Without Me

Without me tits.jpg

Date Aired
February 17, 2019
Running Time
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Todd plays "Without Me" on the piano.

A pop song review

Todd: Wanna hear a funny thing that happened about a month ago?

Clip of Halsey - "Bad at Love"

Halsey: I'm bad at love

Todd (VO): Okay, so you know that song, "Bad at Love" by Halsey?

Todd: You know, [singing] I'm bad at love, ooh, ooh.

Todd (VO): Yeah, it's a song about all her bad relationships, and in the verses, she goes into them one by one and how they all failed?

Halsey: So I told him that I never really liked his friends

Now he's gone and he's calling me a bitch again

Todd: Well, my buddy, the Rap Critic (screenshot of Todd and Rap Critic from Mac and Devin Go to High School ), you remember him, a while back, he pointed out she's supposedly so (screenshot of RC's Twitter feed) bad at love, but she doesn't do anything wrong in the song.

Halsey: But I never got the chance to make her mine

Because she fell in love with little thin white lines

Todd (VO): You know, it's like, "Well, this guy is a sexist asshole, or this girl I dated had a drug problem." "So, how is Halsey supposedly so 'bad at love' when they're the fuck-ups?" was his question.

Todd: Now, I already thought of that. So, I told him, well, [Screenshot of Todd's tweet] obviously, it's about her having bad taste. Bad taste in men/women.

Todd (VO): If these are the kinds of people she attracts, she can reasonably call herself "bad at love".

Todd: I was pretty satisfied with that interpretation.

Todd (VO): But, like a month ago, I realized... wait a minute.

Todd (VO): What about that last verse?

Halsey: London girl with an attitude

We never told no one but we look so cute

Both got way better things to do

But I always think about it when I'm riding through

Todd: Okay, hold on. No one did anything wrong there.

Todd (VO): No one got hurt. That was just a casual thing that fizzled out. How does that fit the song? How does that make her bad at love?

Todd: Pfft, maybe she's "bad at love" because she gets all dramatic about things that aren't problems... and I posted all that [screenshot of Todd's Twitter feed]. That's the type of high-quality content you can find on my Twitter feed, subscribe now.

Todd: I didn't expect her to respond.

Screenshot of Halsey's replies to Todd's Twitter

Todd (VO): I don't know how she found it but right after I posted that, Halsey, the actual fucking person, popped into my mentions to explain her songwriting choices to me.

Todd: I was not prepared for that, and I backpedaled hard enough to leave a Todd-shaped [image of impact silhouette] hole in the wall behind me. And I explained that I did like the song and I was just kidding around, [screenshot of Todd's reply to Halsey] ha ha ha. I think I called her "ma'am" at one point ["maam" is now circled in red and labeled "LOL"] even though I'm ten years older than her. I don't remember cause I blacked out from embarrassment. [screenshot of Todd's tweet reading "............well that backfired"] When snark goes wrong.

Todd: For what it's worth, I wasn't sucking up to her. I do like that song. [screenshot of Halsey's tweet] Although she did say she meant that chorus kind of facetiously like, "Oh well. Guess I just suck!"

Clip of "Bad at Love"

Todd (VO): As a critic, I would respond that...

Todd: ...she may have written it facetiously but she didn't sing it that way.

Halsey: I'm bad at love

Todd (VO): It seems very sincere and that's where it gets its power, and I think the verses could've stood to be a little darker. I think these are all based on real relationships and it might have worked out a little better if she'd just made something up instead.

Todd: In any case, right after my brush with fame,...

Clip of Halsey - "Without Me"

Todd (VO): ...her career hit its biggest height yet: [screenshot of Forbes article: "Halsey's 'Without Me' Becomes Her First Solo No. 1 Hit"] a number one single. I took that as a sign.

Todd: Cause, heh heh, [screenshot of Todd's "............well that backfired" tweet] Halsey has been on my mind quite a bit in the last month. So I thought now would be a good time to discuss her and her massive smash hit, "Without Me".

