First Impressions: “Nightmare” by Halsey

May 17th at midnight, Halsey released her new single, “Nightmare”. Alongside the Audio track, she also released the music video.

So, for this first impressions I’m going to go into the audio and then the music video. I do find it dope that she released both the music and music video at the same time. Usually we hear the music first, then a couple weeks or so later we see the video.

Let’s get started.

Quick Sum-Up: Alternative singer-songwriter, Halsey, released her new single “Nightmare”, which was collaboratively produced by Halsey, Benny Blanco, Cashemere Cat, and Happy Perez.

Audio Impression:

Okay, so before going into the lyrics I wanted to point out the thumbnail and image she used. The photo she used has words on the left side of the picture. Aside form the thick title, “Nightmare”, the smaller words are interesting.

The words are describing what is called Nightmare disorder, which is basically just giving a definition for “nightmare”. There are also words that say what causes nightmares (ex: rapid eye movement) and just other partial information. I say partial because some of the words have been whited out.

Halsey is known as being a conceptual artist and having a theme, idea, and general flow & story line for each album. So, just looking at the artwork of this piece like choice of colors, fonts of text, and her fashion style, it can definitely be implied that this album is going to be much more alternative than the last album. Can I also mention her outfit is giving off both punk and BDSM vibes (just sayin’).

For those who do not know, Halsey is an alternative artist…not a pop artist. While she does songs that are pop leaning, her original/main genre has been alternative. This will be an important note for further analysis/impression.

~M.V.J

Now, moving onto lyrics. Here are the lyrics, graciously provided by Genuis:

[Intro]

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord, my soul to keep

If I shall die before I ‘wake

I pray the Lord, my soul to take

[Chorus]

I, I keep a record of the wreckage of my life

I gotta recognize the weapon in my mind

They talk shit, but I love it every time

And I realize

[Verse 1]

I’ve tasted blood and it is sweet

I’ve had the rug pulled beneath my feet

I’ve trusted lies and trusted men

Broke down and put myself back together again

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

[Pre-Chorus]

“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

[Chorus]

I, I keep a record of the wreckage of my life

I gotta recognize the weapon in my mind

They talk shit, but I love it every time

And I realize

[Post-Chorus]

I’m no sweet dream, but I’m a hell of a night

That I’m no sweet dream, but I’m a hell of a night

[Verse 2]

No, I won’t smile, but I’ll show you my teeth

And I’ma let you speak if you just let me breathe

I’ve been polite, but won’t be caught dead

Lettin’ a man tell me what I should do in my bed

Keep my exes in check in my basement

‘Cause kindness is weakness, or worse, you’re complacent

I could play nice or I could be a bully

I’m tired and angry, but somebody should be

[Pre-Chorus]

“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

[Chorus]

I, I keep a record of the wreckage of my life

I gotta recognize the weapon in my mind

They talk shit, but I love it every time

And I realize

I, I keep a record of the wreckage of my life

I gotta recognize the weapon in my mind

They talk shit, but I love it every time

And I realize

[Bridge]

Someone like me can be a real nightmare, completely aware

But I’d rather be a real nightmare, than die unaware, yeah

Someone like me can be a real nightmare, completely aware

But I’m glad to be a real nightmare, so save me your prayers

[Chorus]

I, I keep a record of the wreckage of my life

I gotta recognize the weapon in my mind

They talk shit, but I love it every time

And I realize

I, I keep a record of the wreckage of my life

I gotta recognize the weapon in my mind

They talk shit, but I love it every time

And I realize

[Post-Chorus]

I’m no sweet dream, but I’m a hell of a night

That I’m no sweet dream, but I’m a hell of a night

(Transcript/Lyrics Cited from Genuis)

The song opens with a common lullaby/prayer that is meant to be done before bed. This is namely a child’s rhyme that they say before bed so they sleep well. It’s clear that Halsey’s intention for this was to spin it in a more darker way and use the metaphors of dreams and nightmares.

