With Badlands, Halsey created a tourism site for the place she sang about and sent fans there to find clues. Getting one step ahead of her is near impossible. Still, the album two investigation is now open and underway; turns out, she’s been giving us things to find since 2014. I don’t even want to get into how she broadcasted it to a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden last summer and never said another word about it. She’s said the album feels “gold” and that it’s named after an actual fountain her ex-boyfriend built in Brooklyn. I dug deeper -- scary deep -- to bring you the past, present, and future of Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.
To understand the foundation of HFK is to understand the foundation of Halsey’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Zach Merritt. He was the subject of multiple songs on Badlands and the EP that preceded it, 2014’s Room 93. His Tumblr account is full of connections between himself and Halsey. He was the “boy who lived behind bricks.” Oh, and he is Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.
With his Instagram account and ownership of HopelessFountainKingdom.com, there’s no doubt that this name ties back to Zach. He has multiple IG accounts with names that don’t connect back, but their content is another story. It also looks like another project has popped up with connections to Zach, HFK, and bees (more on the bees later).
If all of that isn’t enough, let’s take a trip back down memory lane to the thank you notes on Badlands: Halsey specifically thanked Zach last, and ended his thank you with the letters “HFK.”
The most pressing mystery at the current moment is made up of four Twitter accounts that popped up in early March. There are accounts made for two people (Luna and White Nite) and two houses (House of Aureum and House of Angelus). These fit in perfectly with the Romeo & Juliet-style story Halsey has quietly been setting up. She’s been mailing out R&J quotes to her fans, and it’s obvious from her body ink that she connects deeply with the story. No other connections have come to light yet, but I’m keeping an eye out.
It seems fitting that Halsey would be Luna and Zach would be the White Nite, with Aureum and Angelus their respective houses. Every account has their location set to “anorev;” that’s Verona (the setting of the Shakespeare tale) spelled backwards. The only account without a set location is Luna’s. Does this mean Halsey isn’t yet in the Kingdom? Or that she left?
There’s only 14 tweets between all four accounts, but there’s more here than just the Shakespeare mystery. The first tweet posted by the Luna account was from a poem posted years ago on Halsey’s “se7enteenblack” tumblr account. The entire account has since been password-locked, but screenshots remain.
Then there are the bees.
I don’t know enough about the meaning behind the bees yet, but I know they’re important. They’ve been used as wax stamps on letters to fans, they’ve made guest appearances in Instagram posts and she had to remove “zzzzzzz” from her Twitter bio when she went on hiatus because thousands of fans tweeted her asking about the bees. When she came back from her hiatus, the visual content was all yellow. Maybe the yellow signifies the “light at the end” that’s just the sun in your eyes in “Young God,” signifying entrance to the Kingdom. Maybe it’s a subliminal campaign promoting Coldplay’s back catalog. Maybe she’s the Queen Bee in the Kingdom. Who knows, honestly.
Halsey released Badlands, in 2015. One year prior, she was already tweeting about the Kingdom. One of the first questions presented by fans has been, “Where does this album fall in the Halsey Universe?” Is it the prequel to Badlands, explaining what the Kingdom was like before some sort of apocalyptic event? Or does it come next, explaining where she was going when she said she was “headed straight for the castle” in Badlands’ opening track? Halsey has previously stated that Room 93 existed inside of the Badlands. Does the Kingdom exist within the Badlands? Do the Badlands surround the Kingdom? How does it all fit together?
In terms of the music itself, Halsey has a lot of places she can take this album. Her reach and influence are far higher than at the time of her debut, so she has options for how to approach this next step. She’s spent time with Brendon Urie both performing at Coachella and hanging out at Blink-182 concerts. She attended the Women’s March with Katy Perry, whom she tweeted about wanting to be the “older sister she never had” back in 2014. Perhaps you’ve heard her song with the Chainsmokers? Plus, we can’t forget her longtime friendships with bands like The 1975 and 5 Seconds Of Summer. She could have an album full of cool guests, or she could continue on the “no features” path set by Badlands.
Ashley Frangipane’s life has changed immensely since she was a Jersey kid making the trips into Brooklyn that transformed her into Halsey. Her music’s bound to change with it, compounding the fact she’s never been one to follow set patterns to begin with. Room 93 resided somewhere between electropop and alternative, while Badlands -- strong as it was -- didn’t take the head-turning sonic chances suggested by the dynamic personality that birthed it. But back then, she wasn’t a Platinum-selling artist with over four million Twitter followers, a sprawling fiefdom predisposed to liking whatever she releases.
She’s made it to the castle and taken her spot on the throne. Welcome to her Kingdom.