Halsey: Thinking you could live without me

Thinking you could live without me

Baby, I'm the one who put you up there

I don't know why (yeah, I don't know why)

Todd: This is a number-one hit, seriously?

Halsey: Tell me how's it feel sitting up there

Feeling so high, but too far away to hold me

Todd: Okay, so uh,...

Todd (VO): I'm listening to this and, uh, actually this is provoking a lot of thoughts in me.

Todd: Like uh... why do I even listen to this kind of music again?

Todd (VO): Wow, that sounded way harsher than I meant it. That wasn't like, a slam on the song. It's just something I've been asking myself a lot in these...

Todd: ...pop-anemic last couple of years.

Todd (VO): Like, "What am I doing here? I didn't come naturally to plastic, bubblegum music. I hated that shit growing up. Why do I bother now?"

Todd: Well, I dunno. Why do I go to those stupid superhero movies every couple of months? [Clip from Captain Marvel trailer] I like big, larger-than-life figures with splashy colors and costumes and fight scenes. [Movie clip] I could be seeing indie dramas, but those are about regular people. Pfft, who cares? Call me a shallow critic if you want, but I'm not that interested in music that's just music. [clip of Rihanna ft. Jeezy - "Hard"] I like the big, gaudy videos and biographical career arcs, and all that stupid extra stuff. [collage of famous musicians] I like music with mythology attached to it, the big iconic figures, and in the late 2000's when I started reviewing music, those icons [clip of Ke$ha - "We R Who We R"] were all pop stars. It really is just the same nerdy impulse that made me into comic books as a kid. You got these larger than life figures in ridiculous costumes, and every release is an event. That's my nerd cred. You may have [image of...] all 42 volumes of the original Dragon Ball manga, but I listen to mainstream music! (NEEEEEEEEERRRRRDDDD!!)

Clip of Lady Gaga - "Born This Way"

Todd (VO): So yeah, that's basically how I got into this. The pop stars like Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, those are my superheroes...

Todd (VO): ...or at least they were before the bomb dropped.

Clip of Lorde - "Royals"

Lorde: I've never seen a diamond in the flesh

Todd (VO): In hindsight, Lorde's big anti-pop pop anthem, "Royals" seems like the shockwave that destroyed everything.

Todd: Basically, [images of Superman comics] Lorde killed Superman and now we're in some kind of post apocalyptic dystopia comic instead. It didn't happen right away of course, ["Royals" continues] and you obviously can't pin everything on one song, but it feels like the turning point that explains where we are now: How we got from [images of...] Pitbull to Post Malone, [clips of Miley Cyrus's...] from "Party in the U.S.A." to [...Twenty One Pilots'...] "Stressed Out", [...and Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran & Future - "End Game"] and slowly but surely, those big godlike figures, the big names with big reputations burned themselves out. The genre still exists, but the hits are coming from people like [images of...] Charlie Puth or Camila Cabello or Dua Lipa. Y'know I like Dua Lipa a lot. I don't like Camila Cabello at all. [Clip of Camila Cabello GMA performance] But in both cases there's no star power coming off of them. They're just people who make songs.

Todd: It's my job to keep track of these people and I barely know what they look like. [clip of Zedd ft. Elley Duhe - "Happy Now"] And that's before you get into EDM where the music is made by disposable no-names working for [image of Marshmello] literally faceless producers.

Todd: But then there's Halsey. Halsey...

Clip of Halsey Ash London live performance of "Now or Never

Halsey: I don't wanna fight right now

Todd (VO): Where does she land on this? Is she just another nameless pop voice or does she have the potential to be an actual interesting persona? Could she star in her own comic book, basically?

Todd: I dunno. Maybe she's interesting enough. I mean, [the "............well that backfired" tweet again] I've thought about her in the last month more than my own loved ones! But I'm still not entirely sold on her as a headliner.

Clip of Lorde - "Green Light"

Todd (VO): And as a person who made his living off of gaudy pop songs, I should probably resent Lorde, the same way I'm sure makers of [clip of 80's music video] hairspray and spandex resented Kurt Cobain,...

