Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Harry Styles gives us the first look inside the walls of Harry’s House.
“Harry, you’re no good alone.”
Artistically, that’s something we know isn’t true. It’s been years now since Harry Styles struck out on his own, re-inventing his public persona through vintage aesthetics and the devil-may-care creativity of a present-day rockstar. His art, both in his self-titled solo debut and the Grammy-winning Fine Line, has always pivoted between the achingly personal and intentionally coy. It might be easy to speculate about the subjects of his songs, but there’s still a thin veil between Styles and the public.
Personally, that line — “Harry, you’re no good alone” — might mean something quite different.
“As It Was” is the latest offering from the global superstar, the first cut off his upcoming album Harry’s House (due May 20th). Here, Harry seems fixated on the passage of time, the inevitability of change, and the stifling repercussions that come along with periods of transition. There’s a motif in his music around avoidance, whether it be in “Meet Me in the Hallway” (“We don’t talk about it, it’s something we don’t do”) or “Sign of the Times” (“We don’t talk enough”).
“I don’t wanna talk about the way that it was,” he sings on “As It Was.” Things have already changed too much in his narration — what’s the point of combing over history? Naturally, this dialogue is disguised in a vibrant, synth-heavy song that makes the listener want to bounce down the street with wired headphones and a walkman or stick their head out of the sun roof. It feels heavily inspired by a-ha’s classic “Take On Me” — it’s even in the same key.
In the accompanying music video, though, there’s no black-and-white journey through the world of animation. Directed by Tanu Muino, the visual sees a sequined Styles moving through whimsical set pieces and working through choreography opposite a similarly-clad dancer. He’s giving us acting, and it’s a reminder that Styles — impromptu talk show host, beloved visitor at SNL, burgeoning movie star, and Grammy-winning soloist — is the kind of quadruple-threat showman that feels so rare in the current entertainment landscape.
None of it is the same as it was — but we don’t have to talk about it, or dwell on it. Let’s just dance.
— Mary Siroky