A month and a half after the Rolling Stone profile that killed us all, Harry Styles has released new music. The first single from the coming sophomore album, “Lights Up,” comes after a few days of eerie questions: a tweet that simply said “Do;” billboards that popped up in Sydney, New York, and Los Angeles which said “Do You Know Who You Are?” on the 9th (which, probably related side note, is apparently the last words John Lennon heard before he died, and October 9 was his birthday); a website by the same title, which gives you a nice message when you put your name in; a few tweets and Instagram stories, officially connecting the pieces together. And finally, at 11pm on Thursday, the first of three photos were posted on @harrystyles Instagram—the sign we’d all been waiting for.
“Lights Up” came at 12am on Friday, October 11, 2019, and heaven’s pearly gates parted. It’s a dramatically different sound from the first album, from the melodramatic rock ballad that was “Sign of the Times,” but it feels like as much of a release for Harry as it does for all of the fans (letting out the breath we absolutely knew we were holding).
It’s a religious, gospel experience; turning the lights on, accepting who we are, and refusing to step back into the darkness. It’s the obvious next step from the profile that lauded magic mushrooms and getting naked in the Pacific ocean. The music video pushes this rhetoric even further: Harry Styles in a sea of writhing, beautiful people; sparkly suits with shiny cross necklaces front and center; virginal white shirts, blowing in the wind; baptismal floating in a pool.
There’s not much more one could ask for from a first single, save for the rest of the album. But that, too, will probably drop with little warning or explanation, only to blow our minds. Let’s just hope I actually have money in my bank account to buy the concert tickets. In the meantime, do you know who you are?