Halsey's new album, Manic, is a self-liberation from the definitions ascribed to the artist by others.
At the Friday event celebrating the album's release — #ManicTheExperience, a mini-carnival set up in the parking lot of Capitol Records in Hollywood followed by a performance — the 25-year-old opened up about she has often played a supporting role in her own life, both professionally and personally.
"I was the girl who would come along and be exciting and fun and a little weird and kind of fucked up and then that would bring some kind of lifechanging experiencing to [a partner]," she told the crowd of fans and industry professionals, as an empty Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, both painted white, circled in the background. "And then when they didn't need me anymore, they would say, thank you so much for the life lessons, and then they'd leave."
"And that is the trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. That's who she is. She only exists in movies, and in books, and in music to come along and change the life of some bored unsuspecting guy, and all that matters is what she does for him and to him," Halsey continued.
"But this album isn't about that. It's about her. It's about her story and her desires and it's about the fact that her experiences and her trauma [do] not exist to benefit some other fucking person. And I think I figured that out along the way."
With Capitol Records lit up in rainbow colors behind her, the bisexual singer orchestrated the event visually and lyrically as a reclamation of her identity. As always, Halsey writes about her bisexuality in her music, such as in the track "Clementine," which she performed Friday. "In my world, I'm seven feet tall and the boys always call, and the girls do too," she sang to the cheers of the crowd.
However, Manic also digs deep into the existential. It is subtitled, "An album made by Ashley for Halsey," a separation from the artist's real name, Ashley Frangipane, and the persona she adopted for the music industry.
This split was seen throughout #ManicTheExperience. One of the attractions was "Ashley's Brain," two studios carved out like the right and left half of a brain that pulsed with different shades of light and music. A sculpture, "Ashley vs. Halsey," featured the two names, blown up to human-sized proportions, placed back to back.
Moreover, the first track in Manic, appropriately titled "Ashley," also features the artist's declaration of independence through the borrowed words of Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. "Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive," Winslet says in the track. "I'm just a fucked up girl who's lookin' for my own peace of mind. Don't assign me yours."
Manic is now available on streaming services and wherever good music is sold. Watch the lyric video for "Ashley" below.