Following the massive success of her three previous albums, American artist and songwriter Ashley Frangipane, better known as Halsey, released their much anticipated fourth studio album, “If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power.” In the album, the singer, who uses she/they pronouns, pursues a deeper, more mature style of music. As per usual, they tackled controversial issues, such as misogyny and gender identity.
The beauty and intricacy of pregnancy and motherhood are also a major influence on the album since Halsey wrote this album during her second pregnancy. In 2015, the singer, who suffered from endometriosis, a condition which causes uterine tissue to grow outside the uterus and increases the chance of miscarriages, suffered a miscarriage right before a concert. This came as a complete shock to her, as in an interview with Rolling Stone, Halsey revealed that she “wanted to be a mom more than she wanted to be a pop star”. Completely shaken by this experience, Halsey threw herself deeper into her music and released two other albums, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom in 2017 and Manic in 2020.
Halsey announced on July 19th in an Instagram post the birth of her son Ender Ridley Aydin with her boyfriend, screenwriter Alev Aydin. Ender Aydin is featured on the cover of the album being held by his mother. Halsey has stated in numerous interviews that they wanted to emphasize not only the beauty of birth, but also the more bitter and painful parts of it.
The opening song “The Tradition” perfectly represents the raw emotions Halsey experienced while writing her songs. The track is an eerie metaphor for the struggles of women who work in the music industry. With the heavy repetition of the words, “so take what you want, take what you can, take what you please,” Halsey alludes to how women often have to “sell their bodies” by wearing provocative or revealing clothing just to sell their music. Even the title of the song, “The Tradition” is a reference to the seemingly endless cycle of discrimination and sexism women face in their life.
“Easier than Lying,” which is the third song of the album, bears a resemblance to some of Halsey’s previous singles like “Nightmare” and “Forget Me Too.” The song serves as a cathartic outlet for the artist as most of the verses are more reserved leading up to a chorus which is both vigorous and aggressive. Once again, Halsey showcases her versatility by switching between various genres, such as alternative rock and pop.
Differently, “Girl is a Gun,” which is the fifth song, is a very upbeat synthetic song, a sharp contrast to most of the other songs on the album which are slightly less ebullient. The bubbly animated melody was quick to catch the attention of listeners.
The lead single, the eleventh track, “I am Not a Woman, I’m a God” shows a different side of the singer as they express their complicated feelings about the idea of gender and not wanting to be defined by it. In an Instagram post, they revealed that pregnancy has “leveled their perception of gender entirely.” She is much more aware of herself and how to behave as the role model that she wants her fans to look up to.
Lastly, “Ya’aburnee” serves as the epilogue to a beautifully written album; it is an Arabic phrase that roughly translates to “you bury me.” Most times it is used to convey to another person that you wish to die first as living without them would be unbearable. It is a perfect conclusion to an album full of honesty. “If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power” is a powerful statement to the world of everything Halsey has been through and how regardless of it all, they continue to shine.