The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I have never called myself a Halsey fan. Of course I knew their songs “Without Me” and “Bad at Love,” and like many I spent most of 2016 blaring “Closer” by the Chainsmokers. The truth is, I had allowed myself to write Halsey off as just another pop rock princess who sang about breakups. They had a beautiful voice and were artistically talented, but I told myself that I had heard enough songs about love. That is, until I listened to Halsey’s new album, If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power.
Halsey’s new album suggests that maybe the most rewarding love, and the hardest to achieve, is finally loving yourself. Halsey has been very vocal in recent months about their struggles with gender identity, domestic violence, and endometriosis, a condition that can often cause infertility. Halsey just welcomed their first child on Jul 14, 2021, six years after a devastating onstage miscarriage in 2015, and lovingly calls this their “Rainbow Baby.”
The album, which features 13 songs and an accompanying film, explores the constraining standards set upon women to be submissive and sexual. Halsey describes what it feels like to be a nonbinary mother and an abuse survivor. Despite Halsey’s calls to take back autonomy and celebrate nonsexual depictions of bodies, they hold firm that their work is not a “girl power album.” It is an album that encourages people of all genders, sexualities, and manners of expression to take back the power that has been stolen from them. Like many of us, Halsey is trying to love and heal a body that has endured so much already. My friend Delaney said, “I listened to the album and I felt like I was regaining my sense of self.”
When listening to the album for the first time, I had difficulties picking a favorite song. They felt incomparable. Each of the 13 tracks belonged to a different genre and era. “Bells in Santa Fe” reminded me of the eerie vocals of Florence Welch and Lana Del Rey. “The Tradition,” the first track on the album, struck medieval chords, introducing haunting and prevalent lyrics about sexual abuse and power dominance into the timeless setting of a royal court. “I am not a woman, I’m a god” is the nonbinary power anthem that we were all waiting for.
Halsey shows us that you can survive trauma and come out as a fighter, not just as a martyr. I am now proud to admit that I am a huge Halsey fan. I finally listened to what they had to say, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.
3 Songs to Give Another Listen on If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power:
- “Easier Than Lying”
“Easier Than Lying” is a welcome transition from the haunting mantras that close out “Bells in Santa Fe.” This is one of those pop rock bangers that you blast in your car at max volume with the windows down. Seriously, I felt like I was listening to Paramore’s “Misery Business” for the first time again. This song makes it easy to remember that Halsey’s album was co-produced by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, the frontman of Nine Inch Nails.
“Darling” is one of the most beautiful songs on the album and in stark contrast to “Easier Than Lying.” Halsey sings along to the gentle sounds of the guitar, played by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham. The song is a warm acoustic ballad for Halsey’s newborn son Ender. It is a comforting break in the middle of the album.
- “You asked for this”
“You asked for this” is by far the most underrated song on the album. Halsey comes to terms with the consequences of their desires. They struggle to choose between settling for a stable, comfortable life, or throwing that away for a chance at pleasure and chaos. This feels like a song about growing up, having to prove your worth, and being told to “act like a big girl.” This song has already been added to my Coming of Age indie playlist and I am living for the main character energy it exudes.