Whether you're a fan of lightly S&M-inspired films or the high-intensity emotional stylings of the Fifty Shades trilogy, you've got to admit: the accompanying music so far has been everything. And the newest offering from the soundtrack is no exception to the excellent audio track record set so far. But what do Halsey's "Not Afraid Anymore" lyrics mean? After all, while the dark electro sweeps you off your feet, the words sung over them are fairly dense and symbolic, though — not unexpectedly, given what they're accompanying — also on the steamy side, content-wise.
They're also sex-positive, though this is a little tricky to decode on first reading. Halsey performs a few backflips with the metaphors, positioning sex as something evil and even referring to her sexual partner as "Devil." I know. What? Well, chill. This isn't a puritan novel or something; it's a frickin' Fifty Shades Darker song. As such, the singer seems torn between an enjoyment of sex and, a la Fifty Shades of Grey's virginal protagonist, Anastasia Steele, a fear that sex is so powerful that, if you're not careful, you could lose yourself in it. Which, while a little on the intense side, isn't a totally unsexy sentiment.
Strap on your seat belts. We're in full on passionate romance novel territory and in for a bumpy ride: the "eye of the storm" is presumably a metaphor for the singer's relationship, which I guess means it's not all hand holding and feeding each other Ben&Jerry's? Nope, it's presumably ultra dramatic, ultra stormy, XXX passionate.
Note how she's hungry for some good lovin': she's "dying to taste this" and "ready to feed now." I'm not going to lie. Reading these mixed sensual metaphors is making me confused and wanting to wolf down a cheeseburger rather than press my body against another human's, but this could just be me.
The whole theme of the song seems to climax (ho, ho) during the chorus. She wants to take their sex into unchartered territory. Vague, so no matter how kinky or vanilla you are (no shame either way, people, do your thing), you can insert your own fantasy. Smart.
Halsey is getting us to gaze out of the window on our way to work while listening to this on our headphones and think of smutty things for that person in our life to do with us. And then there's the "I am not afraid anymore" which implies that, like most of us, the singer has things she's not sure about doing and she's a little scared to do. Maybe more from fear of being overwhelmed by her feelings than by genuine discomfort, since, I presume this song is promoting healthy, consensual sex.
Here's where we get into the meat of the song. The first line implies that she used to be uncomfortable about being a lady who likes a bit of lovemaking, but now she's embraced her sexual side. But then there are lots of hints throughout the verse that she's still a little unsure about what sex means for her. She talks about what she wants as "impure" and "sweet talk with a hint of sin" and "Devil underneath your grin."
So what's all this seemingly sex-negative moral code about? IMO, this isn't about ethics. This is about the singer talking about how dangerous sex feels when it's really powerful. In Fifty Shades of Grey, Anastasia Steele starts off as a virgin and slowly lets Christian Grey push her boundaries more and more, and there's this constant back and forth between her enjoying sex and then having confused emotions about things afterwards. So I'd argue this is presumably what Halsey is paying tribute to here: loving sex but finding it so overwhelming and such a constant negotiation with yourself and what you're comfy with that it feels risky.
So in short, this song may need you to read through the lyrics a few times to wrap your head around it, but that's time well-spent. It manages to be both sensual and realistic about (a) how frickin' great sex can be with the right person and (b) how, if you want to venture into brave new territory under the sheets, it might demand a little soul-searching on your part. So it's not just a catchy, sensual slow jam; it's smart, too.