Sunday, August 29, 2021

HALSEY: ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ - More Than An Album, More Than An Artist

A piece of art that deserves recognition. Halsey’s fourth album, ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ is a production that explores their thoughts and feelings during their first pregnancy.

This is something they have always been open about; their third album, ‘Manic’ features the track ‘More’ which acts as an open letter to a child. This was perhaps a seed planted to lead into this next chapter. However, ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ is a step back from a lighter pop to something a little darker, with a soft rock sound tying it together.

Being pregnant has its own difficulties and challenges, so being pregnant in the public eye is something else entirely. Their album description on iTunes mentions that “socially, women have been reduced to two categories: You are the Madonna or the whore.” This of course links to the album artwork which has a feel similar to that of the Renaissance, as well as painting a feminine representation and still striking as something new. Art that has something to say.

Let’s not forget that this album is also available as a film experience too, adding to that essence of horror that themes around this project. Life is not linear, the same is with the small journeys we take within it, pregnancy being one of those. To enter this world with the track ‘The Tradition’ provides a taste of how deep and expressive this album is.

This is an almost eerie opening to an album, with lyrics that cut deep about femininity and how it has been treated throughout history. Halsey opens the album by singing, “the loneliest girl in town is bought for pennies a price / we dress her up in lovely gowns / she’s easy on the eyes” - a haunting sound and a ‘tradition’ that has created a representation of women as objects rather than people.

Halsey being an artist in the spotlight reflects upon this throughout the album; is their body theirs? ‘Easier Than Lying’ fuels a pop-punk style that clearly shows their artistry, as it’s a song bursting with energy and lyrics that are as precise and deep as all of the tracks on this album. ‘Lilith’ expresses an honest depiction of what love may have felt like at a time and ties with the female demon, Lilith, from Jewish mythology and builds on this image of a star or artist. “The more that you give away / the more that you have / the more that they take” in that sometimes people are made out to be demons, though there is often a reason for that. It is here in the album that there is a search for power, which comes to be through the songs ‘I Am Not A Woman, I’m A God’ and ‘The Lighthouse’ which scream taking control and coming into such power. Control and power are interesting things to aspire for during something like pregnancy, which ultimately isn’t something we can steadily control.

Halsey tackles all of the feelings that come with that; it can be a scary thing to let go.

As well as tackling deeper conversations about femininity, about the scary parts of pregnancy and what that means, Halsey does also mention the lighter parts. ‘Darling’ acts as a lullaby and is a sweet song dedicated to their child. “Darling don’t you cry / head fast toward the light / foolish men have tried / but only you have shown me how to love being alive.” And to close the album with ‘Ya’aburnee’ is the most precious of endings. This is an Arabic term and translates to “you bury me”. A lighter ending, a warmth that radiates from their voice as they sing to those they love. So much that they hope to pass on before them, for a life without those they love wouldn’t be worth living. Ultimately this album closes with a realisation, in that they can use their power to choose love. That it’s been there all along.


Edana Graham


Image: Halsey Official Album Cover (Universal Music Canada)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Here;