Way back in 2013, in a little indie documentary called One Direction: This Is Us, it was clear to almost everyone that Harry Styles was over this shit. The cheeky chappy who won our hearts over with his wide grin and lust for life on The X Factor was no more.
Modelling himself on a young Mick Jagger, his shirts started to button a little lower and the rims on his hats became a little wider. He was not a pop act anymore, his collection of ironic rosary beads around his neck screamed. He’s ready to be taken seriously.
Styles announced on March 30th (coincidentally the 30th anniversary of Prince's album Sign o' the Times) that he would be releasing his new single Sign of the Times. And today it lands.
With every One Direction solo single, we learn a little bit about the men behind the music. With Zayn Malik's Pillowtalk, we discovered that he likes to have a lot of sex. With Niall Horan's My Town, we discovered that he likes his guitar but loves Mullingar. With Harry Styles, we learn that he is done with the fame circus, while remaining very, very famous.
Just like Katy Perry, or Wokey Perry as we call her now, he is feeling the pain of the world and he needs to sing about it. In a bid to display this pain, his strained vocals swerve from gravelly to Bee Gee pitch. Emotions? Oh, he's got them all.
The video for Sign of the Times is yet to be released so we cannot comment on the status of his shirt buttons, but the single artwork finds him sitting in a pool of water. He's soaking it all in. Or perhaps it's a nod to his role in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. Either way, we've got a pop star in water and he's about to make a splash.
"Just stop your crying, it's a sign of the times / Welcome to the final show / I hope you're wearing your best clothes", goes this piano ballad, and while it's no What Makes You Beautiful (simpler times), this is the debut single that Malik and Horan wish they could have released.