Now, I won’t go line by line, but here are some of the more eye-catching and notable lines:

“I keep the a record of the wreckage in my mind,”

This line represents her albums and songs. Each song and album has been heavily reflective and biographical into her life, namely relationships.

Her second album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom was especially one where she wrote about her prolonged breakup and was trying to find herself (individuality) from that constant state of compromising with another person.Her stand-alone single, “Without Me“, is also a perfect example of reflecting on relationships and recording those feelings, thoughts, and emotions into art. So, this “record of the wreckage” is an homage to her previous music.


“Stared in the mirror and punched it to shatters
Collected the pieces and picked out a dagger,”

This is great imagery and a fantastic way to describe the metaphor of betrayal. Using the broken mirror shards as a hidden form of dagger was a clever way to bring that idea of “backstab”. It could be said that the person she was becoming was one she didn’t like, and realized that who she was was the manifestation and accumulation of actions that her lovers/society wanted her to be. However, once she saw that in the mirror and punched it to shatters, she realized that that mirror was a dagger and it was the problem the whole time.


” I got no one to smile for, I waited a while for
A moment to say I don’t owe you a goddamn thing “

I see this in two ways: one way for the fans/media and the other to her ex-lovers. I see part of this to fans and the media because when she did interviews for her “Without Me”, she made mentions of how her fans grew to expect answers from her about her life since she was so open about it. She said how writing that song was her response instead of that instant answer through social media (referring to her breakup with G-Eazy and their on/off again relationship). Now, the other part of this could be said to be for her ex-lovers. The idea that she doesn’t owe them anything.


“I’m no sweet dream, but I’m a hell of a night,”

This one strikes me as interesting, namely because throughout the song and video I couldn’t help but see similarities with her music and video to other artists. This post-chorus is the dream/nightmare imagery. The idea that they can look sweet or look like that nice dream, but in reality be a nightmare or a lot darker in personality.

It reminds me of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” where she says “Baby I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream”.

This isn’t to say it’s a bad thing. Honestly, nothing is truly original and so getting inspiration from other artists and pieces made is actually just part of the cycle of the human experience and those ideas, metaphors, and vivid concepts. It all connects and gets retold, just different in genre, medium, and format.


“Someone like me can be a real nightmare, completely aware
But I’d rather be a real nightmare, than die unaware, yeah,”

I think out of the entire song, the bridge has the deepest philosophical statement that I saw as pretty original and organic. The idea of being either unaware and “good” or being “bad” but at least being aware. Self-awareness is a very popular topic and idea explored within one’s 20s.

Music Video Impression:

Alrighty, so now onto the music video. Music videos are a great way to see the song in action; to see the artist’s visual representation and interpretation of the audio art they created.

Sometimes we listen to a song, but aren’t completely sure the message and meaning until we see the music video. There are pros and cons to this because everyone has their own interpretation and individual meaning and relationship with the song. Nonetheless, I digress 😉

Here’s the music video:

“Nightmare” Music Video by Halsey

Now this is where all those Easter Eggs and real visual metaphors is at. Reading the lyrics and listening to the song with your own mental picture of the colors and ideas is one thing, but to see the artist’s take can lead to a completely different look at the song.

Visually speaking, this video screams punk, loud, rebellious, alternative, and that darker side of one’s personality and sexuality.

One of the first things that caught my eye from the video was the more alternative/scene riot at the beginning. I think that based off this single and her feature with YUNGBLUD, “11 Minutes” (feat. Halsey), that she’s really going back to that early 2000s punk alt. scene. Her sound is more edgier and not really pop leaning like her previous album and single “Without Me”.

Another thing that caught my eye was her choice of outfit and hairstyle in one of the scenes that really looked like G-Eazy’s signature look (which he has since gone back to). They dated for over a year, so it’s no surprise that she’d have some unapologetic and obvious hints of him in there.

