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Harry Styles “As It Was”: Fan Theory Breakdown

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

harry is keeping his fans on their toes this year

Harry Styles has been sending his fans through a whirlwind with his Love On Tour, the two upcoming movies he’s co-starring in, Pleasing, headlining Coachella, and now new music!

His newest single “As It Was” has given the world a glimpse into his upcoming album, Harry’s House, which will be released on Friday, May 20th. Problem is, that’s almost a month away. So, in typical Harry fan fashion, it’s time to start dissecting the song and video to pass the time. Twitter and Tik Tok have already had a head start…

If you’re unfamiliar with the Harry Styles fandom, here’s what you should know. They’re professional investigators, Harry said so himself in an interview with SiriusXM. The entire fandom suspected new music from Harry very shortly after the end of his tour, and they predicted right. But it wasn’t what they thought it was going to be.

something’s different about “as it was”

The majority of the Harry fandom had the same reaction of dropped jaws and wide eyes when “As It Was” was released. It’s unlike anything he’s ever done.

It’s no secret that Harry uses heavy imagery, symbolism, and easter eggs in his songs and music videos. But, there’s something different about this one. Looking at some of Harry’s discography (as seen below), Harry even uses imagery in the titles of his songs. Making them almost evocative. “Golden,” “Kiwi,” “Watermelon Sugar”… you create a picture in your mind when you read these song titles. In the lyrics especially, he uses imagery to paint a picture.

If you’ve seen his music video “Adore You“, you will see he has a fish for a companion throughout the music video. The creation of Eroda island, Harry’s fish friend, and letting the fish go in the end. It all means something, but you can’t really tell what. He never explicitly divulges the true meaning of it all.

What’s different about his new song? The song title alone is completely different. “As It Was” really doesn’t offer any imagery. Unlike Harry’s singles “Sign of the Times,” and “Watermelon Sugar,” “As It Was” is a very personal song. It’s more honest, it gives you meaning, and tells a story. It infers that things aren’t what they used to be, they’ve changed.

When asked to speak on the meaning behind the song, Harry responded saying, “It’s about embracing change, and losing oneself, finding oneself, shifting perspectives. A lot of different things.”

When you watch the video and listen to the lyrics, his response resonates because the song could be interpreted in so many different ways. Although we will more likely than not, never know the true meaning behind Harry’s music. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to.

So, why are fans freaking out?

The mysterious man in black

Harry is including more hidden messages now than he ever has. One that fans picked up on almost immidiently, was that there is a man in all black hiding everywhere.

In the very beginning of the “As It Was” music video, there’s a man in all black hiding behind a girl walking on the right of the screen. In the picture Harry posted announcing “As It Was,” there’s a man in all black, hiding in the right corner, holding up the wall panel. And, in the video he posted to promote his upcoming album, Harrys House, there’s a figure hiding at the very back of the theater.

Fans are speculating that the mysterious figure is either Louis Tomlinson, Harry’s dad, his old self, or… Chris Trepidation. It’s probably the last one…

Architectural themes

With Harry’s album being called Harrys House, and with the multiple themes of architecture and design included in everything, it’s easy to assume it will have a lot to do with the deeper meaning in his new music.

One of the most blatant examples of a classic Harry Styles Easter egg can be seen when Harry and his dance partner are laying on their backs on that giant piece of art and metal rods are placed on top of their limbs.

This is a reference to Charles and Ray Eames who are responsible for the design of the Eames lounge chair. If you’re an interior designer, you would recognize this as one of the most iconic American designs in history.

We can also draw ideas of deeper meaning from the brutalist style, Barbican Centre in London where they filmed the majority of the video.

As well as, the penguin pool in the London zoo where he, and 4 other people undressed. This is the same place where penguins Ronnie and Reggie were celebrated as an LGBT couple! In front of the pool, they displayed a flag that read, “some penguins are gay, get over it.”

