Halsey’s “Nightmare” Lyrics Meaning

The titular “nightmare” is indeed Halsey herself. Or put differently, the purpose of this track is to let the audience know that the singer has a bad side, which she has come to embrace.

At the beginning of the first verse, we see that there are actually factors, specifically hardships and deceits she has faced in life, which made her this way. And initially her nightmarish behavior is not manifest externally but internally, as a form of self-hatred. In fact it can be deduced from the pre-chorus that she is suffering from some form of depression. She herself even admits she “ain’t got nothing to smile about” nor “no one to smile for”. But this is due to more than just an unhappy feeling.

What is it then?

It is an assertion on her part not to give in to the whims of people, not to play nice to them just because they compel her to. Indeed we see in the chorus that she is beginning to “recognize the weapon in (her) mind”, as in being aware of her own power. Also through negative criticism and embracing her strengths she is beginning to realize that she is “no sweet dream” but rather “a hell of a night”. Or put into layman’s terms, Halsey understands and accepts the fact that she is a bad girl, not a good one.

She’s a “Nightmare”

Thus in the second verse we find some of the ways she is a “nightmare”. And again, it becomes apparent that this behavior is a response to how people relate to her. So for instance, if someone asks her to smile, Halsey will instead ‘show her teeth’, meaning her ferocious side. Also she refuses to be intimately dominated by a man, as in degraded by them. In fact interactions with romantic partners seem to be near the core of her beef with the outside world. And Halsey understands that she could respond to these impetuses by either being “nice” or “a bully”. And she has chosen the latter because she is “tired and angry” and has come to the point where she perceives “kindness (as) weakness” or a sign of complacency.

Lyrics of "Nightmare"


So what this all boils down to is Halsey having gone through a “wreckage” of a life. And in response to the adversities she has experienced, the singer has now become a “real nightmare”.  In other words, she would rather play the role of the aggressor – or even a nasty person – than to suffer as a victim.

Facts about “Nightmare”

  • Halsey composed “Nightmare” along with three others, including her longtime collaborator and friend benny blanco. Happy Perez and Cashmere Cat are also credited as writers on “Nightmare”.
  • All the writers of this song (with the exception of Halsey) produced it. FYI, Halsey collaborated with all three songwriters the hit single “Eastside“.
  • On 9th May, 2019 Halsey first teased this track to her fans and the world. She did so during a show at Webster Hall, Manhattan, New York City. Hours later, she took to Twitter to announce both the song’s title and its release date.
  • Approximately eight days later (17th May, 2019), Capitol Records released “Nightmare” as a single.

On which album of Halsey’s does “Nightmare” appear?

It will appear on Halsey’s third studio album. For now, the album hasn’t been released. We currently don’t know the name or release date of the album. However, what we do know is that this song is the first single to come out of that album.

1 Response

  1. Mohsin Memon says:

    thanks for this post

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