“Without Me” boasts an atmospheric blend of synths that swirl around thumping percussion. Halsey delivers a potent vocal performance – which she noted on Twitter, nods at Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” – as she sings about a partner whose spirits she helped lift, only to later be spurned. “Tell me how’s it feel sittin’ up there,” she sings, “Feeling so high but too far away to hold me/ You know I’m the one who put you up there/ Name in the sky/ Does it ever get lonely?/Thinking you could live without me.”
In an interview with Zane Lowe on his Beats 1 radio show, Halsey noted that “Without Me” was a particularly personal song, and the first she’s ever written under her real name, Ashley. “I think that’s what I’m kind of getting at is that it’s like it’s not protected by some character or some subplot,” she said of the song. “It’s like this is really me talking about my life. It kind of gave me like an existential crisis as an artist a little bit, because I’ve prided myself on being an artist who’s authentic and writes about her life and all that stuff. And then when I made this and I felt just how bad it hurt.”
Though “Without Me” marks Halsey’s first solo record since 2017, she recently teamed with Benny Blanco and Khalid for a new track, “Eastside.” The trio are set to perform the song on the American Music Awards, which will air October 9th on ABC.