Halsey just surprised fans with two new songs off of her upcoming album, “Manic.” Though “Manic” doesn’t release until January 2020, Halsey has already revealed the 15-song track list. With the release of “Suga’s Interlude” and “Finally // Beautiful Stranger,” fans now know five of the songs.
“Suga’s Interlude” is a simple and short song, coming in at less than three minutes long. It features Min Yoongi, who goes by Suga, a friend of Halsey’s and a member of BTS. He carries the verses in Korean, rapping fast, a stark contrast to the rest of the song. Halsey sings a slow chorus, her vocals dreamy. The production of the song is light, airy.
In an Instagram story, Halsey said, “So unbelievably proud and happy with Suga’s Interlude. This song was very carefully crafted by us. Every production choice by all of us was intentional to provoke a feeling. I wanted Yoongi because I am a huge fan of his solo music and I knew he would be the perfect person to paint a picture that was beautifully tragic. And I am honored to have, on my album, such a song that transcends language and shows that the human experience is fundamentally the same universally. Especially amongst creatives. To be both blessed and tormented. LEGEND!”
“Finally // Beautiful Stranger” is reminiscent of some of Halsey’s earliest work, before even her “Badlands” album. The love song is a blend of the hurt that Halsey has felt in the past and her hope for the future. This song is one carried by lyrics, met with simple vocals and production. Unlike many of her singles, this song does not have belting notes or anything vocals that sound particularly challenging. However, this rare simplicity makes the song stand out.
The lyrics of “Finally // Beautiful Stranger” carry the song. Halsey has always been a fantastic lyricist, but this song really brings that point home. It’s easily the strongest song, lyrically, that fans have heard from “Manic.” She starts the song with a description of the beautiful stranger, painting a picture for the listeners. In the first verse, she sings, “Your eyes, so crystal green / sour apple baby, but you taste so sweet / You got hips like Jagger and two left feet / and I wonder if you’d like to meet / Your voice is velvet through a telephone.” From the very beginning, listeners can understand why Halsey is attracted to the stranger; listeners can easily put themselves in her headspace.
The pre-chorus of this track features my favorite lyrics in the whole song. “And I say I’m only playing, but the truth is this / that I’ve never seen a mouth that I would kill to kiss / and I’m terrified, but I can’t resist.” Here, she lets fans see her vulnerabilities. She lets fans understand that this feeling is unlike one she’s ever felt, but that she has to go for it anyway. Something just feels so right about them together.
“Beautiful stranger, here you are in my arms and I know / that beautiful strangers only come along to do me wrong.” These lyrics start the chorus. Again, Halsey acknowledges her fears and her past hurt. Loyal listeners know of Halsey’s relationship troubles as she has been vocal about them in past songs, but there is no background needed for this. She makes it clear for all listeners. But, it’s not all sad for our girl. She closes out the chorus with, “And I hope, beautiful stranger, here you are in my arms / but I think it’s finally, finally, finally, finally, finally safe / for me to fall.”
In the second verse of “Finally // Beautiful Stranger,” Halsey lays out the cute details of the relationship. She sings about the pair “singing in the street and playing air guitar.” She also takes this verse to acknowledge the impact of this relationship, how strong and sturdy it is. The relationship is secure. “You stopped me in my tracks and put me right in my place / used to think that loving meant a painful chase / but you’re right here now and I think you’ll stay.”
Another interesting component of the song is the lack of a bridge. Halsey goes from the second verse to the pre-chorus to the chorus to the post-chorus, concluding the song. I don’t think a bridge is necessary for this song, though. The verses and chorus components carry the emotions so well.
Matching many elements of the song, the music video for the song is very simple. It starts with Halsey in a tank top and baggy pants, practicing “Finally // Beautiful Stranger” on a stage in a restaurant before opening time. The waitstaff ignores her as she sings, instead focused on setting up. Here, she sings with emotion, moving across the stage, closing her eyes, throwing herself into the song.
As the song continues, the scene cuts to her actual performance. Here, she is all done up, with sparkles on her guitar and sparkles on her eyelids. She is classy, elegant and beautiful. The spotlight is on her; she is capturing the attention of the well-dressed guests. A fake smile is plastered on her face. The video continues to cut back and forth from these two contrasts.
Track 10, “Finally // Beautiful Stranger” is on the track list right after “Without Me.” A bold choice from Halsey, to put a beautiful love song right after an angry breakup song. “Without Me” is clearly a pop song, with a fast pace and heavy production, high vocals and belted notes. I think this choice will really allow “Finally // Beautiful Stranger” to stand out, a clear shift in tone from her anger and anguish to her excitement for what comes next.
This is especially interesting considering that there seems to be a clear overall sound for the “Manic” album. Each song that has been produced has been softer than most of Halsey’s music. There are still screams and growls, but these elements have been moved to the background of most tracks on the album. Single “Nightmare” isn’t even on the album — perhaps it was too aggressive for this softer-sounding album.
I’m very excited to hear the rest of the “Manic” album when it drops. I’m most curious to see if the album stays as soft as it is now, or if the rest of it will kick back up to the heavy bass I’ve come to expect from Halsey.