Do you know who you are?
Harry Styles begins a new era with this big, existential question – plastered across billboards in various major cities, accompanied by Styles’ now signature slogan ‘TPWK’ (Treat People With Kindness), he asks his fans to look deep inside of themselves.
But what’s his answer to the question?
It comes in the form of new single ‘Lights Up’ – a more soulful offering than anything on 2017’s self-titled debut. It is a surprise, but too airy and delightful a listening experience to be jarring. The ideas and feelings pouring out are different too – whereas Harry Styles was concerned with silence, absences, and miscommunication between people, ‘Lights Up’ is rooted in self-knowledge and acceptance.
The music video sees Harry spread his arms wide, singing “never coming back down” – a sign that he is free, releasing himself from that which only he needs to fully understand. “I could, but wouldn’t stay” he sings, driving forward on a motorcycle but facing backwards. There is an appreciation for and understanding of that which he leaves behind, but a recognition that it no longer serves him, and he must go towards something new.
The video then becomes, in part, the physical embodiment of the infamous line from Harry’s unreleased song, ‘Medicine’ – “the boys and the girls are in, I mess around with them, and I’m okay with it”. He mouths “beautiful”, looking at all the people (of all different genders) that surround him before he steps directly into the middle of them – steps “into the light”. He reiterates the earlier sentiment, singing “I’m not ever going back”, throughout the song and becomes more and more immersed in that community. He dances with them, touches them (and vice versa), laughs with them – he becomes part of them.
The message is clear to those who are listening – but most importantly, it seems clear to Harry himself. He asks himself “do you know who you are?” – but he’s already laid out the answer.