You've waited, you've watched, you've hoped, you've dreamed, and the day is finally here. The title and artwork for Harry Styles' upcoming single have been released. The singer revealed both through a post to his Twitter on Friday, announcing that the single is called "Sign of the Times" and will be released April 7. This came under an image of the album art, which appears to feature Styles himself, sitting in water and facing away from the camera. It's a lot to get hyped up about. So, with all this excited energy built up, why not direct it somewhere productive — like toward predicting what this song is going to be like in advance of its actual release date?
We'll use the information he provided to try to glean clues from, starting with the title of the single. "Sign of the Times" suggests to me a more mature, broodier sound, perhaps informed by the state of the world around him. Styles spends a lot of time in two places that are in flux politically — the United States and Great Britain — so I wouldn't be surprised to see that uncertainty and maybe even fear reflected in the single.
It's a theory that's certainly built up by the album art; Styles sits in a red-tinged pool and under a red-smeared sky, back to the camera, showing up only in silhouette. In the murky shallows, his ghost-like hands glimmer through, looking like sea creatures beneath the surface. The image itself is static, but the red and black color palette and the detached quality of his hands beneath the water suggest an eerie calm, as if before or after violence.
SIGN.OF.THE.TIMES // 7.APRIL.17 // pic.twitter.com/W6ij1giOdX— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) March 31, 2017
It's not the kind of image I'd expect to see from a young singer who was going to stick to his boy band roots and keep churning out pop hits. This is the album art for someone who's trying to drive home that he's going in a more serious direction, to prepare his fans.
That said, the vibe of "Sign of the Times" likely won't actually be quite as dark as this photo suggests. Styles is already set to perform it on the April 15 episode of Saturday Night Live, on which he'll serve as the musical guest, so you know it's still going to have a catchy beat that you can't get out of your head.
At the end of the day, I do have to admit that I'm surprised by this title and by this image. Or, I guess I shouldn't say "surprised"... more like intrigued. This seems to be a completely different approach for Harry Styles, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.