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Sunday March 3rd

Halsey’s 'If I Can’t Have Love, I Want power' is nothing short of lyrical genius

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The year is 2015. You just got back from another stressful day of your freshman year of high school, throw your backpack on the floor and escape to your bedroom sanctuary as soon as possible. You plug in your dollar store earbuds and load up YouTube, melting away into the edge and fantasy that is Halsey’s “Badlands.”

The last time I really engaged with Halsey was her online debut over half a decade ago. To me, she is a champion of the radio; however, the video of her awkwardly singing Blink-182’s “I Miss You” has never left my mind. I remember the sheer potency of her collaboration with the Chainsmokers released a year later, arguably granting Boulder, Colorado its infamous status.

Halsey has been very successful in her endeavors, but her music post “Badlands” just never stuck around to me. Nothing quite left that magical nostalgic impression on me like her debut record did. She began to give off a faux self-made vibe that left a bad taste in my mouth. That, along with the internet’s constant field day with her indie vocals drew me away from Halsey. Her 2020 album, “Manic,” was a masterpiece of a record, but you could never find me putting Halsey on the aux. Her music, stained by her negatively gilded reputation, honestly left me disinterested. Her omnipresence on the radio took away from the true Halsey and unfortunately left an image of overplayed tackiness. Suffice to say, she lacked depth — leaving her true self only in hidden gems across her discography.

While these preconceptions still affect my mind, there is no doubt that “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” is an excellent album. For this record, Halsey teamed up with recent Oscar award-winning musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, also known as the iconic rock band Nine Inch Nails. The alt-pop mother released the album along with an hour-long special of the same name. The movie is an artful expression of the joys and burdens of motherhood, shining a truthful and delectable light on the artist. It tastefully works with the album and it really adds dimension, confidently putting the word ‘concept’ into ‘concept album.’

This rock album brings a new definition to rawness in music. The album and special in tandem explore themes of motherhood, rebellion, and coming to terms with yourself and the world around you. Through a magnificent blend of pop-rock and a hefty dose of experimentalism, Halsey weaves a web of wonder unparalleled to not only what I expected from her, but also to other contemporary artists. Halsey's independence profusely saturates this album, and her vocals are simply heavenly.

“If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” is Halsey’s fourth major album (Capitol).

This record is truly genre-fluid, as she flawlessly transitions from radio-friendly to garage band styles. I must note her infectious melodies are consistent throughout each genre she explores, and her lyricism is powerfully blunt. It’s a beautiful blend of the well-known fantastical nostalgia found in “Badlands” combined with subjects that are deeply personal.

Nostalgia is strong on this record but it is genuine and captured through the sound, rather than the edge and image as in her older material. On this record, I hear Lana del Rey, Fallout Boy, Michelle Branch, and Paramore — but most importantly, I hear Halsey as an artist, as a performer, and as a mother.

Top Tracks

  1. Bells in Santa Fe
  2. Lilith
  3. The Lighthouse


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