“The Tradition” introduces themes like exploitation, empowerment, and generational trauma.
I am thrilled by the bizarre phrase “flesh amnesiac” in the bridge, but I think the best moment in “The Tradition” has to be the hook: “Take what you want, take what you can / Take what you please, don’t give a damn.”
This feels like an evolved, world-wise sequel to “Hold Me Down,” the brilliant second track on “Badlands,” Halsey’s 2015 debut: “Selfish / Taking what I want, and call it mine / I’m helpless / Clinging to a little bit of spine.” The song was inspired by male label executives who tried to warp and twist Halsey into the kind of pop star they preferred.
At just 20 years old, Halsey half-sarcastically dubbed herself “selfish,” likely as an attempt to reclaim the gendered accusation — to cling to a bit of spine in the male-dominated industry where she suddenly found herself.
Now, at 26, Halsey uses the same sentiment as a mantra — no longer helpless, no longer asking for permission, no damns left to give. It’s a delicious full-circle moment.