Inspired by the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom is Halsey’s latest concept album which tells the story of a made up universe based around two star crossed lovers who go through hell for love. Halsey’s previous debut album Badlands was a reckless and dangerous place which mirrored her mind and where she faced monsters within herself. With HFK, Halsey now faces monsters on the outside, the kingdom being an awful, loveless place her album’s character Luna and her lover Solis try to desperately escape. But in this twisted, tragic chain of events, Halsey plays our sweet Romeo.
The album starts with “The Prologue”, Halsey first reading the prologue of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet before blending into an auto-tuned lullaby of lyrics chanting “hands so bloody, tastes like honey.” It follows up with “100 Letters” which lyrically ties to “Haunting” then “Eyes Closed”, a breakup song that sort of sounds like every other song unfortunately. The stripped down version however, is absolutely beautiful.
In “Heaven in Hiding” the melody seems to keep rising to create a feeling of suspense, the violent lyrics helping us visualize Halsey’s character, Luna and her lover, Solis’ first encounter. “Alone” is a very new sound for Halsey. Still the same sad lyrics but more upbeat where she (kind of?) raps the pre-chorus which honestly reminds me of a Justin Timberlake song. Halsey explained in a video that the two songs are actually tied and is based on the masquerade ball in Romeo and Juliet but is from two different perspectives whereas if “Heaven in Hiding” is from Luna’s (Romeo) perpective, “Alone” is Solis'(Juliet’s) side.
“Now or Never” was the first song released after a series of never ending teases. From cryptic tweets to strange pictures, Halsey led her fans to different coordinates in order to uncover the album’s artwork and later on the track list, releasing the song along with an amazing music video that set the scene for the album. Some fans and critics stated that the song sounded way to similar to Rihanna’s “Needed Me” and attacked the singer’s originality via twitter when in reality, it was probably intentional seeing how the singer was one of Halsey’s “biggest inspiration in her whole life” and that singer, rapper and songwriter Starrah (Brittany Talia Hazzard) had her hands on both songs featuring as a co-writer.
“Sorry” is probably one of Halsey’s most purest songs in general and one of her most raw and vulnerable songs on the album. With nothing but slow piano keys in the background, the singer honestly confesses her personal issues with finding love and her failure at keeping it. “Good Mourning” is another lullaby-ish minute long piece which starts off with a child talking about hopelessness and a city flowing with milk and honey before slowly distorting into Halsey’s voice. Since Luna and Solis can only see each other at night to avoid suspicion, they dread the sun coming up because it forces them to separate and act like they’re enemies. With stripped instrumentals from “Castle” playing in the background, it’s also a reference to her song “Coming Down” from Badlands which she confirmed in a tweet:
Coming Down: "every single night pray the sun (son) will rise."
Good Mourning: "sun is coming up oh why….."
— h (@halsey) June 5, 2017
It bleeds perfectly into “Lie” ft. Quavo which, although has great in your face lyrics, isn’t as great as I had hoped a song with Quavo would be.”Walls Could Talk” is another great hit which has an early 2000’s Brittany Spears/Christina Aguilera/kind of Destiny’s Child-ish pop sound. “Bad at Love” and “Don’t Play” have a hint of R&B as she reveals the mess of lovers she makes from her “Boy back home in Michigan” to her “Girl with California eyes” and “London girl with an attitude.” Halsey also tweeted that “Don’t Play” was an Aureum (Montague) House theme song and could heed as a warning towards the Angelus (Capulet) House thus reaching the climax in the story.
“Strangers” is the 13th track on Hopeless Fountain Kingdom featuring Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui. It’s still a mystery as to who and which house Lauren’s character belongs to but it’s clear that Halsey’s character Luna (Romeo) and Lauren’s character have an intimate past. Could she be Romeo’s old lover Rosaline? Or is she a possible Capulet? In “Angel on Fire” and “Devil in Me” she makes references to the story of Icarus, claiming that she flew to close to the sun and is now suffering the consequences. The album ends with “Hopeless” ft. Cashmere Cat, a sad ending to the album and it’s story but mostly paralleling her relationship with her ex. The lyrics “Cause you know the good die young, but so did this.” summarizing the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet but also her relationship.
Hopeless Fountain Kingdom is a visual masterpiece and Halsey has done an incredibly impressive job at creating yet again another universe for her stories to be told. Only a few years in the game, she’s one of the most lyrically sophisticated and one of the most creative artists in the industry. Unfortunately, the songs on this album weren’t as gripping as Badlands besides a select few. Maybe I haven’t listened to the album enough, maybe some more music videos will change my mind.
Listen to Hopeless Fountain Kingdom