“Now or Never:‰” Violent Delights, Violent Ends

Emily Von Urff

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Fun fact: I may or may not have scared three businessmen with my excited yelling when I was watching this video in a gym parking lot.

That‰’s how serious I took the release of Halsey‰’s new single: I planned my day out so that I finished working out the same time it came out. Oh, the life of a music lover.

Let me formally welcome you to the kingdom: the concept behind Halsey‰’s upcoming album and home to two star-crossed lovers with a brewing war between their houses.

Yes, my friends, this is a classic Romeo and Juliet tale.

The music video for the album‰’s first single, “Now or Never,‰” kicks the story off in high gear with plenty of actions, details, and drama. Honestly, I could write an 80-page, all-caps dissertation about how much I love this video, but here‰’s a calm, abbreviated version of how much I love this video.

Let‰’s begin with the 1996 Baz Luhrmann Romeo and Juliet aesthetic; it beats the old-English, stiff dressed, sword-wielding version any day. The angel wings, the tarot cards, the candles, the long cars, the guns, the gangs, the white contrasting with the red, THE NECKLACES. Honestly, everything about this video is so beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.

While the video draws inspiration from the original text and recent film, it does give a new level of depth and direction to the story with some of its own updates. We have role-reversals. We have gun-fights. We have emotional lines that aren‰’t written in poetic, Shakespearian language. We have all of these moments that I could watch on repeat:

-Halsey screaming “I love him!‰” Chills, I‰’m telling you. Actual chills.

-Angel wings! Romeo in angel wings! Claire Danes isn‰’t the only pure, innocent one now!

-Any shot of the gangs driving down the streets in those long, vintage cars.

-The tarot card reading (I actually bought a set this week and I‰’m LIVING)

I love how this feels less like a music video and more like a mini prologue. You get a mix of song context and story content that acts as the perfect set-up for the rest of Halsey‰’s vision. The video comes with a feeling that there is more to this story; there is clearly a history to be uncovered and a future to be revealed within the album itself and other videos.

And, in reality, the video does leave you with more questions than answers. Why are these houses fighting? What is the future that the scary bird mask man saw? Where did our blue-haired Juliet end up after the fire-fight? Why am I crying about star-crossed lovers? Oh, that‰’s right, because LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL, MAN. JUST LET THEM BE TOGETHER. PLEASE DON‰’T LET THEM DIE.

I have an inherent love for concept albums which probably connects back to my love of stories. Nothing beats picking out symbols from a book or predicting the events of a movie sequel. Concept albums are like a triple threat; they combine music, books, and films all into one. You get a coherent story with its own personalized soundtrack and visuals that you can pick apart and create your own meanings with.

And Halsey‰’s hopeless fountain kingdom will the music-based version of Romeo and Juliet which is not something we‰’ve seen before. The music video has already proved that it can holds its own among the other versions. Only one question remains: does it endure?