Since July 2018, the end of his first solo tour, Harry Styles has been very quiet. His social media pages became inactive and he wasn’t releasing any new music. Then, surprising fans around the world, on Oct. 11 Harry Styles released his second album's lead single , “Lights Up” and its accompanying music video. Harry Styles has managed to propel his comeback just as swiftly as he kicked off his solo career.
The release of his first solo single, “Sign of the Times,” back in April 2017 was an ambitious statement song at nearly six minutes long. Styles, one of the biggest stars from Gen Z's most popular boy band, One Direction, shocked listeners by releasing music that feels like a revival of British glam rock.
His latest single, “Lights Up,” is also a statement piece, but for very different reasons. While “Sign of the Times” was long, dramatic, and rock–inspired, “Lights Up” is uniquely short, synth–y, and much less over–the–top. Simple lyrics are layered over top a small back–up choir and piano notes. Its simplicity and brevity is what makes the track so interesting. For a lead single, it leaves the listener waiting and anticipating what's to come next from the artist.
The video for “Lights Up” features the solo artist shirtless being caressed by a crowd of men and women with intermittent scenes of him riding on the back of a motorcycle. Each dreamy yet fleeting scene is eye–catching. Captured in this short video is a feeling of complete freedom and self–expression.
As the lyrics, “Lights up and they know who you are/know who you are/do you know who you are” play, the camera zooms in to the singer as he wades in the water wearing a sequined jacket . it then cuts to the next scene where he’s now fully immersed, floating in the waves. With these lines and scenes, Harry Styles seems to be in the process of losing and finding himself. Drowning into the crowd and into the water, he becomes anonymous, but in the last scene of the video we finally see the lights go up and the artist’s smiling face is clearly exposed.
While enigmatic the video shows that Harry Styles is ready to express himself in his upcoming music. There’s a softness and soul to his new single that’s refreshing from this former pop boy–band member. It’s hard to know exactly where he’ll go next, but it’s clear that he’s ready to be completely unrestrained. This song and music video prove that Harry Styles is a rock star at heart who isn't afraid to defy conventions and be a free spirit.