On April 1st, Harry Styles rang in a new era with his new single, As It Was.
Styles, who has two previous critically acclaimed albums – Harry Styles (2017) and Fine Line (2019) – maintains a stellar track record with his new single, which is set to be a sure-fire commercial success.
Ahead of the hugely-anticipated third album, Harry’s House, this uncharacteristically upbeat lead single (think Sign of the Times and Lights Up), intertwines cautiously vulnerable lyrics with a Fleetwood Mac-inspired backing. As It Was is a refreshing throwback to days before – a trend frequently seen bleeding into other areas of culture, such as fashion.
But these connections between Fleetwood Mac and Styles are long-established: from his publicised friendship with Stevie Nicks to the most recent campaign for his company, Pleasing, which used Mick Fleetwood for the promotion of their new collection, Shroom Bloom.
By combining these styles and notable figures within the industry, Styles sets himself apart from his contemporaries with ease – bringing his own identity and charm to the pop sphere.
As It Was is a breath of fresh air; with soft-rock, synth-pop melodies that certify it as an upcoming summer hit. These rock-esque inspirations have been littered throughout Styles’ discography, so to see this 70s influence take centre stage for his new album is both expected and welcomed.
Anything that Styles achieves in his career, without a doubt, gains worldwide media attention and this remains consistent with his latest release. Yet, the lyrics in his first release since the pandemic show vulnerability, through explicit references to personal circumstance, on a level not previously seen in his music.
In the hours following the single’s release, heated discussions soon ensued on social media to discuss who – or what – the song references throughout. A key discussion point can be seen in the second verse:
Answer the phone
“Harry, you’re no good alone
Why are you sitting at home on the floor?
What kind of pills are you on?”
Ringin’ the bell
And nobody’s coming to help
Your daddy lives by himself
He just wants to know that you’re well
Many suggest that this may be a reference to Styles’ relationship with actor Olivia Wilde – following her separation from long-term partner, Jason Sudeikis. However, Styles has not commented on this and, to be honest, I like that. Let’s just leave the music to speak for itself, and leave the interpretation to the listener.
As well as this, Styles also launched this new era with a music video for As It Was, and maintains aesthetics and striking visuals that are akin to his career thus far.
This new song brings me joy and excitement for the rest of the album, and I really hope that Harry follows suit with the rest of the album as anticipated.
Harry Styles’ new album, Harry’s House comes out on May 20th.
Iona Wagg is a MA Media, Culture & Society student, and a Media & Communications graduate interested in film, television, music, and the arts. You can find her her on LinkedIn or over on Twitter: ionawagg