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"Ghost" is the debut single of American artist Halsey. The song was released on the online streaming platform SoundCloud on February 3, 2014.[2] On July 28, 2014, it was officially released by her record label and later included as the second track on her debut extended play, Room 93 on October 27, 2014. It was re-released as the lead single and eleventh track off of the standard and as the seventh track on the deluxe edition of her debut studio album, Badlands, along the re-release of the EP on March 9, 2015, through Astralwerks Records

The song is widely credited as the starting point for the success of Halsey's career. It has been certified Platinum by RIAA[3] and Gold by ARIA[4].

Background

The debut single of the singer was written when Halsey was supposed to write a commercial for a yogurt company.[5] It is one of the first songs she has ever written and recorded after the unreleased "Tilt You Back":[5]

"So I came in, started writing this yogurt commercial and someone turns around and says, 'you're actually a good songwriter'. And I went, 'no, I'm just clever, I'm not a songwriter'. So hours later I get distracted and write 'Ghost', and 'Ghost' is the first vocal I ever cut. That vocal on 'Ghost' is the first vocal I ever cut in my entire life. The song was the first song I'd ever written. So two hours later I've made 'Ghost', I send it to my friend Anthony like, 'we didn't write the commercial, but we did this, what do you think?'."
—Halsey in an interview with Pop Justice

The song was released on July 28, 2014 on Halsey's Soundcloud account and immediately sparked attention from the public and record labels. The success of the song earned Halsey a record deal with Astralwerks Records.[6]

In an interview with MetroLyrics Halsey talked about the song's meaning:

"'Ghost,' for me, is a song about being in a relationship with someone who is not emotionally invested and then finally making up your mind to leave that situation and decide that you deserve better. And I did."
—Halsey with MetroLyrics [7]

She further explained the song on her Room 93 commentary for Spotify:

"'Ghost' was one of the first songs I ever wrote in like, an actual studio environment. I wrote it with my friend Dylan Scott, who is a band called Young Rising Sons. I just started The Halsey project, I had no idea what I was doing and I was writing like, acoustic songs before this. We sat down and we started like, messing with sounds and we wanted like these, “church-y, scary, shimmery sounds” – the words I used. Most people when you’re like, “Hey, I want shimmery sounds,” are like, “What?” but he knew right away. So we came up with “Ghost” and it ended up just being like my signature. It was like how I knew what the Halsey project was gonna sound like. It was our single and, you know, SiriusXM started playing it which was awesome. A lot of people give me a lot of weird looks for it because it’s like two minutes and thirty seconds long, it starts with the bridge, doesn’t make any sense, there’s like a rap, white girl part in the beginning in it, but we moved forward with it because we had faith in it, and I’m really glad we did… and it’s the fan favorite."
—Halsey via Spotify[8]

Official versions

  • Original release - 2:32
  • Re-release/album version - 2:33
  • Lost Kings mix - 3:09
  • 1 Mic 1 Take - 2:40

Cross-references

  • The lyric "I like the sad eyes, bad guys" starts the common theme of Halsey's appreciation for eyes throughout her songs, most notably in "Hopeless": "Gimme those eyes, it's easy to forgive", "Garden": "And I think your tired eyes are kind of nice" and also again in "Forever...(Is a Long Time)": "So I could look inside his eyes".
  • The "Devil In Me" lyric: "And I went tumbling down tryna reach your high" is a reference to the "Ghost" lyric: "I'm searching for something that I can't reach".

Lyrics

[Intro]
I'm searching for something that I can't reach

[Verse 1]
I don't like them innocent, I don't want no face fresh
Want them wearing leather, begging, let me be your taste test
I like the sad eyes, bad guys, mouth full of white lies
Kiss me in the corridor, but quick to tell me goodbye

[Pre-Chorus]
You say that you're no good for me
'Cause I'm always tugging at your sleeve
And I swear I hate you when you leave
But I like it anyway

[Chorus]
My ghost, where'd you go?
I can't find you in the body sleeping next to me
My ghost, where'd you go?
What happened to the soul that you used to be?

[Verse 2]
You're a Rolling Stone boy, never-sleep-alone boy
Got a million numbers and they're filling up your phone, boy
I'm off the deep end, sleeping all night through the weekend
Saying that I love him but I know I'm gonna leave him

[Pre-Chorus]
You say that you're no good for me
'Cause I'm always tugging at your sleeve
And I swear I hate you when you leave
But I like it anyway

[Chorus]
My ghost, where'd you go?
I can't find you in the body sleeping next to me
My ghost, where'd you go?
What happened to the soul that you used to be?

[Bridge]
I'm searching for something that I can't reach

[Chorus]
My ghost, where'd you go?
I can't find you in the body sleeping next to me
My ghost, where'd you go?
What happened to the soul that you used to be?


Music videos

The first music video for "Ghost" was directed by Alex de Bonrepos and premiered on October 27, 2014. It was filmed at the Pink Motel in Los Angeles, which was also the location of her music video for her song "Hurricane". The video begins with her kissing her boyfriend (played by model AJ English) in the motel room, but soon takes a dangerous turn as the two begin to fight.

A second official music video for "Ghost" was filmed in Tokyo and was directed by Malia James and Ryan Witt in late May 2015. Halsey said she was satisfied with the outcome. It premiered on June 11, 2015, and chronicles Halsey's relationship issues with a female lover. The video begins with a monologue in Japanese which translates to "Looking back to the past with her, she may have disappeared. It may have disappeared. Perhaps it did not even exist."

Trivia

  • This song appears on two different bodies of work: Room 93 and Badlands.
    • "Hurricane" is the only other Halsey song that holds this distinction, although it is only featured on the deluxe edition of Badlands.[9]

References

Badlands
August 28, 2015 • Astralwerks Records
Songs
Standard 1 Castle • 2 Hold Me Down • 3 New Americana • 4 Drive • 5 Roman Holiday • 6 Colors • 7 Coming Down • 8 Haunting • 9 Control • 10 Young God • 11 Ghost
Deluxe HurricaneColors Pt. IIStrange LoveGasolineI Walk the LineIs There SomewhereEmpty GoldTroubleYou(th)
Cut GardenGreat Big FeelingHonestyWolf
Artist(s)
Halsey
Tour
Badlands Tour
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