Halsey's "Castle" Lyrics Are All About Toppling The Patriarchy
If you haven't already, this Sunday should ensure that you add Halsey to your list of "totally badass singer/songwriters." After being taped on Saturday, viewers will get to see Halsey perform "Castle" at the MTV Movie Awards on April 10. It's her inaugural performance of the song, which appears in the movie The Huntsman: Winter's War, and the singer told MTV that it is "so important to [her] as a woman." To find out what makes it so special, an analysis of the "Castle" lyrics is in order.
The opener to Halsey's 2015 album, Badlands, "Castle" is one powerful jam. Her harrowing vocals deliver heartening lyrics over a hypnotic trip-hop beat, aligning the track perfectly with the "PBR&B" sound that her fans will surely identify with. Halsey also told MTV that the performance would "look sick," and given the haunted aura of the song, I'm sure she followed through on that promise.
Through its lyrics, the message of "Castle" is clear: Halsey does not like being told what to do. The song makes it sound like she is resistant to the trappings of fame, namely the pervasive over-involvement of strangers in her life. Though Halsey has only released one record thus far, she already seems attuned to the stress that occurs when the public feels entitled to make her private life their business. Listen to the song below, and then consider the opening lyrics.
Sick of all these people talking, sick of all this noise
Tired of these cameras flashing, sick of being poised
In the next lyrics, Halsey is clearly disturbed by the problems facing her, but seems to feel as though any complaints she lodges fall on deaf ears. She recognizes that having a sense of pride is part of her salve, as well as her downfall.
And now my neck is wide open, begging for a fist around it
Already choking on my pride, so there's no use crying about it
The pre-chorus of "Castle" utilizes Biblical references to emphasize the weight of Halsey's perceived dilemma. She repeats the Latin phrase "Agnus Dei," which in Christianity invokes the image of a sacrificial lamb and is often used in reference to Jesus Christ. In "Castle," this could signify a feeling of being burdened with expectations that are impossible to fulfill without experiencing some sort of collapse.
From there, the song goes into its chorus, and in an interview with Coup de Main magazine, Halsey explained that these lyrics are an extended metaphor for how she feels about patriarchal society.
I'm headed straight for the castleThey wanna make me their queenAnd there's an old man sitting on the throne that's saying that I probably shouldn't be so mean
I'm headed straight for the castleThey’ve got the kingdom locked upAnd there's an old man sitting on the throne that's saying I should probably keep my pretty mouth shutStraight for the castle
Halsey said that the old man is "representative of a patriarch," and explained that when she first started to perform, the music industry's perception of artists hindered her moments when she went to "rock out onstage." She also told Coup de Main that she had a breakthrough moment after wondering, "'Is this too revealing? Is this too blah blah blah?' Or, 'Should I not say this? Maybe I shouldn’t curse.’"
One day, that thinking changed, as she explained to the magazine, she "eventually just starting being like, 'Why the f*ck do I care? Why do I care? If I’m not offending anyone’s race or creed or beliefs to a level of political incorrectness, then why do I have to f*cking please anyone? I have no-one to please." I told you she was a badass.
With lyrics like these, I'm looking forward not just to seeing Halsey's MTV Movie Awards performance, but hearing what messages she has to share in future songs.