Halsey’s rise to stardom is one of fairytales. She was just another 17-year-old posting music on Tumblr when virality found her. And trust us when we say, no one knows stan culture quite like Halsey.
Her first taste of internet fame came when ‘The Haylor Song’, a parody of Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ caught attention. We already know what you’re thinking… And yes, you’re right. It’s “Haylor”, as in the ship name for Taylor Swift and Harry Styles’ relationship. We told you she knows stan culture! The song was written from Halsey’s perspective as a protective fan of Styles, touching on a unique sense of heartbreak. It is this kind of vulnerability that has led her to where she is today.
Three albums later and this shameless vulnerability is why we love her so much. The power of Halsey also comes from her chameleon-like ability in shifting genres. From her alternative-pop debut album Badlands to collaborating with K-Pop megastars SUGA and BTS on her latest album Manic, she is simply unstoppable.
But let’s try to catch up to her… Hop on and let’s take a ride through her Top 5 Best Live Performances!
1. ‘New Americana’ – VEVO Lift Live (2015)
As the second single from her 2015 debut album Badlands, ‘New Americana’ was an instant hit. And this performance is the ultimate artefact of its impact. As I was researching for this list, my flat mate overheard this performance playing from my room and began belting out (very loudly and very offkey) across the house, “We are the new Americanaaaaa… High on legal marijuanaaaaa!” The energy of the crowd (lest we forget, Miss Halsey herself) radiated off my MacBook and heated my cold, cold flat. My flat mate’s tone-deafness is proof of this. And that’s when you know, it’s a damn good performance.
Watch with caution because we definitely don’t need anymore (bad) singing to ‘New Americana’.
2. ‘Colors’ – Billboard Women in Music (2016)
A popular fan favourite, ‘Colors’ sealed Halsey’s status as a pop star. There’s no way you can listen to the song without kneeling to the floor in chanting the bridge… If you know, you know. It is pure electro-pop magic. This stripped-down performance of ‘Colors’ is, however, witchcraft. With the backing piano alongside Halsey’s sultry vocals, it transforms our favourite popstar into a 1950s bar singer. Think La La Land but a better film where it would’ve actually won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2017. All it needed was ‘Colors’ on the soundtrack. This performance is a brilliant showcase of the hypnotizing strength of Halsey’s voice.
3. Without Me – Halsey Live at the 2018 Victoria Secret Fashion Show
You know it’s gonna be a good performance when Halsey shows up with winged eyebrows… What more could you possibly want? Upon the release of ‘Without Me’, Manic’s leading single, Halsey noticed that she was receiving sexist backlash from sharing her perspective of a break-up in the song. She was accused of cheating, all because she wore a bikini in the music video… It’s 2020 for god’s sake! Eye rolls aside, in speaking to the Guardian about ‘Without Me’, she said “It’s so much greater than me – it’s a social perception of women.” This made the setting of the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show all the more perfect for this song. ‘Without Me’ provided the best soundtrack for these women to own their confidence with. So thank you, Halsey!
P.S our favourite Victoria’s Secret Angel is Halsey’s left eyebrow… It’s just too good.
4. You should be sad (Live on SNL) 2020
Buckle up for this one because it is absolutely iconic! Halsey takes us all to the Wild West by beginning the performance on a rocking saddle. Yet, there’s nothing rocky about her vocals. They’re as smooth as butter. And may we just mention, there’s a sparkly cowboy hat involved… This performance of ‘You should be sad’ is pure empowerment. You might be enticed by the rodeo theme but trust us, the energy and confidence from Halsey during this is absolutely infectious. The happiness which she gets from performing ‘You should be sad’ is undeniable, making the song’s name just a little bit ironic… And that calls for one big yeehaw!
Side note: Halsey also performed ‘Finally // beautiful stranger’ from Manic the same night on Saturday Night Live… That performance is however a different type of rodeo, prepare for your emotions to be rocked like Halsey’s saddle i.e. very forcefully.
5. Closer – Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2018
You know we had to end it with a big bang! And how could we ever forget ‘Closer’? AKA the best collaboration ever… We definitely owe The Chainsmokers and Halsey BIG for this catchy pop-EDM tune. Its release in 2016 led to Billboard called it an “instant classic”. This comes to no surprise as it was the year’s longest-running Number 1 single on the charts. And during this performance, ‘Closer’ gets turned upside down on its head with Halsey performing it as a ballad. What makes this performance even more magical is the energy of the crowd. You can feel the crowd and Halsey’s connection with the echoing of the lyrics bring sung back to her. It’s absolutely electric.
As Kylie Jenner once said, 2016 was “like, the year of just realizing stuff.” But perhaps 2020 proves more monumental in like… realizing stuff. And one of the things that we’ve realized is how much we took for granted the beauty of a live performance.
What we would give to be able to sway our phone torches back and forth in an arena. But thankfully, we have these five performances to live through for the meanwhile.