Harry Styles Returns with Steamy Single "Lights Up"

In 2017, Harry Styles graced the music world with his eponymous solo debut album. The album was a stylistic music shift from his previous work – from teen, radio-tailored pop songs to slow-paced, emotional ballads infused with rock elements. Styles showed his strength, range, and depth as a solo artist with his record.

Now, the former One Direction boy-bander has released his first new song in over two years. The first single from his upcoming and untitled sophomore album, "Lights Up", was released along with a steamy new music video on October 10, 2019.

“Lights Up” is a departure from Styles's classic rock inspired debut album. The new single is more laid-back – featuring a blown-out bass line, contemporary melody, and acoustic instrumentation. The song also has dreamy qualities with its synth-pop ambiance, smooth vocals, and psychedelic drum beats that are comparable to Tame Impala’s.

The accompanying music video adds layers of sensuality and mystery to this psychedelic song – alternating between different light and dark visual elements. The video is simple, but contains complex themes as well. In some shots, Styles appears to be euphoric but disoriented in a crowd of men and women dancing with him. In others, he floats face first in a body of water, wades in the ocean in a sparkly blouse and bell bottoms, and rides on the back of a motorcycle – these scenes glow with a red tint.

Styles teased the release of the single with his return to social media, posting an image of himself in a pale blue, Elton John inspired outfit. He continued promoting the single through a series of posters with the words, “DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?” that popped up in major cities around the world – words that later became recognizable as lyrics in “Lights Up.” His promotion included a website dedicated to spreading positive messages from Styles to fans, and encouraging people to treat others with kindness. Fans, myself included, waited in eager anticipation for the new single, and were surprised with the music video.

The “Lights Up” release quickly took over the internet by becoming the number one trending topic on Twitter, ascending to the number one spot on the billboard music chart and YouTube.

“Lights Up” has marked the beginning a new era for Styles with a transition back into the pop genre. In contrast, the leading single from Harry Styles, “Sign of the Times”, was a soft rock, piano ballad that combined influences from ‘70s rock artists such as David Bowie, Queen, and the Rolling Stones – the rest of the record shared similar tones and influences.

In his Rolling Stone profile story published in August, Styles spoke about the upcoming album. He is putting the finishing touches on it and said it's full of “the toughest, most soulful songs" he’s ever written. Styles described the vibe of the record as “all about sex and feeling sad.”

No release date has been given for the new album, or information on the next single release. However, if Styles follows his previous pattern, the record may be released before the New Year.

“Lights Up” is available for listening on the major streaming platforms.

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