OPINION: Harry Styles has debuted his first solo single on American late night television. I presume he did that so as fewer people in the UK as possible heard it because on a scale of 1 to a potential Ricky Gervais parody this has all the makings of a David Brent B-side.
The song is called Sign of the Times. I also presume Styles knows that is the name of a Prince song because he seems fluent in ripping off other, more talented singers.
Wearing a hipster-approved tartan suit, floppy hair greased to within an inch of its post-boy band life, Styles looked the part on the Saturday Night Live stage.
There’s no doubt he can walk the walk when it comes to being a rock and roll heartthrob but Styles needs to learn to talk the talk too. Or more specifically he needs to learn to write meaningful and profound and poetic lyrics that can capture the zeitgeist of the world he lives in while also transcending time.
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For example, there is Prince’s Sign o’ the Times: Sister killed her baby ‘cuz she couldn’t afford to feed it / And we’re sending people to the moon / In September my cousin tried reefer for the very first time / Now he’s doing horse, it’s June.
And there’s Harry Styles’ Sign of the Times: Stop your crying baby it’s a sign of the times / We got to get away from here.
But maybe I am focusing too much on the actual lyrics. Because there’s all sorts of talking going on about Styles being the next Bowie. And that makes Styles himself fair game.
I don’t know where to begin when it comes to answering the question of whether or not Harry Styles is the next David Bowie other than to gently point out that BOWIE WAS AN ARTISTIC, MUSICAL, CREATIVE GENIUS who wrote some of the greatest songs of the past two centuries and Harry Styles is a kid who managed not to p… Simon Cowell off and was therefore shoved into a socially engineered boy band and given a pop song to record.
For his part Styles says the song is about a dying mother spending her final five minutes on Earth offering life advice to her newborn infant. No really, that’s what he told Rolling Stone magazine the song is about.
Now, I don’t know much about Harry’s life, to be fair, but I am pretty sure he has never actually been a mother who has died in childbirth. Nor did his own mother die in childbirth. But I am sure, Live’s Lightning Crashes-style, he dug deep into his reservoir of emotions for this one.
The actual song is a fair effort. Harry’s got a nice voice and can hold a note and it’s refreshing to hear him sing something that sounds bit more grown up than his usual One Direction fodder.
But to me it sounded a little bit like that song from the original Karate Kid movie, Glory of Love by Peter Cetera (“I am the man who will fight for your honour…”). And that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The worst thing about all of this is it’s glaringly obvious that everyone loves Harry Styles and this song will be a gigantic hit and will be covered by about a billion One Direction wannabes when the next round of X Factor auditions start up.
Harry himself is going to make bags and bags of money and probably win a Grammy and I will still be sitting in my padded cell, listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and wondering where all the good music has gone.
Actually, I do know where all the good music has gone. It was buried with David Bowie and Prince because we will never see the likes of them ever again and in years to come my three little boys will be teenagers wearing ironic vintage Harry Styles t-shirts and when I put on my Prince CD they will roll their eyes and say “Oh my GOD I can’t believe someone covered that Harry Styles song”.
What at time to be alive.