This song finds Halsey praising individualism and not conforming to the rules of others regarding how things should be done:
We are the new Americana High on legal marijuana Raised on Biggie and Nirvana We are the new Americana
Speaking to Last FM, Halsey said how her diverse worldview was inspired by her parents' different music tastes. At the age of nine, the singer explained, she was listening to her father's 2Pac records and her mother's Nirvana records. "I was exposed to different cultures, different walks of life, different ideas […] so the older I got, the less scared me," Halsey continued. "And the less shocked me, appalled me, and the more open to diversity I was. […] I think that music has instilled this ideology in this generation."
Zane Lowe played the song twice during its Beats 1 world premiere and it became the second-most played song in the first month of the radio station's existence.
So who are the New Americana? "It's this idea of these kids who are part of a generation where pop culture is so heavily influential that diversity doesn't scare them the way it scared our parents and their parents. We're more accepting of different walks of life," Halsey explained to MTV News. "So I think the New Americana is racially ambiguous, people who are proud of their culture and they own it, possibly not from a binary of gender."
The song is also a light poke at the 'New Americana' generation. "I think, most importantly, the song is self-aware. It's a satire on a generation that is so poignantly aware it's become a parody," Halsey said. "For me, the song mentions my mixed-race upbringing in a very tongue-in-cheek way, 'raised on Biggie and Nirvana'… Overall, it's just a call to arms for the people in this generation (including myself) who used to be a part of counter culture that has become the norm."
The Jodeb-directed music video was shot in it Hawaii and features Halsey as the leader of a group of outsiders who is captured by the authorities. The singer is strapped to a bonfire which is lit around her, but she is freed by her followers and they are chased by the guards out of the jungle. Halsey told Radio.com: "Some of the scenes were so intense that I was leaving the set to go throw up, because of how physically strenuous it was. I was covered in blood and bruises."
Halsey explained the song to Billboard magazine: "'New Americana' is very much of this generation," she said. "We kind of make fun of ourselves. I made it as click-bait-y, nursery rhyme-y as I could. I was making this comment on how we have this click-bait culture, but a lot of people took it seriously, like, 'Wow, she's being so buzzword-y!' Ding, ding, ding - that's on purpose!"
Halsey continued: "People missed the intent, and then I watched the irony of that song growing as I turned into a click-bait-y wormhole where everything I was making fun of in the song were things that I was becoming in the eyes of the media."
Speaking with Rolling Stone, Halsey said this was "this tongue-in-cheek song that kind of got shoved down people's throats." She says the song got blown out of proportion as she was designated the voice of this New Americana, which was never her intent and led to a backlash. "I almost think the fact that so many people hated it so much is largely responsible for my success, because it made people talk about it," she said.