Friday, April 7, 2017


By: Connor Glowacki

Image result for harry styles sign of the timesIt has arrived...

     Harry Styles might be the fourth member of U.K. boyband One Direction to release his debut solo music, but he was always the one I was looking forward to hearing the most.
     Styles' raspy voice had lent itself to rock music during One Direction's heyday and it became apparent once he started taking more of the lead vocals and the group's projects gravitated toward a stadium-rock sound.
     Combine that with the fact that he was considered the 'star' of One Direction and the intense building buzz for his debut album, this was the member to watch for.

     But several of his fellow band-members found solo success before Styles.

     Zayn's debut single 'Pillowtalk' debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and his R&B-inspired debut album 'Mind Of Mine' was fairly well-acclaimed by critics.
(Although his newly released song, 'Still Got Time', for his upcoming second solo album shows him unfortunately chasing trends and trying to sound like Drake).
     Niall Horan had a top-20 and Platinum hit song in 'This Town' and Louis Tomlinson released an EDM banger with DJ Steve Aoki called 'Just Hold On' that reached No. 52 on the Hot 100.

     However, it appears there's no indication that anyone forgot about Harry Styles as his debut single 'Sign Of The Times' is ranked No. 1 on iTunes in over 70 countries worldwide.

     But is 'Sign Of The Times' a good song?

     It's good and, dare I say, maybe even great.

Image result for harry styles
Styles delivered on the songwriting
and vocals for 'Sign Of The Times.'
Photo by
     To be fair, I gravitate toward rock music, but this song channels sixties and seventies rock with a message that's as urgent as ever, especially with the United States launching missiles into a Syrian airfield April 6 in order to condemn Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's use of chemical warfare on his own citizens.
     These are dark times around the world and 'Sign Of The Times' presents a looming uncertainty and tension in its sound and in its lyrics.

     I love the buildup of the song which starts with simple piano chords and then builds to clean, crushing guitars and eventually a swell of sounds that build to a beautiful climax before fading back into the background with a haunting piano outro.
     Musically, you can hear influences of David Bowie, Queen, Pink Floyd and The Beatles. But 'Sign Of The Times' doesn't feel like a caricature of that classic British rock sound.

     There are lyrical moments here where Styles references leaving the atmosphere and trying to get away from a current situation. Parts of the lyrics could definitely be about wanting to recapture love and holding on to a relationship, but there are subtle overtones of political nature that makes this song feel so valid and so important in 2017.
     And Styles delivers a heck of a vocal performance, ranging from a hushed falsetto in the early choruses up until some great high notes toward the end of the track. He sounds confident and sure of himself.


Image result for david bowie
'Sign Of The Times' has garnered
comparisons to work of the late David Bowie.
Photo courtesy of Esquire.
     It's way too early for people to be comparing Styles to Bowie, especially with Styles being a former boybander. But he was the singer in a local rock band before he auditioned for 'The X Factor' and appears to have been grounded in the history of rock music.
     And if Styles can continue to put together songs that brings very slight pop sensibilities to this classic rock sound, it is going to do wonders for bringing guitars and rock music back to pop radio.
     And to top it all off, 'Sign Of The Times' is almost SIX MINUTES LONG, which is unheard of today in pop music.
     Styles has the clout in popularity to pull off a move like this for his debut single and I'm legitimately excited for what he has in store with his debut album. Rumors have swirled that he has worked with everyone from Snow Patrol to Bruno Mars to to Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kledis.

     Styles' 'Sign Of The Times' already makes him the most relevant member of One Direction in 2017. It proves you don't have to follow the 'Justin Timberlake' route by following a R&B pop path once you leave a boyband. (Looking at you Zayn!)

'Sign Of The Times' is a great rock power ballad that hits the nerve and showcases a classic sound that somehow feels current and relevant this year.

RATING: **** (4 Out Of 5)

We may disagree, but this could be what rock needs right now in popular music. Did you or did you not like Harry Styles' debut single 'Sign Of The Times?'

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below or on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.