Harry Styles’ Sign of the Times: Unexpected but impressive

I’m not usually one to do a music review but I think Harry Styles‘ debut single Sign of the Times warrants discussion! It was released today after weeks of hype so I really feared it was going to be crap. He faced a lot of expectation and while he hasn’t received resounding praise, he won me over. Let me explain why.

Sign of the Times is vastly different to what everyone was expecting, to what his One Direction bandmates have produced and what most mainstream musicians are releasing right now. Everything at the moment is a form of dance track so it’s refreshing to hear something different from such a young star. I never expected him to go fully pop, he always had a rockier edge (especially in the way he dressed!) but I did prepare myself for a singer/songwriter man-with-guitar vibe like Ed Sheeran, Tom Oddell or James Bay. I am SO glad he didn’t go that route because we have enough of that on the charts already!

The ballad also feels old-fashioned, which was unexpected. It is reminiscent of David Bowie, Queen or Prince. I personally didn’t love all their music, I find some of their ballads rather slow and boring (which some people have said about Harry’s) but I’m more sold on this because I’m intrigued by this lyrics and I love his voice. He sounds AMAZING!

The chorus is fine, but for me, the song excels in the pre-chorus, with these lyrics: “If we never learn, we been here before/Why are we always stuck and running from/ A bullet? The bullets.” His voice is glorious in those parts! He sounds so different to how he did in One Direction,

I wasn’t impressed by the 5 minutes and 40 second run time. That is such a long song and I don’t generally have concentration beyond 3 minutes or so but it didn’t feel as long as that. It’s a brave and bold move, again setting it apart from the norm and harking back to the grand guitar epics of the past, but I would have been happy if it had ended just after the four minutes mark.

It’s only one song so you can’t judge how his solo career is going to go but he’s done a solid job establishing himself away from pop and his One Direction roots – I swear his voice even sounds different to his 1D vocals. This doesn’t sound much like anything else out right now and young stars don’t really make them like this any more so I give him props for being bold and different because he could have so easily gone down the pop route to please his existing fanbase. The debut offering isn’t as strong as Zayn Malik‘s Pillowtalk but it’s unexpected and interesting and I am impressed.

Check out the song if you haven’t already:

 

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