"Sign of the Times"

Full disclosure, in my senior year of high school, my locker was decorated with a plethora of the best pictures of One Direction.

As my music taste has evolved with my adulthood, I’ve still hung onto the nostalgia of One Direction, and ended up a little sad when they went on hiatus.

Now that each member has introduced solo music, I’m appreciating the hiatus more. The music they put out individually has piqued my interest, as it’s all been a little bit more adult, showing each member’s true songwriting skills.

Harry Styles, the eccentric youngest member of One Direction, released his debut solo single last week called “Sign of the Times,” and it rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard and iTunes charts. The single broke Adele’s record for fastest single to rise to No. 1, taking just under 19 minutes.

Styles’ single is a far cry from anything he released with One Direction. “Sign of the Times” channels ‘70s and ‘80s rock-pop. Styles uses influence from idols such as Bowie and the arena-rock legends of the time. Many believe the haunting tune stems from the deep and scarring loss of Styles’ friend, photographer Matt Irwin, to suicide last year.

Regardless of what the song is about, this tune is a six-minute rocker that begins with a soft, slow piano introduction and sultry lyrics. As the song builds to the chorus, Styles kicks in with more vocal range than he ever showed as a part of One Direction. Overall, the tune is a monster hit, and I have been obsessing over it since the release.

However, that’s not where Styles stopped with his return to music. Along with the release of his first single, Styles is set to appear as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on April 15 in the show’s first coast-to-coast simulcast in 42 seasons. Just this week, Styles released the track listing and cover art for his self-titled solo album, due out May 12. The artwork pictures Styles in a milky pink bath, surrounded by floating flower petals. While this may not be exciting for some people, I was head over heels in love with the song titles, the album artwork and the idea of finally having a reflection of one of my favorite artists that he worked to create.

If one thing is for certain, it’s that coming into the second half of 2017, Harry Styles will be here and ready to take on the criticism that comes with being an ex-boyband member. Following former band members Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson will be tough, but seeing the response that “Sign of the Times” has gotten, I am sure that Styles will be no stranger to positive press.

No matter your preferred style of music, I encourage you to take a listen to “Sign of the Times.” I’m waiting in anticipation for the rest of the album to drop, and if this single is any sign of what’s to come, I believe all music lovers should be waiting with baited breath.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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