACK YES
Final thoughts: Is Australia important enough to be included in Halsey’s World Tour? I think it is.
Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: If you’re the kind of person who likes to listen to music before ‘it was mainstream’, this is the song to get into.

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