There comes a time in every musical group's story where the members decide to spread their wings and fly solo. From Justin Timberlake to Beyoncé, debut singles can be make or break for a singer with a devoted fanbase. Solo careers set the tone for a new era and reintroduce a singer as an independently creative artist. This time has come for former One Directioner Harry Styles, whose song "Sign of the Times" dropped on Friday, April 7. But what exactly is this new tune about?
The song begins with Styles singing, "Just stop your crying/ it's a sign of the times/ welcome to the final show/ hope you're wearing your best clothes." Surely the word "final" makes 1D fans pause at the notion of a possible permanent end of their favorite British boy band. However, if the song is about the band, it sounds as if he's telling fans not to worry as he moves on to the next artistic phase of his life. Besides, they'll always have the music, right?
After debuting the song on BBC Radio 1, the British media company came up with a theory about the song. BBC suggests it's about the end of something, but offers hope: "We could meet again somewhere, somewhere far away from here," Styles sings.
The 23-year-old told Radio 1 "Sign of the Times" is the song he's "most proud of writing." "It's a bit weird," Styles told Radio 1's Nick Grimshaw. "I feel like I've been hibernating for so long...and now it's time to give birth." Perhaps meeting "far away from here" means that Styles and the 1D boys will reunite in the future much like *NSYNC did at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2013?
The Telegraph offers a more specific hypothesis that Styles is singing about the end of One Direction: "Styles isn't saying hello to his new solo career yet, he's still bidding farewell to a youth and young manhood spent in Simon Cowell's clutches.
The pop boy band was formed on the show The X Factor in 2010 and signed to Cowell's Syco Records until going on hiatus in January 2016. Billboard reported Styles signed with Columbia Records in June 2016.
While Styles could very well be bidding adieu to 1D, he may also be lamenting the end of a personal relationship as opposed to a professional one. "We never learn, we been here before/ why are we always stuck and running from/ the bullets?" Relationships can go 'round and 'round before someone finds the courage to step away. Maybe it was Styles time to leave someone he loved and grow up?
USA Today calls "Sign of the Times" a sign of Styles' evolution from pop star to rock powerhouse: "The rock ballad's drum-heaving chorus, seemingly calling for a metamorphosis, allows the 23-year-old Dunkirk actor to showcase his powerful vocals."
With all of these ideas floating in the air and a vagueness in the lyrics that lends itself to many topics, perhaps it's best that you be the judge of what "Sign of the Times" is all about. The five-minute jam is available on Spotify, Apple, and YouTube, according to BBC. You'll have to wait another week to see Styles perform it live on Saturday Night Live on April 15 with host Jimmy Fallon.