Harry Styles’ new song is unexpected

Heartthrob Harry Styles released his debut solo song on Friday, and it’s certainly different from the girly pop music we’re used to hearing from his days in One Direction.

Dedicated fans have waited for the singer’s return to the music industry after One Direction separated last year. “Sign of the Times” is a piano rock ballad with abstract lyrics and heartfelt vocals that have been compared to David Bowie by numerous critics. It may be most similar to Bowie’s “Life on Mars.”

Many Bowie fans and classic rock enthusiasts are offended at this comparison, especially since Styles became famous from a British boy band well-loved by hormone-filled teenage girls. Styles’ biggest challenge to being taken seriously as a solo artist is going to be separating himself from his past and former other band members like Zayn Malik. However, the crazed Directioners, or One Direction fans, are comparable to The Beatles’ Beatlemaniacs, and look at the legacy the Fab Four left behind.

Fans predicted that Styles would have the most successful solo career, similar to Beyoncé after Destiny’s Child or Justin Timberlake after NSYNC. All of this praise and attention is quickly proving this point. Ex-member and bad boy Zayn has had a fairly successful career so far, after releasing his album “Mind of Mine” last year and singles like “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” with Taylor Swift. However, his sexy R&B vocals may not leave as large of a mark as Styles.

Not only has “Sign of the Times” reminded people of icons like Queen, Oasis and Elton John, but it has received a lot of praise from other musicians.

Styles’ new music has gotten approval from gifted songwriter and musician Ed Sheeran, and it is projected to break “Shape of You’s” 13-week hold at No. 1 on Billboard and Twitter’s Trending 140 Chart.

The song itself is quite long, almost six minutes of three chords accompanied by an electric guitar and drums. It’s repetitive and almost too long, but it’s already gotten a lot of attention and love. The lyrics are almost cryptic, and the cover art is mysterious, embracing an apocalyptic world. The song opens with, “Just stop your crying, it’s the sign of the times / Welcome to the final show” hinting at what may seem to be the end of something. That “something” that he is alluding to is what fans are trying to figure out. Whatever it is, it’s got a romantic and powerfully emotional effect.

It is unclear if Styles is planning on staying within rock as a genre, but “Sign of the Times” pulls on heartstrings just like many timeless classics do. The song, despite its length and simplicity, was well thought out, poetically written and now the world is waiting for Styles’ next move.

Christine Chung is a senior communication and rhetorical studies major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. She can be reached at


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