Written by L, feminist; aspiring artist; creator; Spotify Premium enthusiast.
If you don’t know who Harry Styles is, you might be living under a rock. His first appearance on Saturday Night Live as a solo artist premiered this past Saturday, April 15. He performed his first single ‘Sign of the Times’ as well as a new highly-anticipated song ‘Ever Since New York’, both off his first self-titled album, outlined to debut May 12.
For the past six years, the most beloved boy band, One Direction, stole the hearts of girls and boys across the globe. With his charming smile, eclectic taste in fashion, and a deep and raspy voice, it’s no wonder the world is entranced by Harry Styles’ allure.
Fans have anticipated solo material since it was revealed months ago that Styles had been writing music. Three weeks ago, no one — not even his biggest fans — had any inkling that his solo material would be brandished into the world so soon. Within a week’s time, fans were quickly thrust into a frenzied storm when he posted some mysterious photos on Instagram, changed his avi on all his social media platforms, and tweeted his single cover with the title and release date. On April 7, 2017, Harry Styles dropped ‘Sign of the Times’.
‘Sign of the Times’ is a perfect synthesis of rock history. Harry Styles has, in short, exceeded all expectations. As the first notes of the piano filled my dorm room, I automatically thought of ‘If I Could Fly’, a song off One Direction’s last album ‘Made In The A.M.’. But as it progressed, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the rock music I grew up listening to: David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ album, the slow-body swaying nature of a classic Beatles’ ballad, and even early Coldplay came to mind.
It’s not that there’s a striking resemblance like there was in ‘Best Song Ever’ to The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’, or that this is a tribute to the Greats. Rather, it’s as if he’s spent extensive time studying and learning from the Greats and has created music that could be listened to alongside them.
Everyone should give Styles a chance. ‘Sign of the Times’ can be seen as a timeless classic that anyone who’s a fan of rock music can listen to and enjoy. The tune certainly proves his artistic differences from One Direction, and although I would say the song is a little too long, and the lyrics leave more to be desired, the crescendos towards the end of the song climax and retreat as well as a classic Pixies song.
Styles definitely proved himself through this ballad. His distinct vocal styling was often overlooked, as he was seen only as the “heartthrob” in One Direction with his glossy hair and heartwarming smile. As an impressive baritone, his husky lower register and strong vocal drive is clearly evident and can’t be missed in this single. His strong vibrato would be bone-chilling to hear live, and his persona could fill an arena. Harry Styles has nothing short of greatness to bring to the music industry as a solo artist.
This almost six-minute song is nothing like the sugary-pop music One Direction pushed out for five consecutive years. Some Directioners might be disappointed, but are we really surprised? A strong influence of classic rock has been popping up since the ‘Midnight Memories’ era, from his fashion sense that began to evolve during the ‘Where We Are’ tour to his co-authorship of ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’ off 1D’s fourth album ‘Four’.
What really drives the single home is how appealing to a mass audience didn’t seem to be the goal for Styles. This single, and hopefully the album too, was tailored to the sound that he wants to create. Although he grew up in the pop scene and certainly mastered the industry, if it wasn’t obvious from his choice of audition song from the ‘X Factor’ of ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ by Stevie Wonder, it was never meant for him. The psychedelic rock/70’s pop sound he has created with ‘Sign of the Times’ is authentically him. As a massive rock fan and dedicated 1D stan, I cannot wait to see what Styles has in store for the world.
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