Nirvana, Lady Gaga And Other Artists Who Have Influenced Halsey’s Music
True to her song “New Americana”, Halsey was in fact raised on Biggie and Nirvana.
The 23-year-old New Jersey native has such an eclectic taste in music, it’s hard to pin down the vibe of her songs. In a mix of synth pop, alternative R&B, old-school hip hop, and so many other genres, her work seems to be in a category of its own. Halsey, real name Ashley Frangipane, previously told MTV News this comes from her wide variety of musical influences.
“It’s because I come from a mixed race family—my dad’s black and my mom’s white—so growing up my dad was listening to a ton of old school rap and my mom was listening to a ton of ’90s grunge,” said Halsey.
Here’s a look at some of the artists who have influences her music over the years.
Despite releasing only three albums in their seven-year career, Nirvana has come to be regarded as one of the most important alternative bands in history having influenced a variety of musicians, including Halsey. Halsey thanks her mom for the connection, having heard Kurt Cobain’s crooning voice for much of her childhood, in addition to the English rockers of The Cure.
While Nirvana worked to mix together heavy punk and pop musical sounds, resonating as entirely grunge yet rhythmic in their guitar grooves, this genre bending is exactly what Halsey does. She mixes all her favourite sounds into a single song, showing little care for those who think the result won’t be great.
The Notorious B.I.G.
While Halsey’s mom was bumping Nirvana, her dad was listening to Biggie on repeat. Considered by many as one of the best rappers of all time, Biggie is known for his dark, semi-autobiographical lyrics and storytelling abilities, which Halsey’s lyrics parallel with both artists facing a variety of hardships growing up. Biggie’s sound also had a loose, easy flow to it and that same aesthetic is apparent on Halsey’s debut album Badlands.
Even Halsey knows Alanis Morisette is a Canadian classic when it comes to post-grunge, alternative rock music. Her seminal 1995 record Jagged Little Pill has long been praised for being a perfect artistic representation of post-breakup feminist rage, exploring the intimacy of heartbreak—something that’s been a common theme in Halsey’s music since her humble Internet beginnings.
Women aren’t often given permission to be loud, angry, and bitter, but Alanis went ahead and did it anyways and as a young pop artist today, Halsey isn’t afraid to do the same. The two artists are the kind of women who wear their hearts on their sleeves and aren’t afraid to speak their minds—and fans love them for it.
Tupac was another go-to of Halsey’s dad, playing off that bouncy hip hop vibe that’s trickled into some of her songs. Like with all her musical inspirations, Halsey previously said she takes the music she likes and turns those songs into a reflection of herself. Halsey also notes that her dad played a lot of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Slick Rick in addition to Tupac and Biggie that also influenced her music.
Both Tupac and Halsey sing about their tough upbringings and how it gave them each the determination and heart to make it in this industry.
Panic! At The Disco
Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie joined Halsey during her 2016 set at Coachella. Halsey introduced the band onstage as the “band that changed my fucking life” with the duo singing her hit single “New Americana” before launching into Panic’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
While Halsey adores Panic! At The Disco, Urie assures that the feeling is mutual. “I was just blown away by her presence,” he said. “She has this really strong walk and she knows exactly where she wants to be. Every word has a strong meaning behind it. To me that’s really powerful.” When comparing the two, Halsey’s edgy-pop vibe and fierce determination parallels that of Panic’s as both artists seem to shift their sound with each record.
Halsey credits Lady Gaga for giving her the strength to be unapologetically herself as an artist. It all started when Halsey tweeted her excitement for Lady Gaga’s Joanne album, citing the fellow pop artist as one of her “greatest idols.” Gaga responded by thanking Halsey for her kind words, which sent Halsey into pure fan girl mode and had her freaking out.
Lady Gaga is an icon and forever one of my greatest idols. I can’t wait to see where her new era takes us. #JOANNE
— h (@halsey) October 18, 2016
While Halsey’s stage and music video antics aren’t as wild as Gaga’s, we can see where she draws her inspiration from.
Catch Halsey at the 2018 iHeartRadio MMVAs alongside other performers Megan Trainor, Shawn Mendes, Kris Wu, 5 Seconds Of Summer, Alessia Cara, and Marshmello featuring Anne-Marie.
The 2018 iHeartRadio MMVAs go down Sunday, August 26 at 9ET/7MT on CTV and Much.