If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, touches on controversial topics in a beautiful way

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Lucas Garrido

Halsey’s new album and movie cover: If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

Power in the music industry is hard to come by; unless you are a best-selling artist or have a number one hit, your career is a constant battle of deciding what walls are there to be broken down and which ones are there as a marker, warning you to not go any further. 

Halsey’s latest album—released August 27, 2021—is fittingly entitled, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. One of her main intentions behind the album is to express the delicate art of knowing when you have gone too far. Through this piece of art, Halsey is able to effectively depict the horror that is self-preservation in a society that doesn’t fully accept everyone. Through songs like “I am not a woman, I’m a god,” I could feel the power and desperation in her lyrics, begging for people to respect who she is. 

The album as a whole has many meanings: breaking down barriers and female empowerment, and it is heavily tied to pregnancy and childbirth. Halsey gave birth to her first child on July 14, and with her new motherhood came a new array of problems that she wanted to address in this album. 

The eighth track on the album, “1121,” specifically speaks to the beautiful love she feels for her new child. Lyrics such as, “I won’t die for love, but ever since I met you, you can have my heart, and I would break it for you,” show her powerful and unconditional love for her baby. 

Through this piece of art, Halsey is able to effectively depict the horror that is self-preservation in a society that doesn’t fully accept everyone.”

Although the many themes that seamlessly flow through each song might not directly apply to each listener’s life, I believe that one of the magical parts of If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is that it has lessons that can be comprehended and learned by all. As I mentioned earlier, a few of these themes that could be interpreted into advice consist of unconditional love, boundaries, heartache, female empowerment, and many more. 

In addition to the chilling songs I have already mentioned, a few of my personal favorites are “Darling”—a sweeter toned song that dragged me in with its imagery, “You Asked For This“—which particularly hit close to home for me as it speaks to growing up and accepting your future, and lastly, “Honey.” I particularly enjoyed that song because it encompassed the same sweet tones, similar to “Darling,” but it also had a familiar pop beat that easily gets stuck in my head. 

The most astonishing part of this whole album is not the gut-wrenching lyrics or the colorful, yet distinguishable, feelings each song portrays, but rather the variety of themes, music types, and feelings Halsey is able to cover in one album while still not going too far. While I firmly believe Halsey has found love within her child—contrary to the title—power is the main takeaway. I felt it coursing through me as I listened to the album, and I hear it in my head as the lyrics dance on across my thoughts.