By Kristen Hawley | 24 March, 2023
(Halsey’s pronouns are she/they)
Halsey’s been a long time underrated songwriter in the industry. Inspired by hip-hop flows and literature, there is a certain style to her writing that is poetic, cinematic, yet grounded. While their first album didn’t get much radio
play, they did find mainstream success with radio hits such as, “Bad at Love”, “Eastside”, “Be Kind”, and the 2016 summer anthem, “Closer.”
Like most artists, Halsey’s personal life plays out in front of the public. While she is an open book with fans and her music details mental health struggles, fame, identity, and navigating love, headlines only capture glimpses of who she is. But, their very public relationship with rapper, G-Eazy, caught the attention of the world.
Their relationship began in 2017, followed with the release of their chart-topping, Bonnie and Clyde style collaboration, “Him & I”. Their relationship drew a lot of attention and scrutiny as it was flooded with stories of artist feuds, drama, drug use, and cheating allegations. The latter seemed to be the nail in the relationship’s coffin as they broke up in 2018. Halsey then went on SNL to perform “Without Me”, her highest-charting solo single that was inspired by the relationship. During their performance, multiple confessions of infidelity were plastered on the walls. She really brought the receipts.
Post-breakup, Halsey kept busy. She spent majority of 2018-2019 working on her third album, Manic, featuring on benny blanco and Khalid’s “Eastside”, releasing a solo single, “Nightmare”, before pairing up with Post Malone for his highly successful third album, Hollywood’s Bleeding.
She was a featured artist on the track, “Die For Me”, alongside rapper Future. “Die For Me” is a criminally underrated track that unfortunately didn't get much radio love due to the multiple songs off the album charting on the Billboard Hot 100.
Listeners, Posty and Future fans included, collectively crown Halsey’s verse the song’s highlight. The verse vividly describes discovering a partner’s infidelity, but it’s the furthest thing you would expect to hear from an emotionally betrayed person. It’s not sad or somber. It’s vengeful rage in its purest form. You can hear the venom spitting out of Halsey’s mouth with each line. Her verse seems more aligned with a diss typically seen in a rap song than a heartbroken pop ballad response.
The verse has some gut-punching lines. My favorite is “I sold 15 million copies of a break-up note”. It’s a nod to the record-breaking success of “Without Me” that has self-praise and gloating dripping all over it.
While “Without Me” was inevitably played at every award show and on each radio station you flipped to, “Die For Me” flew under the radar - except for Halsey stans. When Halsey began the Manic tour (which was cut short due to the pandemic), there was a section where they performed “Eyes Closed” from Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. While “Eyes Closed '' was ending, she sang “You said you’d die, you die, you die. But you lied, you lied, you lied” which is the backing vocals of “Die For Me”. Then the music swiftly transitions and Halsey went right into their verse and a chorus of “Die For Me”. Fans went berserk.
In 2022, Halsey was back on tour after releasing their fourth album, I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. Of course, she wasn’t going to miss the chance to perform a fan favorite. In typical Halsey fashion, the previous transition and visuals would not be repeated. Giving a fresh and new rendition, this time she performed a rock demo version of “1121” before sliding into “Die For Me”.
For years, fans have been teased with the idea that on a harddrive somewhere, there was Halsey’s full length version of “Die For Me” and finally on February 24th, fans got the long-awaited and highly-anticipated track. The single was a seemingly final acknowledgement of her past heartbreak.
“Die 4 Me” has the same sonic makeup and chorus as “Die For Me”. It includes her original acclaimed verse as well, with an update to the line “ I sold 15 million of a break-up note” to reflect the now 40 million copies sold of “Without Me”. Ah, not only does time heal wounds, but breaking records sure helps too.
With this release, fans were expecting a three minute long rage anthem, they were met with something unexpected. “Die 4 Me” is a subtle reflection of a destroyed relationship. The pain and betrayal is there, it’s just subverted. There are moments directed specifically at an ex with lyrics like “I hope you think about me every time you touch it/ I hope your new girl hears it and she loves it”. But, overall the tone is reminiscence of a person sharing lessons learned from the warning signs they ignored: “This is the last time, I'ma do you the honor/I gave you a headline, I know I shouldn't bother/ This is a lesson to take, hold someone tight and they break.”
Similar to the original verse, the single has Halsey’s edge and lyrical bite that keeps listeners engrossed. I was almost tempted to pause the song after each line to let the words have the proper time to really sink in. But the main difference between her verse on Post Malone’s album and this full-length version is her wound isn’t fresh, it’s scabbed over. “You seek to hide, you're dead inside, won't see me cry.” Whether it has been time, success, or motherhood, Halsey wrote “Die 4 Me” from a place of growth and contentment.
I love how the cover art and video visualizer is also pulled from her tour performance visuals. It’s like a quiet “thank you” to fans for their overt love and support that an artist usually doesn’t receive for their features.
This release marks the end of a highly publicized story of heartbreak. Halsey was able to give fans her final say on the situation. “Die For Me” was for those whose hearts were shattered. Halsey gave us permission to use her words as a method to get out the hate and rage and to sit in our pain and say “look what I am because of you.” But, now they gave us “Die 4 Me” to reassure us that the pieces of ourselves will come back together. And once again, giving us their words to usher in a period of healing and reflection and hopefully be able to say, “look at what I am in spite of you.”