Todd: ...but I don't, I like her.

Back to "Green Light"

Todd (VO): I feel like she should've gotten more reward for basically creating the current landscape, but that second album wasn't a huge seller.

Todd: Instead, various Lorde-alikes came in to fill in the gaps, including, well, you know who.

Clip of "New Americana"

Halsey: Cigarettes and...

Todd (VO): Halsey is turning out to be the main beneficiary of the "Royals" fallout. She started as a kind of Lorde-figure, she's kind of backed off from that, she stopped trying for Lorde's wisdom of youth pose.

Todd: Which is good 'cuz she sucked at it.

Halsey: High on legal marijuana

Todd (VO): Haha. Never forget.

Todd: Her lyrics are more intimate and personal now,...

Clip of "Now or Never"

Todd (VO): ...but the musical style still resembles Lorde circa 2013: the spare beat with no bass, keening voice cutting through the fog,...

Todd (VO): ...pronounces vowels weird.

Clip of Lorde live performance

Lorde: Seeooooounds

Clip of Halsey live performance

Halsey: Graaaaayyyyyyt

Todd: [imitating them] Eeeeyyyyooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuu.

Clip of "Strangers" ft. Lauren Jauregui

Todd (VO): Halsey's carved out a real space for herself, between Lorde and Lana Del Rey. Less virginal than Lorde, but not so remote as Lana.

Todd: But that's not to say it really works for me.

Clip of "Without Me"

Todd (VO): Her newest hit, "Without Me," feels like it's trying to be Halsey's big entry into bona fide celebrity-dom.

Todd: For one, it's a breakup song, and she's getting a lot of mileage out of some tabloid drama here.

Clip of Entertainment Tonight report of Halsey and G-Eazy on red carpet

Newscaster: G-Eazy and Halsey have reportedly called it quits again.

Todd: See, she was part of a serious showbiz couple for a while, with the rapper G-Eazy. She's been on and off and on again with him, seems like finally for real off now, and this is the first song she released since they split. [Clip of Halsey performing "Without Me" on SNL] And there was huge buzz off of this just last week when she did this song on SNL and the set was decorated with what I assume is supposed to be G-Eazy's confessions of cheating and so on.

Todd: Now that's a big pop star move.

Montage clips of Taylor Swift - "Blank Space"; Ariana Grande - "thank u, next" and the Halsey SNL performance

Todd (VO): Taylor Swift was able to get tons of interest singing about her various breakups, and Ariana, the one undisputable pop megastar at the moment just did the same thing. And I do like my celebrity gossips, so this should really be doing it for me.

Todd: But it's not. For one big reason: which is I don't give a fuck about G-Eazy.

Clip of G-Eazy ft. Bebe Rexha - "Me, Myself & I"

G-Eazy: And as far as I could see, I just need privacy

Todd (VO): I'm sorry, this guy is a bore and a half. I couldn't care less about a single thing he's done, as an artist or as a person.

Todd (VO): Y'know, I remember a time when white rappers were forced to earn your attention,...

Montage clips of "Me, Myself & I", Vanilla Ice - "Ice Ice Baby"; Eminem - "My Name Is"; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Wanz - "Thrift Shop"; Iggy Azalea - "Work" and G-Eazy ft. A$AP Rocky, Cardi B, French Montana, Juicy J and Belly - "No Limit" (Remix)

Todd (VO): ...to justify their existence, whether it be by being excessively simple, or especially talented, or self-deprecating or controversial, just something. But now they're normalized enough that a white rapper can get away with being completely un-noteworthy.

Todd: How far we've come.

Clip of G-Eazy ft. Kehlani - "Good Life"

Todd (VO): I can't stand him. How you gonna call yourself G-Eazy [image of...] when there's already a Jeezy?

Todd: It's like a rap name your grandma would come up with.

