Arts, Music

Halsey’s Dystopia Doesn’t Quite Deliver in “New Americana”

Halsey’s newest video sets her rebel anthem “New Americana” in the visually enticing, yet unoriginal, dystopian wild. The piece opens upon a grainy, post-apocalyptic landscape. Halsey’s disembodied voice murmurs in an aim at gritty honesty that instead drips with enough melodrama to last through the remaining four minutes.

Things gain momentum, however, as the cinematography and music amp up. Halsey, cigarette in hand, strides into some general resistance compound. The visuals are nothing revolutionary, but try to reflect the edginess of the unglamorous, which the entire song seems intent on capturing.

Things quickly enter back into the realm of the overdone. Militant forces enter the compound and drag the young outsiders off to be scrutinized. Halsey—one of the outsiders—stares up, face blank and yet clearly defiant in one of her more articulate moments of expression in the video.

The chorus croons about Nirvana and legal marijuana as the singer is dragged to face her death. What could have been artfully constructed with a controlled hand yet again turns contrived as the heroine yells for action from the unbothered onlookers. This crucial depiction drags more than it emotes, but finds another bright moment as the music surges to block out all other sound as Halsey, drenched in gasoline, screams noiselessly into the night.

By the time Hasley’s character escapes aided by the return of her allies, the video has run out of gas. The song itself is one to get behind, with a rousing chorus for millennials that teases out deeper resonance, but the video is ill-matched visually and does little in terms of emotional punch. The intent is there, but somewhere the connection is lost, and the artist steamrolls on without taking the time to get it back.

October 7, 2015

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