Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom is finally in our hands, but are we ready for it? Personally, I feel like I forgot to complete the required readings between albums, and now I’m not prepared for Halsey school to be back in session. Taking in the audio/visuals for HFK without having first seen Baz Lurhmann’s adaptation of Romeo & Juliet is a bit like watching TV without sound or subtitles: you’re not getting the whole experience. So much of the album’s aesthetic is inspired by the 1996 film, and it feels like we’re cheating Halsey if we listen without putting in our half of the work.
As a person who is neither a Shakespeare buff nor a movie buff, I was set up for failure here. I’m a chronic movie sleeper, so the chances of me getting all of the necessary information from the film was… how shall I say… not good. I know I can’t be the only person out here who wasn’t expecting to have coursework due on Friday, so I’ve taken one for the team and searched for all the Romeo & Juliet references you may have otherwise missed in Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Here is your cheat sheet:
The Twitter Story
Halsey has created—through her videos and four mysterious Twitter accounts: Luna, Solis, House of Aureum, House of Angelus—two star-crossed lovers. Luna Aureum and Solis Angelus (Moon & Sun in Latin… literally star-crossed) live in “Aronev” according to their Twitter profiles, a clear call to Verona, the setting of R+J. They’re each followed by their respective house, but the houses don’t follow the other person, which in 2017 is a drama worthy of kicking off Shakespearean classic.
At first it seemed like this could be the work of fans, setting up accounts as they learned more about the album. However, the accounts eventually started inviting fans to events and releasing details before they were publicly known. For those who found the accounts before anything was announced, it was like holding the keys to the kingdom. How will they come into play now that the album is out? Will these characters continue on into future albums? So many questions, and literally… zero answers.
While their accounts call to Verona, the “Now Or Never” video is filmed in Mexico City, the same city where they filmed—you guessed it—the 1996 Romeo + Juliet movie. Much of the set design is similar, and not just in the outdoor shots. As witnessed in the “Now Or Never” video, there’s a focus on neon crosses, as well as gold ornate objects with candles.
More evidence pointing towards the link to the 1996 film as opposed to any other adaptation: the costumes. Halsey (Luna) wears the red floral shirt that Leonardo DiCaprio wears in the film, and Don Lee (Solis) wears the angel wings of Claire Danes’ Juliet.
Alright, are we ready to dig into details? Because if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s diving far too deep into Halsey’s world and finding every last detail until I’ve (almost) taken all the fun out of it. Let’s do it!
— Rebecca (@rebeccamccainn) March 5, 2017
Back before we knew what was going on with Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, Halsey was already sending out R+J quotes in the mail to fans. Making things even more mysterious, she didn’t include her name or any information tying it back to her. Good thing her fans already know her well enough to connect the bees and Shakespeare quotes back to her.
Some fans across America woke up to a newspaper on their doorstep that features some clues and hints about hopeless fountain kingdom. pic.twitter.com/CdVH86trAf
— h (@halsey) April 28, 2017
She also mailed out newspapers for the Kingdom Times to multiple fans, hiding the tracklisting and hints about the album within. I have no idea how these people have gotten themselves onto her list of “people to send cool secret things to” but I would like to be added, please. The newspaper says “October 7th” on it, despite being sent out in April. I’m currently setting an alert in my Calendar app so I check in the fall for whatever she’s up to. Also in the newspaper is a strange combination of names. Solis – normally the male playing the Juliet role – has switched from house Angeles to Aureum. Does this mean something? What is it? How many more secrets is she keeping??
And I assume by now we’ve all seen the tour dates poster, correct?
Well hey, that bullet going through the bottom of the poster seems innocent enough. You can’t try and tell me that…
Well oh my god.
Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean
Well from the very first moments of the album… I don’t know, they seem pretty R+J inspired. And by “inspired” I mean that the album’s first 90 seconds is Halsey reciting the introduction to the play. I literally could not have asked for a more obvious reference.
The album itself doesn’t have any other direct references, but Halsey’s made it clear that the subjects of the web she’s weaving are following Shakespeare’s classic story. At this point, we have to wait and see what more will be discovered through future videos, as well as her upcoming arena tour.
Halsey has already mentioned that the character being played by Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui is a dead giveaway to a plot point, so she won’t yet announce how she ties in… and I just know the stage setup is going to play into this somehow as well.
So what are your thoughts so far? Do you like the album? Did I miss any glaring references? Seeing as Halsey started planning and hinting at this album BEFORE she even started on Badlands, I feel like the chance I missed something in the last 2 years is entirely possible.
No matter your thoughts on the album so far, I think we need to take a moment and really hand it to Halsey for putting together this entire universe. Plenty of artists record a great album and put on a great live show, but not just anyone can create an entire cast of characters, settings, events, secret messages, newspapers, etc. and have everyone understand and go along with it.