Clip of G-Eazy & Halsey - "Him & I"

Todd (VO): And yes, Halsey and G-Eazy were trying to become pop's next power couple.

Halsey: In the end, it's him and I

Todd (VO): Yeah, they put out this big duet, "Him & I," where they were supposed to be like this ride-or-die outlaw duo.

G-Eazy: 2017 Bonnie and Clyde.

Todd: Yeah, they weren't hiding it, [clip of...] it's an exact attempt to do what Jay-Z and Beyonce did with "Bonnie and Clyde '03"

Jay-Z: Just me 'n my girlfriend (me 'n my girlfriend)

Clip of live performance of "Him & I"

Todd (VO): And yet somehow these two did not become the next Jay and Beyonce, believe it or not. They didn't even become the next [image of...] Captain and Tennile.

Clip of "Without Me"

Halsey: You know I'm the one who put you up there"

Todd: Yes, before the breakup and after, I do think Halsey was trying to make this relationship like a major thing that's relevant to the public. Cause in this song specifically, she directly quotes from [clip of...] "Cry Me A River," one of the biggest songs of this millennium.

Justin Timberlake: You don't have to say what you did

I already know

Clip of "Without Me"

Halsey: You don't have to say just what you did

I already know

Todd: That's not a lyric you just toss in there, they had to pay Justin Timberlake to use that. So I listen to that line and I think... so, is she trying to make the two of them like [image of...] the new Justin and Britney?

Halsey: You don't have to say just what you did

Todd: No, I will be damned if I let this generation's Britney Spears be G-Eazy!

Clip of ...Baby One More Time, with G-Eazy's head pasted onto Britney's

Clip of "Without Me"

Todd: And it's a weird reference to drop for Halsey, because, y'know, she's drawn controversy in the past [screenshot of article: "Halsey Hates Being Called a Pop Star"] for claiming she resents the pop label. [Screenshot of article: "Halsey Still Sees Herself As 'Alternative' Despite Hoping For Top 40 Recognition] Because she's not pop, she's alternative.

Todd: [makes jacking off gesture and scoffs] Well that was my first reaction at least. But actually now that I think about it, there is something there. If this were 2011... [clip of LMFAO - "Party Rock Anthem"], then something like this? [Clip of Without Me] Yes, I would've absolutely called this alternative. File it with like [album art for HAIM - "Days Are Gone"] HAIM or [album art for Chvrches - "Love Is Dead"] Cvrches or those kinds of artists. She's not pulling it from nowhere.

Todd: And that's kind of the problem, really. She won't commit. [Clip of Without Me] She's in this kinda halfway point where she's neither pop or alternative. I can only speak for me, but I just don't feel like this sound has any real 'sound' to it. Not catchy enough to be pop, not edgy enough to be alternative. And that whole not-one-thing, not-the-other is not just a problem with the music, it's the lyrics.

Clip of "Without Me"

Halsey: You know I'm the one who put you up there

Todd: I mean, you listen to me, I've been blathering about 'star power', the attraction of celebrities, oooh. Songwriting counts too. [Collage of tabloid magazine covers] I don't care one bit about the love life of, [image of...] Ellie Goulding, let's say. (WHO?)

Clip of Ellie Goulding - "On My Mind"

Todd: And yet there was this wonderful moment four years ago when she was trading breakup diss tracks with [clip of studio performance of...] Ed Sheeran, and it was amazing.

Ed Sheeran: Well you didn't need to take him to bed, that's all

Clip of "On My Mind"

Ellie Goulding: I don't even really know what you intended.

Todd (VO): And it was because they were trading such intimate details, there was a real voyeuristic thrill out of it.

Todd: "Without You" [sic] doesn't have anything like that that.

Clip of "Without Me"

Halsey: So you could take advantage of me

Todd (VO): She's tried to play coy about the song, like, you know:

Todd: "It's not about G-Easy", [screenshot of Halsey Instagram post with part of text circled in red] or "Well, it is partially but it's inspired by all my breakups." [Clip of "Without Me"] Yeah, I can tell. It absolutely sounds like it's about nothing specific.

