The world is not the same as it was: Harry Styles enters new era of music

Alyssa Schubert, Contributing Writer

Gone are the days of suspenders and sunflowers for Harry Styles. On April 1, Styles released his new single, “As It Was,” accompanied by a unique music video.

“As It Was” is the lead single and fourth track on his third studio album, “Harry’s House,” which is set for release Friday, May 20.

Styles took to social media to release the album cover: a picture of a contemplative Styles standing in an upside-down living room. He released an album preview video later that day.

Styles, once a member of the British boy band One Direction, began his solo career with the release of his debut single, “Sign of the Times.” He followed that up with a self-titled album in 2017. In 2019, he released his sophomore album, “Fine Line,” which was nominated for three Grammys, including Pop Vocal Performance of the Year, which he received for his single “Watermelon Sugar.”

The Grammy Award-winning artist has been known to tease fans with cryptic messages on social media, going as far to create an entire fictional island to promote his 2019 single “Adore You.” This time around, Styles and his team created a Twitter account with the username “You Are Home,” where they post speculated lyrics to the new track list.

A website called “You Are Home” also appeared, where mystery images hidden behind partially opened doors have been uploaded daily. Some photos allude to the album cover, while others match with the quotes from the Twitter page. For example, one Tweet reads, “I think you should wear the feathers,” while a boa Styles wore during one of his shows peeks out from behind the door.

Posters featuring the words “As It Was” appeared overnight in the biggest cities across the world, such as Paris and Chicago. Styles’ faithful fans, also known as “Harries,” quickly discovered their favorite Brit was behind it and braced themselves for new content for the first time in almost three years.

On March 28, Styles posted a picture of himself sporting a sparkly red tracksuit for the announcement of his new song. A small clip on Harry Styles Headquarters’ TikTok and Instagram showed Styles spinning around on what appeared to be a vinyl record while a vintage beat played in the background.

The song begins with a voicemail from Styles’ goddaughter, Ruby, saying, “Come on, Harry! We want to say good night to you!” From there, Styles is seen wearing a red trench coat with a black boa, walking backward in a room full of people. He breaks into a space with a spinning platform at its center, where he ditches his coat for a sparkly tracksuit.

The video is centered on Styles and a woman dressed in blue as his opposite. Throughout the video, the two are repeatedly separated by obstacles, from never being able to walk the same way to their hands being disconnected by moving panels. Irony prevails in the end, with the lyrics saying, “In this world, it’s just us,” while the two are never able to fully be with one another.

One scene highlights Styles’ vulnerability and openness, as he strips down to just a pair of red shorts while a group of people watch him. A vibrant background appears while he and the woman lie on their backs holding hands as chairs are set up around them. The image references designers Charles and Ray Eames’ 1947 photograph “Pinned.”

The record-breaking pop star told the radio station Audacy that this type of music has been a long time coming for him.

“It just felt like the thing I wanted to say, the thing I wanted to be doing, and the kind of music I wanted to make coming back,” Styles said.

At the end of the video, Styles is alone, smiling and dancing to the final round of the chorus. While the singer’s natural eye color is green, he flashes blue eyes in the video. Although it was never confirmed by Styles or any involved in the project, the shade matches that of the outfit worn by Styles’ companion, emulating the idea of his inner femininity.

“The song is about metamorphosis,” Styles explained. “It’s about embracing change and former self, perspective shift and all that kind of stuff. After everything that has happened, the sentiment of ‘It’s not the same as it was’ felt pretty perfect.”

The music ends before the video does, panning to a shot of Styles looking in the camera with a radiant smile. The video ends with Styles in a running position in the air, suggesting that this journey is just beginning.

The single broke Spotify’s record of the most streamed song within 24 hours with 21.1 million streams, surpassing his highly decorated “Watermelon Sugar.” “As It Was” debuted at No. 2 in the United States, becoming the quickest in Styles’s discography to do so.

A new era of Harry Styles music has arrived, promising to not be the same as it was.

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