For the past two weeks the media has obsessed over which direction One Direction’s Harry Styles would take with his solo material. With the hugely successful 1D on a hiatus each of them has ventured out into the world alone like a parade of wobbly ducklings but there’s only one of them that people are really interested in. Harry Styles is back! Back! BACK!! as Smash Hits would put it if they were still around. They’d have a nickname for him too, probably Hazza. Anyway the song has dropped today and its called `Sign of the Times`. Such is the white heat of attention it’s mere name has caused the media to ask former associates of Prince whether they thought he’d have minded. I’m not sure anybody asked The Belle Stars if they minded when Prince came out with his song did they?
|Someone fell asleep and left the bath running..|
As it turns out, Hazza’s `Sign of the Times` is even more over the top than `Purple Rain`. It’s a big flowery piano ballad that builds into a gigantic choir backed epic. It’s five minutes and 41 seconds long! The lyrics are enigmatic talking of escaping bullets and how he has to get away. Could it be that of all people he becomes a credible pop star (as opposed to just a successful one). This is unexpected.
There’s been talk of influences from the likes of David Bowie and Queen but when you hear the song the first names that spring to mind are classic Robbie Williams stuff and something of a Lana Del Ray influence too. It’s a bit slow and probably too versey for less attentive audiences but it is liable to remind older listeners of the past, specifically the 70s. There is scant regard for anything else around at the moment, an admirable aspect to be sure. Instead the song mines late 70s power ballads.
As for the words is the lyric trying to tell us just to enjoy ourselves? Or maybe not to get too wound up by what’s going on? “Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times” he declares repeatedly. There’s a hint that it could be an end of the world scenario. No promo film yet which might put the words into more context.
The most surprising thing though is the strong vocal which ranges from raspy to falsetto to all out emotional at the end as he declares “we’ve got to get away”. Anyway here’s the audio if you’ve not heard it, put your preconceptions to one side and see what you think.