Halsey: Took it so far to keep you close

Todd (VO): I listen to this song and I feel like I don't know a single thing about Halsey. [screenshot of Todd's twitter thread with Halsey's replies] Which is just wrong seeing as we're such close friends now. [clip of Without Me SNL performance] I learned more about her breakup from her stage dressing than from the actual song.

Clip of "Without Me"

Halsey: Just running from the demons in your mind

Then I took yours and made 'em mine

Todd: Ok, yes, I do like that one lyric about having to take on his demons. That's a good bit about how you have to share trauma in a relationship and that's why it hurts so much when you break up.

Todd (VO): But it feels like it should build to something bigger. The one real barb she throws out is that she built up [image of...] G-Easy. Or excuse me, she built up this [image pixelates] nameless composite person.

Halsey: Maybe I'm the one who put you up there

Todd (VO): And now he's left her behind, acting like he's too good for her all of a sudden. Like, what a dick. I should hate this guy.

Todd: But I don't, cause there's no venom in it.

Halsey: Does it ever get lonely

Thinking you could live without me

Todd (VO): It feels like that question should have some kind of burn at the end of it, doesn't it?

Todd: Like, "You think you can live without me? No you can't, fuck you." But it just hangs there.

Todd (VO): And the song's so slow. It's the boring diss track that boring G-Easy deserves.

Todd: You know what's a good Halsey song, one I like a lot? Colors.

Clip of Halsey - "Colors"

Halsey: Everything is blue

His pills, his hands, his jeans

Todd (VO): Yeah, I really like that one. That one should have been a hit. As big as "Bad At Love". [clip of "Bad At Love"] Both those songs are full of sharp lyrical details. Those are the songs by her I actually like. And not by coincidence, they're also her most pop.

Clip of "Colors"

Halsey: And he's blue

Todd (VO): They've got real strong hooks and everything. And they blow "Without Me" out of the water.

Clip of "Without Me"

Halsey: Live without me

Todd (VO): I'm sure a lot of people are really feeling the moody vibe of this song and all the heartbreak and anguish. I'm just not hearing it. But I guess I'm alone on that one. Apparently her interpersonal drama was enough to make a number one hit.

Todd: You know, it's weird. It's a song about Halsey was used as a stepping stone and got left behind. But it feels like what's happening is the exact opposite.

Todd (VO): She's the one going up and over what's-his-face. Hopefully we never hear from him again without Halsey propping him up.

Todd: Like, I wish she'd just give up the alternative pose and just go all pop. But since this is such a big hit, she's probably gonna double down. It's her brand now.

Clip of "Without Me" SNL performance

Todd (VO): It seems like she's the one person who's figured it out. The one who's cracked the code. How to be a sexy, glamorous pop star in the zeitgeist of moody depression.

Todd: And now I realize, she was always setting herself up for this. [clip of "Now Or Never"] I joke about pop music being a grungy dystopia now, but [clip or "New Americana"] the videos for all her big hits seem like they're happening in some kind of crumbling post-appocalype. [clip or "Bad At Love"] And she ends up looking like either Katniss or Tank Girl in them.

Todd: I mean, she claims to be alternative. Maybe she is like a comic book super hero [image of "21st Century Tank Girl #3"] from an alternative comic book. One of those grungy and edgy ones that didn't age well. Well, now I guess I have my answer. She is a star. [clip of "Without Me"] Just of a movement that doesn't really interest me. Not that what I think matters to anyone. She's gonna be a real big time celebrity as long as this new age of anxiety lasts. And I'm just gonna miss the days when she had time to sit and chat with nobodies like me.

Video for "Without Me" ends

Todd: By the way, if any of you idiots tweets this link at her, you get blocked immediately. I can't stop you, but you know what, try not to be that lame, alright. No snitching, goddamnit.

Closing Tag Song: Paul & Linda McCartney - "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"


"Without Me" is owned by Capitol Records

This video is owned by me


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