Harrys marketing team is on their A game

Harry has chosen a pretty “unconventional” way of marketing his upcoming album. Going as far as to create an entirely new internet persona.

You Are Home, the title of the domains his marketing team has created has been giving hints about his music and essentially freaking out all of his fans. The You Are Home Twitter account tweets something out daily, the website keeps updating what is hiding behind the You Are home door, updating the discord, having listening parties, ec tetra.

These domains don’t specifically advertise they are related to Harry. But they obviously are, they even made stickers of Harry to use in the discord chats. Fans have had a lot of fun with the door and the ominous tweets; but what is the purpose of it all?

There is also a Twitter account that popped up called VisitEvol. If you remember Harry’s music video for “Adore You,” his marketing team created the island Eroda with the Twitter account VisitEroda. They’re doing the same thing they did with Eroda island… could it be a continuation of the story of the peculiar boy?

tHEORY ONE: Everything is backward

The end sequence

With this theory, Harry starts off very flamboyant and happy. He then closes the gate, which could symbolize him entering the music industry. He then enters onto the spinning wheel, the journey of life. Slowly discovering that he is a puppet, and tries to escape.

Body of the video

Harry finds someone that is as colorful as him (the loud, red, and blue matching sets). The two of them are strongly separated by the industry, and can only truly be themselves when they’re alone. Before parting ways, the two have one last touch.

Beginning sequence

In this part of the video, Harry is actually walking backward (for the purpose of this theory he is walking forwards). He’s surrounded by bland people, who aren’t as colorful as himself. At the”end” of the video, he is trapped behind glass. This could be meaning that we are almost seeing who he really is, he’s so close to being free.

Also, at the very end of the song, we hear Harry say “HEY,” and sounds that could be interpreted as a doorbell ringing which could infer that the video is in fact reversed. Could the ringing be a doorway to Harry’s House

This theory puts focus on Harry’s life starting in the music industry, feeling trapped, and controlled, and finally, finding a way to step out into the world as the person he truly is.

What do you think?

Theory two: Past and present

First verse

This theory that fans have come up with basically is just a description of Harry’s life. At the beginning of the video, we hear a very sweet clip of Ruby Winston, Harry’s god-daughter, saying,

“Come on, Harry, we wanna say goodnight to you.”

With the introduction being a Child’s voice, fans have gathered that the first part of the video, and first verse are about Harry’s childhood and his first years of fame.

“Holdin me back, gravity’s holding me back”

This line could be a reference to how the One Direction management held him back from being himself. Not only that but because of his fame, being in the spotlight held him back from true autheticity.

“I want you to hold out the palm of your hand, why don’t we leave it at that”

This line could be highlighting his relationship with his near, but distant father.

Second verse

The second verse has been theorized as a depiction of the biggest year of One Direction, as well as his familial relationship. Harry’s parents divorced, and his mom remarried during this time, and we can see some of his emotions from that experience in these lyrics. A huge theme in a lot of these theories revolves around Harry’s relationship with his birth father and recalling his parents divorce.

“Answer the phone
“Harry, you’re no good alone
Why are you sitting at home on the floor?
What kind of pills are you on?”
Ringin’ the bell
And nobody’s coming to help
Your daddy lives by himself
He just wants to know that you’re well, oh-oh-oh”

Fans were almost speechless when they first heard this verse because it’s the most open and honest he’s been in his music before. He even uses his own name in the lyrics, inferring that this song is only about him. Whereas most of his songs are usually written about someone else.

Bridge

According to this theory, the bridge would be about his present life and relationship with Olivia Wilde. This part of the theory conflicts a large chunk of the fandom because of the doubt most have over Harry and Olivia’s relationship.

“Leave America, two kids follower her, I don’t wanna talk about who’s doing it first.”

Olivia has two kids and did in fact leave America to spend time with Harry in London. The celebrities’ relationships began on the set of Don’t Worry Darling and fans suspect the relationship could be a PR stunt to hopefully gain more traction for the movie.

