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5 things to know about Halsey before her Las Vegas show

Updated July 26, 2018 - 7:55 pm

Another day, another Shakespeare-indebted starlet with “Hopeless” tattooed across her derriere and songs about swallowing lit matches.

With Halsey coming to town this weekend, here are five things you need to know about the fast-rising 23-year-old singer.

She helped the Chainsmokers make history

You know “Closer,” that breezy, finger-snapping EDM truffle about defying time and legal prohibitions against mattress theft.

Back in late summer 2016, the song was inescapable, the dance-pop equivalent of the pit in Buffalo Bill’s home in “Silence of the Lambs.”

With Halsey dueting with the Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggart about doing grown-up stuff in the back of a likely-to-be-repossessed Range Rover, “Closer” became the first song to spend 26 weeks in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100.

Staying atop said chart for 12 weeks, “Closer” was the first No. 1 for both the Chainsmokers and Halsey, going platinum seven times over in the U.S. and currently ranking as Spotify’s third-most-streamed song ever.

Maybe they’ll be able to make those SUV payments after all.

She’s a lifelong comic book geek

It’s no wonder she’s Wonder Woman.

A self-professed comic book nerd, Halsey has been collecting superhero reads since she was a kid. It’s fitting, then, that she’s voicing Gal Gadot’s animated counterpart in the new “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” flick.

But Halsey’s love of comics is more than mildly interesting trivia: It informs her work.

Both of her records are concept albums with dystopian sci-fi themes, the musical corollary of the darkest corners of the Marvel universe.

Halsey’s debut, “Badlands,” features a narrative that is a post-apocalyptic metaphor for her frayed mental state at the time.

Its follow-up, “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,” is a loose, futuristic reimagining of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Speaking of the latter, there’s really no comparing its author with Halsey.

Think ol’ Billy Shakes ever did his thing in hot pants?

We rest our case.

Scoreboard: Halsey 1, Bard of Avon 0.

She’s a rocker at heart

Sure, Halsey’s purring, pulsating, synth-heavy songbook has little in common with Marshall stacks and the hair-farmer crowd — at least on the surface.

But in terms of ’tude, temperament and musical background, Halsey is more rock than pop, really.

The New Jersey native credits fellow Garden Staters Taking Back Sunday for inspiring her mic-whipping stage presence and lists emo stalwarts Brand New as a personal fav.

It makes sense: Emo is defined by confessional lyrics, heartache, emotional vulnerability and a general absence of testosterone.

For Halsey, that’s check, check, check and check.

She’s got legit Vegas connections

Blame/praise Brendon Urie.

Halsey has called the Panic! At the Disco frontman a significant source of inspiration. In a June 2013 cover story for Nylon magazine, she cited the Vegas-born rockers as the band that changed her life.

Another Las Vegas act, Imagine Dragons, also had a hand in getting Halsey to where she’s at today.

In June 2015, the band took her out as an opener on its “Smoke + Mirrors” tour, one of her first big breaks, setting the stage for the release of “Badlands” that August.

It was a bittersweet moment, though: Halsey had a miscarriage right before a show.

She performed anyway.

She’s another Soundcloud success story

What often gets lost in the false narrative about streaming music services being bad for artists is how they’re not at all bad for artists.

Halsey is another example of that.

While plenty of rappers have used Soundcloud to launch their careers, eschewing the traditional music industry gatekeepers, Halsey has proven that aspiring pop stars can do so as well.

In July 2014, she uploaded “Ghost,” which would later be re-released as the first single from her debut album.

The song quickly developed a buzz, and record companies came calling on Halsey, instead of the other way around.

This is an important distinction: When record companies chase artists, the leverage is in the hands of the performer, and that’s precisely how a musician gets a better deal, financially and artistically.

Case in point: Halsey says she signed with Astralwerks because they promised her more creative control, which is hardly the industry norm for a new artist.

By doing things herself, Halsey earned the opportunity to actually be herself, butt tatts and all.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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