Harry Styles marked his solo debut in the most ambitious way possible, with a near-six-minute power ballad that calls upon the likes of David Bowie and Queen for a type of rock grandeur rarely heard in 2017. The soaring vocals and symphonic production make clear Styles has left his boy band days of pure pop in the past — he’s traded up (and has the designer suits to show for it). Though he revealed the song was inspired by a mother dying from childbirth, “Sign of the Times” couldn’t have come at a more opportune time: It transcends any one situation or viewpoint with its use of an ambiguous “we,” and refrains from being too much of a downer with its gentle nudge to “remember everything will be alright.” And when Styles sings the deeply affecting refrain, “Just stop your crying/It's a sign of the times,” he only makes you want to bawl harder — even if you don’t quite know over what. -- L.H.
And here's Harry's monologue and opening on the Late Late Show
“I mean it’s just so good! I’m so mad about it because everyone else from the band is doing really well in the US, but I think what he did wasn’t necessarily radio friendly, and it was just so brave and so cool. He’s playing the long game, and he should. That album is so good. It’s a combination of Robbie Williams, Jeff Buckley, Elton John, Ryan Adams – all these artists that are so great. I loved One Direction - I wrote a song for one of their albums – but damn! – he made spectacular album.”
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