This week New Jersey native and break out artist Halsey released the first single and music video, “Now Or Never”, from her upcoming album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. The track has a different sound from what we’ve heard from Halsey previously. It’s reflective of the cyphering, rap, and hip-hop that the singer/song-writer is a fan of, as the slightly stilted lyrics coming out in fits and starts. Even though she’s trying something a little different, “Now Or Never” still has that specific Halsey touch that bleeds its way into all of her songs.
In the same way that Badlands had a Colors and a Control, HFK has many sides as well. #NowOrNever is one delicate side of a bigger story. 💛
— h (@halsey) April 5, 2017
“Now Or Never” is a song about ultimatums. Listeners will find a confident voice in this song, with less wondering and more action and knowing what you want. Halsey is coming from an incredibly truthful place, a place so many people have been in before. Picture this: you’ve been on and off with a a wishy-washy paramour for a while now and you’re sick of being jerked around. Finally, you tell them, “either you want me for real or I’m not giving you my energy anymore.”
It’s certainly a situation we hear about in ballads and break-up songs, but “Now Or Never” is sure of itself from the beat to the lyrics. Not only is it hard to stand in your convictions, but it’s so difficult to ask for what you deserve and be unflinchingly honest. Halsey openly comes out with the line “tryna talk to a wall but you could never tear it down for me,” not tip-toeing around the difficulties. We find the relationship woes of songs like “Is There Somewhere” off of Room 93 but with the confidence Badlands of “Gasoline.”
The video that accompanied “Now Or Never” was Halsey’s directorial debut. It was certainly a spectacle, inspired by the over the top and dramatic way of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet; there were stark parallels to film when it came to set design (the neon crosses were almost identical) and costume choices. The story line as well was incredibly Romeo + Juliet-esque, all forbidden love, violent delights, and violent ends.
Both the single and the video remind us of Halsey’s main strength: storytelling. Lyrically, she has always been a talented and empathetic storyteller. This time around, we also got to see her visual storytelling skills come to life. If the cliffhanger ending of the video is any indication, we may have a sequel in our future.