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Good times, music inspired by the Badlands National Park

Skylar Britt

Skylar Britt

Skylar Britt, Reporter

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Skylar Britt
Badlands National Park could be mistaken for Mars. The colorful striations in the rocks date back tens of millions of years, making the vast desert appear unearthly. It is common to be completely astonished and inspired by the wondrous beauty the landscape provides.

For Grammy nominated artist, Halsey, this preternatural terrain proved to be the ample foundation to launch her career. Her first album drew inspiration from the widely different topographies found traveling through the park. With alien craters and spires seen through much of this part of South Dakota, it is surprising to find large valleys full of green grass and thriving wildlife hidden within mountains, rocks, and deserts as far as the eye can see. Similarly, Halsey’s Badlands surprises the listener with every song.

Released in 2015 by the artist whose real name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, each song provides a different experience. The album was designed as a concept album, meaning that if played in order, it tells a story where every song is an important piece in the narrative.

Similar to the vast, exposed terrain found in some of the craters and deserts of the park, Halsey wanted to explore this idea of openness both in the sense of space and lack of secrecy. The album is completely honest and transparent with the life of the then 20-year-old, Halsey.

Badlands dives into the science of sound,” said Halsey during an interview with Last.fm. “Throughout the production, mixing, and mastering process, we attempted to create space with sound, so as if when you close your eyes you can actually feel the parameters of the room around you. […] For me, it was about creating a universe and making it so that people felt like they were actually being transported somewhere.”

The critically acclaimed album feels like reading from the pages of her personal diary due to her unapologetic honesty. Starting with the empowering melodies of “Castle”, her recognizable and raspy voice takes you through the twists and turns of the album, ending with her version of the famous Johnny Cash song, “I Walk the Line”. Similar to a rollercoaster, Halsey invites you through the ups and downs of her life with fast, upbeat songs like “Colors” and “Hurricane” to almost mysteriously sad songs like “Gasoline” and “Control” where the sense of anger can be heard through every word Halsey sings.

As can be said for both the Badlands National Park, and Badlands the musical album, no matter how many times these art forms are experienced, something new will reveal itself to the viewer each and every time. The boundless wonders of the beautiful park are something that should be seen by everyone at least once in their life. The awe-inspiring landscapes cannot fully be grasped until seen firsthand because pictures and words can never do it justice. It has to be seen in person and experienced in person because only then will the true beauty and incredibly large scale be able to speak to one’s soul as it has done so for many.

The same goes for Halsey’s Badlands. The songs may be heard in brief segments or previews but until you listen to every song, sometimes many times over, the true integrity of the album cannot be understood. 

Both forms of the Badlands are an escapade that should not be missed. As many of the park’s gift shop postcards say, “Visit the Badlands”. As many awards and nominations suggest, listen to Badlands because it is a musical journey you will not regret taking. For an ultimate experience, listen to Halsey’s album while traveling through the Badlands National Park. Skylar Britt

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Student newspaper of Park University
Good times, music inspired by the Badlands National Park