Hopeless Fountain Kingdom

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Music is probably the only thing in the world I love more than design. But the reality is that design, art, branding and music are all a lot more interlaced than one would assume. When an artist I like is releasing new music I will have two separate sources of anxiety. 

#1 Will I like their new music 
#2 Will the album art and design premise live up to my (ridiculously high) expectations 

On June 2nd 2017 Halsey released Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. An album that is now high on my list of all time favorite albums. But aside from how incredible the concept album itself was, the album art was a whole other conversation that we all needed to have. Halsey is one of those artist who goes above and beyond with aesthetic. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom has a loose tangled web with Romeo and Juliet. Halsey didn't just create a concept within her album though she created this entire visual world for us to get lost inside. 

Before the album dropped she released the album trailer on youtube a visual 1 minute and 26 seconds - sneak peak at what our new world was about to look like. Badlands (her previous release) was about to disappear and soon we would be stepping into Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. 

Instantly we visually see the Romeo (Solis) and Juliet (Luna)  divide. 'Two households, both alike in dignityIn fair Verona, where we lay our scene. The houses are visually represented by colors. House of Aureum (that Luna - aka Halsey belongs to) meaning 'Golden' in Latin is stylised by strong primary colors. Her hair is the blue / teal that is featured in the album art work, she is wearing red. We see golds, every color has debt and base to it. There is almost a filter of grungy structure to everything she touches. Then in complete visual contrast you see the House of Angelus meaning Angel in Latin represented just as you would think. Solis and his people are seen in white. The lighting is bright and pure, everything is crystal clear. 

But the album (to me at least) is about them both of them being so in love with each other that they are willing to lose who they are as single entities to be with each other. In an interview with iHeart Radio Halsey spoke of the album;  
"I was in a relationship with someone for a really long time, and I broke up with them, and then I sat down to write this album and realized I didn't know anything about myself. When I'm alone and I'm not in a relationship, who am I? Who am I without the gaze of another person? When I'm getting dressed in the morning, and they're not sitting at the foot of my bed, what clothes do I pick out? ... Who am I when they're not watching me? When they're not judging me? And that's a lot of what this record is about."
- Halsey[12]
At the end of the trailer it shows Luna cutting her hair - revealing a new WHITE (the color she had used to represent her enemies house) look which we see represented on the album art work. Through out the trailer, the art work and the singles released from the album we see a really beautiful and heavy theme of an almost fairytale. There is religious iconography, burning candles (reminiscent of the death scene of Romeo & Juliet) and so many little moments that I start to wonder just how creative one artist can be.

When an artist releases an album, a body of work or even a single song - the visuals that they give us can add so much depth and worth to the music. Not every artist does it, but with artist like Halsey or you could say Taylor Swift and of course I can't discuss aesthetic approach without mentioning the KPOP world with bands like BTS and The Boyz creating entire universes with come backs. 

I still remember watching that trailer for the first time, I remember the excitement of holding the album in my hands, I remember the 10 + pages of my journal that this album release dominated. This universe has been a second home since it's release. I respect Halsey as an artist first and foremost but her dedication to just how limitless that single word 'artist' is - is what really makes her one of a kind. 

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