Considering its directed by Olivia, and the lead roles are Florence Pugh and Harry, there isn’t a lot of extra traction the film will need. Either way, the bridge would signify his present because he is talking in the present tense.

In the second part of that line, this theory circles back to his parent’s divorce. Olivia Wilde is divorced with two kids which is the same dynamic as Harry’s family. He could be saying he doesn’t want to talk about who is doing it first, making the first move, because he is scared it will affect her children the same way it affected him.

Overall this theory is simply about Harry’s life and coming to terms with it. After the COVID pandemic, celebrities like him had a big wake-up call to reality. They had a chance to evaluate their personal lives. This is exactly what this song could be.

thEORY three: Red pill, blue pill, matrix theory (fan favorite)

The vibrant red and blue one-of-a-kind Gucci jumpsuits sparked the Matrix theory on Twitter. The thread above is where it started. Fans have taken the seemingly obvious hint as a link to the red and blue pill ultimatum in the Matrix movie.

Another tie to the Matrix movie is that it was released on March 31, 1999. Why does this matter? Because Harry released ‘As It Was’ on March 31, 2022.

The woman in blue is the blue pill of contented ignorance and he can’t escape her. She represents his past life and hiding from the truth to avoid the unknown of his future. It could be referencing his years in One Direction when his life wasn’t in his own control.

Harry in red is the red pill which is the truth, good or bad. Harry said in an interview that COVID gave him a chance to work out his past, and this could represent that change that he made to realize the truth about himself.

At the end of the music video, you can see he is finally happy, free, and able to finally express himself the way he wants without anyone else controlling him. Unlike every other part of the video where the screen is occupied by other people, he is alone at the end and happier for it.

so why should You care?

Harry is always the center of the screen. He stands out, he’s colorful. He’s dancing, he’s naked. He speaks in 3rd person and refers to himself by name which he has never done. This song is all about himself, and how he has changed. He’s finally the center point of his art. He’s not the same as he was, he’s not his past. He’s not his daddy, he is not his pills, he’s not his bandmates, he’s not his partner. He’s not the same person anymore. Now that he has realized it, he’s letting us see how much brighter and happier he is.

Whether fans got it right with these theories or not, it’s obvious that Harry feels happy and free. Music management is known for being inhumanely controlling and Harry is no stranger to that experience. The One Directions boys have all spoken on the intense, fast-paced nature of their life on the road together. Liam Payne even said in an intimate interview with Steven Bartlett that if they continued any longer, it would have killed him.

Fans are more than anything, just happy that he has finally found that feeling of freedom. Whatever experiences and emotions caused Harry to write this song, it’s no doubt about change and accepting oneself, as he has said.

Harry’s message to his fans.

“I think if it wasn’t for the love that i’ve felt from them over the last few years, I don’t think I’d be able to be in a place that allows me to make this music with the kind of feeling of freedom. And I very much get that from the support that they’ve shown me. In so many ways this album is by you and obviously for you as well. Just a massive amount of love to you all, thank you.”

This is Heart Interview

What we can expect from Harrys House

Authenticity. We can expect a very honest change in his music that is personal and tells a story rather than paints a picture.

Harry’s headline performance at Coachella Friday 15th, 2022, left fans completely stunned as he performed two brand new songs. “Boyfriends” and “Late Night Talk”, both follow this theme of authenticity and telling a story. While they don’t feel as personal as “As It Was,” the authenticity in the songs is very apparent.

If this emotional rollercoaster Harry has had his fans on is any indication of what Harry’s House will be like, it’s no doubt that it will be his best work yet.

Hey, my name is Abigail LaCombe. I'm a third-year college student at GCU studying professional writing for new media, with a minor in advertising, and graphic design. I really enjoy writing on pop culture topics, specifically music and movies. They're both things that have defined so many aspects of my life and I think it's important to talk about. I hope you enjoy my articles:)
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