I vividly remember the first time I saw Halsey perform. It was Friday, May 15, and I was in Gulf Shores, Ala. covering the 2015 Hangout Music Festival for MTV News. I'd heard her name mentioned before -- she's one of MTV's Artists To Watch, so my co-workers have interviewed her -- but I personally couldn't name any of her songs.
Then I walked past Hangout Fest's BMI stage, where Halsey was halfway through her set. Her powerful voice carried over to the main boardwalk and, curious, I wandered over. I remember wondering, who is this mystery 20-year-old musician with bright blue mermaid hair? I wanted to know more about her. A small crowd of maybe 50 people were gathered around the stage, singing every lyric. I felt awkward because I didn't know any of the words.
Seven months later, I know all the words. After that weekend, I started listening to Halsey and fell in love with her music. Everything about her songs -- her haunting vocals, her dark yet beautifully honest lyrics -- resonated with me. Her debut album, Badlands, and EP, Room 93, play on loop in my apartment. "The Feeling," her recent collab with Justin Bieber, is hands-down my favorite song off his Purpose album. (My older neighbors, meanwhile, are probably sick of Halsey given the building's I-can-hear-your-alarm-clock-going-off thin walls. Sorry not sorry, guys.)
Like any eager fan who counts the days until their favorite singer announces new music, I scoured the internet for unreleased Halsey tunes to hold me over until her second album -- which she's already working on!!! -- drops. I found the music I was looking for, and it came with stories and comments about Halsey's rise to fame.
Before she was Halsey, she was Ashley Frangipane, a wildly talented teen singing her heart out on the internet. Frangipane posted her music, both original songs and covers, to social media like YouTube, Kik and, most notably, Tumblr.
Halsey became Tumblr-famous under the username se7enteenblack, now a password-protected blog, around 2012. She was a die-hard One Direction fan at the time and rewrote Taylor Swift's "Trouble" to be about the 1989 singer's tumultuous relationship with Harry Styles. Frangipane's version was called "The Haylor Song," and Directioners across the globe shared the parody -- "We knew she was trouble when she got Styles / So shame on us now / This fandom's getting kind of hostile" -- until it went viral within the 1D community and beyond.
Frangipane also penned an original acoustic song "S.O.S." about Styles -- "She's tall and she's pretty and blond / And she can write one hell of a breakup song / But she'll never love you like I could" -- and covered multiple T. Swift hits in her teens. These songs have surfaced online, with people re-uploading them after Halsey deleted 'em from her original handles. (I won't link to them out of respect for her decision to remove them.)
"I made that video in 2012," Halsey told NME about "The Haylor Song" in an October interview. "There was not another word about me in the press until 2014, but it keeps getting brought up ... Everyone loves talking about Taylor Swift. I made multiple parody videos at that age; I’m quick-witted, clever and kind of an asshole, and it was how I handled that when I was 16."
TL; DR -- Teenage Halsey was crushing on Harry Styles, didn't like him dating Tay and wrote songs about their relationship years before "New Americana" hit the radio. Halsey was a fangirl for 1D, and I'm a fangirl for Halsey. And if you think there's something wrong with or immature about being a fangirl, you need to check yourself.
"A boy being obsessed with a football team is deemed OK, [but] a girl with a boy band is written off as irrational, stupid and told she is going through a 'phase,'" producer Rita Walsh, whose upcoming documentary "I Used to Be Normal" spotlights fandoms including One Direction's, told Paper in November.
I love that Halsey was (is?) a fangirl; because she was once a dedicated fan herself, she understands her quickly growing fan base and is always there for them. In the past two months alone, she's helped a fan who was scammed by a ticket scalper, shared fan art, complimented a fan's #onfleek brows, motivated a fan to get to her kickboxing class, watched a fan's weird condom-on-head video, gone to a haunted house with fans and -- most importantly, perhaps -- had simple fun conversations with them.
The Badlands singer is an insanely talented musician, and as her success skyrockets, she makes sure her fans feel heard and appreciated. So thank you, Halsey, from one fan to another. Now I gotta go stalk StubHub until I find tickets for your sold-out Madison Square Garden show. ✌️