With their fourth studio album, Halsey brings powerful and creepy songs with empowering themes around feminism, love and the thrill of fighting for your desires. Produced by Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the album is Halsey’s strongest work so far.
“If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” was released alongside an hour-long IMAX film with the same name. The film was only released in select theaters on certain dates and has had no appearance on streaming platforms yet. The film’s trailer depicts a horror-meets-fantasy story with a Victorian era backdrop, featuring Halsey portraying a pregnant queen. The trailer is set to the sound of “I am not a woman, I’m a god” from her album. And, based on this preview, the film appears to have the same themes as the album.
The lyrics of “I am not a woman, I’m a god” bounce between the extremes of self-hate and self-love. Halsey belts choruses of “I am not a martyr, I’m a problem / I am not a legend I’m a fraud,” singing over an upbeat video game style synth and drum machine. Combined with a catchy — yet creepy — synth hook, the song gives a more modern feeling than the Victorian era trailer, but still maintains the horror style of the film.
Halsey’s feminist themes come across from the start of the album in opener “The Tradition.” Halsey’s vocals start out with a soft story of a girl being sold to various buyers, sung over the top of a piano playing in a minor key — best suited for approaching a haunted house. The verses depict a tragic situation for a girl who is powerless to stop it. Yet, by the chorus, Halsey powerfully asserts, “take what you want, take what you can / take what you please, don’t give a damn.”
Themes of love also come across in the album, beginning with a heartbreak song “Easier than Lying.” Halsey sings of breaking free from a toxic relationship in this upbeat, punk style song with a soft bridge, singing “losing you is easier than lying to myself that you love me.” However, Halsey also gives a more positive look on love in the album, with heartwarming odes to their partner, Alev Aydin, and newborn child.
The soothing, melodic seventh track “Darling” is meant to be a loving lullaby for their child during difficult times. Halsey gently sings, “Foolish men have tried / But only you have shown me how to love bein’ alive,” over a gentle acoustic guitar.
Halsey ends the album with a song dedicated to her two loved ones as well, titled “Ya’aburnee.” The title is of Arabic origin, loosely translated as “may you bury me.” While this song does not have the peaceful, melodic guitar of “Darling,” the sweetness of the piece comes out in the lyrics. Through the opening lines “I get undertones of sadness / when I think about the moments / that I never got to spend with you,” Halsey sets the tone of love and admiration for their partner and son throughout the calm, stripped down song.
Overall, there is no disappointing song on this album. Song styles vary from the sweet acoustic of “Darling” to the punk of “Easier than Lying,” but every song blends together under feminist ideals and love. Through strong songwriting and emotional music, Halsey has created a masterpiece with “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” and anticipation for a wider release of her debut film.