Monday, August 29th, 2022

Halsey – So Good

Well, pretty good…


Al Varela: This is one of the best-written songs Halsey has ever made. A really charming love song where Halsey reminisces on the many years of yearning she had for her current partner, before everything finally turns around and she finds out he’d been yearning for her for just as long. The journey Halsey takes us through is strife with detail and compassion that paints the picture of a perfect world that actually manages to come to life. Production-wise, it’s not as gripping, but the little passionate wail they do when they reach the second half of the chorus shows a love that is true and has been long and coming. Lovely song.

Thomas Inskeep: No, it’s not.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: The bridge hints a much more interesting song about betrayal and romance, but the rest–especially the “I know it’s bad, but we could be so good” hook–feels massively underwritten. Halsey proved they can be more ambitious and still stick the landing on “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power,” so this feels like a regression. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: After eight years (a decade if you’re on Tumblr) of Halsey, it’s clear that she is what she is. Regardless of whether they are doing EDM crossover, pure pop, or 90s alt pastiches, Halsey has always been more interesting in theory than practice, always bringing in cool ideas and losing them slightly in implementation, let down by clumsy wordings or cheap-sounding production. “So Good” continues in this lineage for its first two and a half minutes, content to anchor some generic romantic observations in a strong hook and a generic instrumental. But in its last 40 seconds, “So Good” manages to break out of its trap of mediocrity, ending with a moment of beautiful clarity that almost gives purpose to the rest of the song. It’s fleeting, sure. But so is all great pop.

Nortey Dowuona: Halsey was an artist we covered here with either a polite distance or a polite disapproval, never hate or love – we saved that for artists we clearly felt a strong way one way or the other. Me personally, Halsey debuted with New Americana, one of the worst songs to have as a hit and the best sing to start a career with; deeply bland and gawd awful and I tuned her out…until I actually started listening, then I realized she was very good, and was trying. And with this song, I’m seeing the rising, loop synths and the soft, gentle tone Halsey presses against them, then the straining, heartbroken howl she bounces off the bright, overexposed guitar strings and limo bright drums in the chorus, and the wistful, thoughtful tune she settles as each chorus closes. As she wails through the bridge into the chorus into the end, I feel the sadness and rage, the shame and fear, the pensive and passion, it’s a feeling I never thought I’d have from Halsey. It’s a feeling that I felt when I saw the writing on the server wall about this site. It’s something everyone want to put across everytime they put the pain they feel at each broken relationship they struggle through and wrote down, played on the guitar, record into ProTools, play for random nice notepads in a sterile, unclean office, release onto the morass of every Spotify clone and cross their fingers. It’s something that I didn’t realize I wanted to keep close to me until I realized I was standing on the same sidewalk in August 2017, thinking I was gonna write about music and make some money. Then, in 2022, I got told I chased the money and lost the most special part: the music. Ed, we could’ve been so good, but I ran away, and I’m sorry.

John S. Quinn-Puerta: My first exposure to Halsey outside of blue red violet tumblr edits was the same as my first exposure to Machine Gun Kelly: Cameron Crowe’s short lived masturbatory Showtime dramedy Roadies. The running gag about the tour not being able to keep an opener was actually a way to shoehorn in whatever single the acts Crowe liked (or likely their licensing group wanted to promote) on a weekly basis. And yeah, there was something great about this show for me, a guy who seemingly can’t write about music without talking about movies or TV or fucking comic books, for someone who has difficulty writing about shit without bringing myself into it, who left academia because cutting too deeply into a telenovela ruined watching it for him. God, how many blurbs did I, in my not even two year tenure, bring up my parents in? But truthfully, what is the work that I choose to do (versus the work I’m obligater to do) but exploring what it all says about me and the people and art that made me? So yeah, Halsey will always make me think of that summer that I thought Roadies was good and didn’t know that MGK made “music”,  and I’ll never quite be able to connect to their music in a way I would have independently. This track, for all its effort, just feels like another dime a dozen single; I would fast forward through it to get to Imogen Poots and Rafe Spall flirting, and you, dear readers and fellow writers, will be unable to parse this blurb, buried in commas, semicolons, and the detritus of my perspective. I hope you’ll miss it. 

Lauren Gilbert: My first review for TSJ was a pan of a Halsey track, and so it feels fitting that my last review should also be.  Halsey is a frustrating artist to listen to; when she lets her mask slip and reveals her anger, she can write a damn good song (“at a tender age, I was cursed with rage” / “I’m tired and angry, but somebody should be”).  But most of her pop songs are deeply forgettable, and this one is no exception.  I’m glad she’s happy, but there’s no Max Martin magic here.  It’s not that the song is bad, it’s just not (so) good.

Ian Mathers: It’s my own fault for looking up these things, but this fairly standard narrative about the one who got away (directly and explicitly; that phrasing shows up in the lyrics!) takes on a new cast when you see the claim that the song is “about Halsey’s long-term relationship with Turkish-American screenwriter Alev Aydin, who directed the song’s music video and appears in it”. Given that I don’t know anything else about the two of them, suddenly it felt like “So Good” was someone Sliding Doorsing their own life, imagining a version where it didn’t work out, and maybe due to my age and marital status (tenth anniversary this November, still happy) it gave an otherwise solid but unremarkable song a strange, poignant charge. Then I noticed that the last chorus changes it so they do get together and read a bit further and discover the song is more about the period where they knew each other before they got together. And it’s still a perfectly fine song, but I miss the weirder and sadder version I had in my head for a few minutes there.

Michael Hong: Halsey seems to believe authenticity makes a pop song. They craft “So Good” around that idea, a song that gives you the cleanest image of Halsey just so it can pull the curtains aside and show you they have this lovely raspy voice and that it’s authentic and real. They write a line about Maria getting married, like suddenly that detail erases the nothingness of the rest, lines about a couple years flashing by and that one regret. It’s all just pleasant make-believe, edging towards something with each chorus without ever giving you anything, like La La Land, if La La Land were solely the glance across the club.

Alfred Soto: Until last year’s “I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God” I’d given up thinking Halsey could match 2017’s “Strangers.” Twitchy and plaintive, “So Good” can’t decide whether to revel in its mid-tempo-ness or accelerate. Given the squabbles with her label, I’d say the problem is chronic.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hushed vocals and Writing 101-level lyrical details transform this half-Taylor Swift, half-campfire singalong into the worst sort of calculated catharsis. That final, good yell points to Halsey’s career-long problem: an insistence on making sure you understand the severity of her songs before letting you feel it.

Reader average: [8] (1 vote)

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One Response to “Halsey – So Good”

  1. easily one of halsey’s best pop tracks imo. really sweet song