There was the star appearance of Cara Delevingne in that same scene, which actually came as a surprise. She does strike me as someone with a similar vibe (alternative, punk, tattoos, bisexual, both masculine and feminine, etc) but I didn’t expect her to be in the video. However, throughout the video there is visual imagery of women empowerment, women rights speak outs, and other political call-outs so I guess it isn’t that surprising that other stars would make an appearance. I think that in music videos there are more and more other celebrities outside of music making appearances in videos (ex: Kris Jenner in Ariana Grande’s song “7 Rings”, Gigi Hadid in Zayn’s song “PillowTalk”, Fergie’s famous “M.I.L.F $”, etc.)

Some scenes were definitley references to pop culture and media like the woman with the “surgical” lines on her body that was imagery and reference to body image and empowering curvy women to embrace themselves. Another would be Halsey’s leopard corset outfit holding a sign that read “You smile asshole”, which was imagery towards women’s rights and represented that cat-call of guys telling girls to smile.

I thin another “Taylor Swift” like moment I saw in the video was when she was dressed in a white outfit in that white room with the other girls doing a sit-dance in those chairs. It reminded me of Taylor Swift’s music videos “Blank Space” and Look What You Made Me Do”. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but some of the parts where Halsey is singing and dancing in that scene just reminds me of those two videos, one for the look of the jewelry/fashion, and the other for the dance sequence.

I think the scene with the white room was the only scene that I didn’t get that alternative/punk feel. That part felt pop and stood out. I don’t want to say it felt out of place, but just from my FIRST impression it stood out and didn’t match the rest of the video (in my opinion of course, not like I’m right though 😉 )

My favorite scene was the blue room and the leather getup. It was very BDSM and just dark sexual expression-like. I just lived for that moment and felt that it was such a nice touch and added blue to what looked like a very red vibe. Halsey’s played with colors as part of her concepts in the past; Badlands being cool tone colors like blues and sea-foam green, while Hopeless Fountain Kingdom was more warmer colors like red and orange.

The colors for this video seemed very edgy, with black, grey, white, and those very punk/scene colors. I did like how she added in those reds and blues for some scenes for that homage to her previous concepts.

Overall Opinion

So if you’ve made it this far in this post congrats, you’re the MVP.

I really LOVED this song, namely because it just has a different sound that anything she’s put out before and it really has a edge into the darker side of alternative/scene music. Her collaboration with YUNGBLUD kind of gave us a taste of that edgier sound, but this just takes the cake. I think that her future releases (and album) are probably going to have this more darker feel and it’s just so exiting to get a taste!

Now, I will say I do find it interesting (especially since her music is so biographical and tied to her personal life) how G-Eazy just dropped a song that kind of gives a couple jabs into his side of things. I won’t ruin this first impression with speculation or drama, but I did want to mention that since both of them are probably going to be releasing music back to back from each other since their album cycles are pretty similar (Beautiful & Damned and Hopeless Fountain Kingdom came out 2017, so new cycle starts 2019).

It’s kind of sad because I actually like both of their music and loved them together. I saw throughout Beautiful & Damned how Halsey helped out with concepts and kind of inspiring him with the idea of using a classic piece of literature as inspiration for an album.

Just kind of sucks being a fan of both, but also kind of interesting how I see both of their musics being clap-backs and callouts to each other, along with their takes/sides of what went down between them and what they say their relationship as.

What were your guy’s (and girl’s) thoughts? Do you guys/girls like the song? What do you guys/girls think about the Easter Eggs? Did I miss any?

Leave your thoughts below. I’m curious to see if I missed anything major from this first impression 🙂

~M.V.J

Mini Update:

So a couple of other things I forgot to mention that I noticed. One was the building (tower) and white room scene. Looking back into the video and some of the previous interviews that she’s done, I feel like that could’ve represented the government/political figures being rich and in “the tower of Hollywood” type of vibe. I wonder if it was meant to reflect those decision makers looking down on at the “underdogs” and reading about them in the paper. Another thing was the spider web scene. I mentioned previously that some of the scenes were very BDSM vibes and the spider web scene would definitely fit the bill into that as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s