Halsey's "Ya'aburnee" Is Based on This Arabic Phrase

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Aug. 31 2021, Published 8:55 p.m. ET

Pop star Halsey's newest studio album, "If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power" was released on all streaming services on Aug. 27. It's been dubbed "their best work yet" by Pitchfork and received much praise, despite no singles being released in the lead up to its launch.

The 13-track album closes with a song titled "Ya'aburnee," an Arabic phrase. But what does "ya'aburnee" mean? It has a significant cultural heartfelt meaning that ties the album together — but has received mixed feelings from listeners.

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What does "ya'aburnee" mean?

Ya'aburnee is actually a term used in Arabic, which means "you bury me." It's often used to tell another that they hope to die first, as living without the other person would be too much to bear. The language also has a feminine version, "ta'aburnee," which means the same thing.

While many of Halsey's fans have thought the song to be a beautiful closer to their album, some of their Arab listeners have mixed feelings about their using the term for a song title.

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Many have pointed out that while the song is bringing a significant and heartfelt Arabic term to a mainstream album, Halsey is not personally of Arab descent.

"OK so I know it’s pretty sweet Halsey named [their] song ya’aburnee and I’m all for seeing Arabic everywhere, but as someone whose language has always been seen as a threat by the west, I'd really like to see it not be used as a token by non-Arab authors just bc it’s 'cool' now," one Twitter user said.

Source: Twitter
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Halsey's new album, "If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power," is about "the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth."

Halsey has been open since announcing their fourth studio that the focus of the work is on their journey through pregnancy. "Ya'aburnee" as a closing song is meant to be an ode to their child, saying they hope they pass before Ender does. Since Ender is a boy, Halsey uses the masculine form of the phrase instead of the feminine. They sing the lyrics "you will bury me / before I bury you."

“This album is a concept album about the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth,” Halsey wrote in an Instagram caption. “It was very important to me that the cover art conveyed the sentiment of my journey over the past few months. The dichotomy of the Madonna and the Whore. The idea that me as a sexual being and my body as a vessel and gift to my child are two concepts that can co-exist peacefully and powerfully."

“My body has belonged to the world in many different ways the past few years, and this image is my means of reclaiming my autonomy and establishing my pride and strength as a life force for my human being," they continued. "This cover image celebrates pregnant and postpartum bodies as something beautiful, to be admired. We have a long way to go with eradicating the social stigma around bodies & breastfeeding. I hope this can be a step in the right direction!”

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