Some artists are known for making satirical songs, but Halsey is not one of them — or is she? She revealed how one of her early singles is actually a satire of pop culture. In addition, she says a lyric from the song’s bridge makes that clear.
The Halsey song that’s supposed to sound ‘basic’
Many of Halsey’s songs feature earnest singing and poignant dissections of relationships. She’s not a parody artist like “Weird Al” Yankovic or a satirist like Bob Dylan. However, she revealed one of her songs is a critique of vapid obsessions.
“New Americana” is a Halsey song that features references to Kim Kardashian West, Michael Sam, Nirvana, and The Notorious B.I.G. Halsey even paraphrases Biggie’s classic track “Juicy” in the song’s bridge. On the surface, “New Americana” seems to be about the evolution of America — hence the title. Halsey, however, feels “New Americana” gets misinterpreted.
In an interview with Oyster, Alex Kazemi asked Halsey about how she deals with people misunderstanding her work. “It’s so frustrating when people don’t understand the satire of ‘New Americana,’” She said. “They think it’s this insane basic pop song, but that’s the point. I wrote a song critiquing pop culture and I made it sound like a huge pop song.”
The layers of the lyrics to ‘New Americana’
Halsey noted how she’d come under fire for rhyming “legal marijuana” with “Biggie and Nirvana” in “New Americana” — however, she designed the song to be a “buzzworthy” mockery of pop culture. In addition, she told Paper that mentioning Biggie and Nirvana in the song was her tongue-in-cheek way of highlighting her biracial ancestry. She views Biggie and Nirvana as her generation’s equivalent of earlier celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.
Perhaps people would have reacted to the song differently if they knew it was a satire. Halsey pointed to a specific lyric from the track as exemplifying the mockery in the song.
“Has anyone heard the bridge?,” Halsey told Oyster. “I say: ‘What kind of bubble gum have you been blowing lately?’ In my other songs, I’d never say something like that. But the whole point of that lyric is me saying, ‘What kind of bullsh*t have you been talking? What kind of vapid things have you been obsessed with lately?’ Honestly, though, the fact people miss the point of the song is driving me f*cking insane.”
Halsey on her worst song
Interestingly, Halsey has had some harsh words for “New Americana.” When asked on Twitter in 2017, she said it was “probably” the worst song of her career. In contrast, she considers “Sorry,” “Strangers,” and “Bad at Love” her best tracks. She’s frustrated that people misunderstand “New Americana” — however, that doesn’t mean she likes it.