Frequently described as a girl-power anthem, Halsey's "Nightmare" references a scenario that's bound to ring the bell for most women. The chorus revolves around strangers approaching on the street to demand a smile.
As Halsey told radio show host Elvis Duran in 2019, the experience resembles a double-edged sword. Either one chooses to comply or risks being perceived as a troublesome person. The Nightmare Challenge on TikTok revisits the hit song.
The Nightmare Challenge on TikTok puts award-winningly annoying scenarios into the spotlight.
The Nightmare Challenge on TikTok invites social media users to imagine scenarios that could make anyone go right up the wall. Using "Nightmare" as the soundtrack, the short clips capture real or imagined experiences like getting ripped off by friends, being manipulated by relatives, or getting bullied.
Co-written by Halsey, Nathan Perez, Benjamin Levin, Elena Kiper, Magnus Høiberg, and many others, "Nightmare" takes a new look at the idea of complacency. Take the chorus, which revisits those encounters with strangers who have an inexplicable knack for getting a close-up of one's pearly whites.
"'Come on, little lady, give us a smile,'" goes the chorus. "'No, I ain't got nothin' to smile about, I got no one to smile for, I waited a while for a moment to say I don't owe you a goddamn thing.'"
The TikTok clips posted in response to the Nightmare Challenge explore the frustration experienced because someone stepped over the line. Most of the videos are fictive, though some appear to draw on lived events.
"#POV: You are at a family photo shoot, and you got in a fight with your stepmom who treats you poorly the night before," a TikToker named camryn (@truly.cam) captioned her clip. Wearing a dazzling red shirt, the TikToker chalked up a scenario featuring a disagreeable stepmother.
A TikToker named @anna dreamed up a clip capturing her jaw-dropping transformation. In the first part of the clip, she dons a green shirt with a matching penchant. In the second half, she wears a black wig, heavy eye makeup, and matching black lipstick.
"POV: Your parents are taking photos of you before prom, but you're not happy with your outfit," reads her caption.
"POV: the new girl you're bullying turns out to be Medusa's daughter, then turns you to stone," a TikTok user named @makeuppbydeliah captioned a clip uploaded on Aug. 23, 2020.
For the clip, the influencer created an elaborate look complete with an opaque white contact lens, maud, heavily overlined lips, and an emerald green, almost lizard-skin-like trompe-l'œil situation happening over her left eye.
"#POV: You are my manager, and you tried to sexually harass me before my photo shoot, and you keep telling me to smile, and I finally snap," a TikTok user named emers (@emmadmalone) captioned a TikTok clip uploaded on Jan. 16, 2020.
Shot in a dimly lit room, the TikTok zooms in on emers's face.