Harry Styles announced a few weeks ago that his new album, Harry’s House, is coming on May 20th. As Anastasia wrote at that time, all the clues were leading up to a Harry upside down, a fitting reflection of what life is for us now, after over two years of pandemic, and all of us trying to figure out what anything even is anymore, knowing that it can never be “the same as it was”.
We now have the first song and video off the album, “As It Was”, released late yesterday and the energy is indeed melancholy. I LOVED this track from the first ten seconds, SO MUCH. Part of that is the 80s sound to it, this is very much where I live. And, of course, the other part is mood. This is a wistful song, it’s lonely and blue, but at the same time, it makes you want to move. Because it’s also a dance song? A sad dance song?
That likely has to do with the sample - a-ha’s “Take On Me”, also a sad song with a dance beat, right? That’s the 80s feel that Harry’s evoking here, very effectively. There’s a Simple Minds, “Don’t You Forget About Me” thing happening here, too.
And since it’s also a love song, there’s gossip. In theory this album was written and produced during Harry’s relationship with Olivia Wilde. There’s a child’s voice to kick off the song. Everyone’s CSI-ing the lyrics now.
â€œLeave America, two kids, follow her.â€ The wedding bells? The kids in the beginning of As It Was? The upside down home album cover? Harry got the TEA, this has Olivia Wildeâ€™s name written all over it. pic.twitter.com/CvCNrYzm7f— kristen (not stewart) says its not camp, its ugly! (@lordesbbqribs) March 31, 2022
It’s not like Harry’s never done this before. So many of the songs on Fine Line were about his lovers and since Olivia is his most seriously public relationship ever, why wouldn’t their love be a factor in his songwriting? Or, for that matter, in any artist’s songwriting? I don’t know that this is news.
What’s more interesting is Harry’s evolution from his first self-titled album to this point. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Harry Styles, the album. “Sign of the Times” didn’t do it for me the way it did for a lot of other people. It was Fine Line that really got me going – a solid album but an album that also had a lot of promise. You got the sense that he was building to more. And Harry’s House, it would seem, is the MORE.
I’m basing this off of “As It Was” only, but that’s the power of a lead single and the tone it can set for what’s coming. What’s coming, according to Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone, is “astounding”, as he calls “As It Was”…
“…the first taste from his astounding new Harry’s House, which is even better than you hope it is.”
Well, now I’m ready for Harry Styles on repeat. “As It Was” has already been on repeat for me all night and morning. You know another thing I love about it? It’s short. Under three minutes. A song like this doesn’t need to go on and on. And it fits with the theme – what was, as it was, will never feel like it was long enough.