REVIEW: Harry Styles’ new song proves he’s still the same As It Was

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.

In conclusion:

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

Iona Wagg

Hi! I’m Iona and I have a lot to say, on many topics. I’m currently a ‘panic’ Master's student, focussing on Media, Culture, and Society (because let’s face it, I didn’t particularly want to graduate into this current economic climate with a media degree). I have a deep interest in photography, film, and television (as hopefully my current dissertation suggests), as well as an interest in politics, history, news, technology, arts, and literature – of which I hold a lot of opinions on, and will hopefully share here. I’ve been studying media since I was 14 years old when I made a panic switch to Media in Year 9 when I realised that Drama really wasn’t my thing (my best performance was obviously my role of ‘Head Fly’ in Dick Whittington in Year 3 – of which I was demoted down to just regular ‘Fly’ for no apparent reason). Since then, I’ve gone on to do a lot of work within this field, both academic as well as voluntary, in order to build my CV, as well as my expertise. I’ve worked on all sorts of stuff, from assisting my old village’s political committee how to make a website (which was, unsurprisingly, excruciating) to working with young kids, helping them format their academic work and being a teaching assistant, and my personal favourite, photographing pensioners doing Ballroom dancing (bless them). But within all of these ventures I have undertaken over the last 7 years, I have never found an opportunity to share my opinion on random pop culture (as well as my love for Dana Scully) so this is my intention to do so here. All this being said, I hope you enjoy what you read from me, and I look forward to sharing my views, and various streams of consciousness with you all.

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