Track Review: Sign of the Times by Harry Styles
There’s been a lot of hype about this former boy-band member starting his solo career. So few have actually succeeded in a solo career after finding fame in this way (the exception perhaps being Robbie Williams). But with all the excitement from former 1D fans and the impressive producers he had in his corner, there was hope for the young popstar to deliver something refreshing and new to establish himself as an artist in his own right.
Unfortunately, the tracks released, ‘Sign of the Times’ and ‘Ever Since New York’, didn’t really deliver. Styles has failed to move away from the soppy romantic drivel that so characterised his boy band career and the new tracks unfortunately just sound essentially like everything else you’ll have heard in the top 40 this year. His lyrics include the lines ‘You look pretty good down here, but you ain’t really good’. It’s not much more artistic than ‘you don’t know you’re beautiful, that’s what makes you beautiful’.
Maybe it’s just the music snob in me, but I basically found them boring. Styles’ voice is perfectly good and the lyrics aren’t offensively bad. It just all seems a bit unadventurous for someone who already has such a wide fan base. I don’t really see why he had to release such bland catch-all pop songs, when his legions of die-hard fans basically guaranteed him commercial success. I seriously thought he might try to do something interesting with this opportunity, but he didn’t. Don’t even get me started on those who have claimed that this is a movement towards rock. You can’t just hand him a guitar and claim that he’s Alex Turner now.
Many have compared these tracks to those released by Zayne Malik, his former bandmate. Zayne seems to have done better in this respect. Although he obviously remained firmly within the pop genre, he did a pretty good job of reinventing himself, releasing some mature, sexy club-anthems. He made a clear move away from his previous material and, whether you like his new stuff or not, it definitely sounds like a new artist. This is precisely what styles has failed to do. If he wants to be respected as a solo artist, he needs to find some new, less-cheesy lyrics, pick a genre and try to sound different to a classic former-boy-band-member trying to make it on his own whilst basically just doing exactly what he did in the band.