For Millennials. By Millennials.
If you listen to Halsey’s new single, ‘Nightmare‘ for the very first time, you’ll most probably be taken aback. This is especially true if you watch the music video with it. As Halsey appears wearing tight, black, leather clothes with dark makeup on and emo vibes, you might wonder what happened to the sweet American girl she was in ‘Colors‘. Not that she can’t be both at the same time, but in ‘Nightmare‘, she only channels the former.
So what really happened?
Well, for starters, she got “tired and angry”. But as she said, “somebody should be”. It’s very easy to disregard the message in this song as “too feminist” or “anti-men” or even “crazy”. Which is why, it’s even more important to know the relevance and meaning of it in today’s world.
We can count on Halsey to come up with a loud and bold women-empowering song just when the world needs it the most. But how we listen to it and interpret it is up to us.
In the black-and-white theme of the video, she uses true punk-rock spirit to show just how “angry” she really is. Including stars like Cara Delevingne, she brings together some pretty bad-ass and strong women to depict the message of her song. Reportedly, even the behind-the-scenes workers of the video, were women. The male director was widely encouraging of this, especially since it was so relevant to the song.
The Reasons Why Halsey’s ‘Nightmare’ Is So Important
Halsey acts as the voice for all women when she openly scream-sings about her rights and the pain and injustices she has to face. More than that, she empowers women because she reminds them of their immense strength and resilience.
I’ve trusted lies and trusted men
Broke down and put myself back together again
While she mentions untrustworthy men, she also implies what it feels like to be let down and this could be in any form. Of course, this also might be a subtle form of shade towards her ex, G-Eazy. She probably keeps him “in check in her basement”. But the important thing to take from this is that she puts herself back together again; which means so can you, and anyone who’s ever been broken by people.
She continues, now changing the theme to body image:
Stared in the mirror and punched it to shatters
Collected the pieces and picked out a dagger
I’ve pinched my skin in between my two fingers
And wished I could cut some parts off with some scissors
The ever-critical digital world of social media and perfectionist culture has made it increasingly difficult for not only young women but also men to feel good about themselves. This usually happens because we can’t help but compare ourselves to other people. We see others post these edited (and usually fake) photos of themselves in front of fancy backgrounds all the time. We’ve gotten so used to it that we think that’s what normal looks like. But it’s not normal. It’s fake and real life isn’t as pretty as Instagram.
Mistreatment and Injustice
Come on, little lady, give us a smile
No, I ain’t got nothin’ to smile about
I got no one to smile for, I waited a while for
A moment to say I don’t owe you a goddamn thing
That’s right. Halsey doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing, and neither does any other woman. A lot of times, the kind of things that are expected from women are absurd. This could mean anything from being asked to strip for a movie audition to sex or physical relations being expected after only the first date. There’s no justification for this and never will be. And unless we speak out about it, nothing will change.
‘Cause kindness is weakness, or worse, you’re complacent
I could play nice or I could be a bully
The truth is that no matter what a woman does or how she acts, it’s never enough and is usually always “wrong”. We are criticized regardless of what we wear, what we do or how we speak. That’s what this particular lyric means. “Kindness is weakness” because that’s exactly how women are perceived if they are too kind or too sweet: they are considered to be weak. But on the other hand, if you are sure of yourself, you’re considered to be “complacent”. There is no winning this game. And the world can never be pleased, which is why we should stop trying. This is true for both men and women. We can’t let the voices of negativity get to our heads. It’s more crucial than ever to keep a clear mind and a solid conscience, and most of all, to speak out about these issues.
Moreover, Halsey sings what she has probably heard from a lot of men in her career if not on the street in the form of some cat-calling: “Come on, little lady, give us a smile”. If for some reason you’re not aware, almost all women have experienced being cat-called at some point in their lives. In fact, it’s pretty common and happens on a daily basis for most young women. Meanwhile, at least 81% of women have experienced sexual harassment of some kind. Needless to say, there’s a reason the whole #MeToo movement started. These statistics are horrifying.
‘Nightmare’ Is About Freedom
No, I won’t smile, but I’ll show you my teeth
And I’ma let you speak if you just let me breathe
Everyone has an equal right to speak and to voice their opinions. So yes, we will let you speak but you need to let us breathe. This is an indication of how Halsey, just like a lot of women, may feel suffocated because of unfair social norms or expectations and injustices. We’re not really trying to be a ‘Nightmare‘ , but if that’s what we have to be to fight for our rightful equity and freedom, then that’s what we will be. Let us breathe and we will let you speak.