2017 No. 1s: How Fan Engagement Led Halsey to Her First Billboard 200 Topper

BB30 DO NOT REUSE!!!
David Needleman
Halsey photographed on Aug. 6, 2017 at Catalyst Ranch in Chicago.

HOPELESS FOUNTAIN KINGDOM
Billboard 200, Top Album Sales, Vinyl Albums, Digital Albums
(one week each)

“BAD AT LOVE”
Dance Club Songs (one week)

Halsey may have become a household name last year thanks to “Closer,” her ubiquitous No. 1 single with The Chainsmokers, but by the time that song broke, she was already selling out New York’s Madison Square Garden on the back of her visceral 2015 debut, Badlands, a Billboard 200 No. 2. So in setting up her sophomore effort, hopeless fountain kingdom, the 23-year-old multihyphenate focused on strengthening her ferocious connection to fans -- mostly through an immersive album backstory and interactive promotion, including fake Twitter accounts and scavenger hunts -- and on widening her artistic net. Working with her Norwegian ex, Badlands producer Lido, along with Benny Blanco, Ricky Reed and Greg Kurstin, Halsey diversified her sound and lined up major hits of her own, like Mainstream Top 40 No. 3 “Now or Never” and Dance Club Songs No. 1 “Bad at Love” -- and, ultimately, her first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200.

Halsey: I’m not a really decorated artist. I don’t get nominations or awards. [Topping the Billboard 200] was my validation that I’m more normal than I thought I was.

Jeremy Vuernick, vp A&R, Capitol Music Group: I think “Closer” gave her the mindset of, “I can make big pop records. Let’s fucking go.”

Glenn Mendlinger, senior vp/GM, Astralwerks: If Badlands was a record for the fans, hopeless fountain kingdom is for the fans and the world. She pioneered incredible levels of social engagement.

Vuernick: Halsey executive-produced hopeless. She was able to take arguably the best producers in the world, with different sounds, and make music that still manages to feel cohesive.

Halsey: I’m a multimedia artist. “Closer” was the best thing that ever happened to me, but not in the way you think. I can have a big song on the radio and it literally will change nothing. It will still be about my fans.

Billboard Year in Music 2017

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 30 issue of Billboard.


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