By James Mercadante
Harry Styles has already proven himself to be the antithesis of today’s pop artist, composing songs that emulate similar styles to The Beatles and Joni Mitchell. Yet, he maintains his own individual sound, now unveiling even more layers to him artistically and personally with a new anthem.
Styles released the single, “Lights Up,” on Oct. 11, from his anticipated sophomore album. Without fully disclosing anything, the artist still ignited conversation among spectators due to the timing and content of his lyrics and visuals.
Preceding the song’s release, billboards emerged across the world with the question “Do You Know Who You Are?” and fans were quick to notice the Columbia Records logo and his trademarked acronym “TPWK,” which stands for “Treat People With Kindness.”
Shortly afterward, Styles released the meandering, psychedelic track that possessed a layered synthesizer, acoustic guitar, heavy bass, drums and a subtle choir that encircles his raspy vocals.
The song is strange at first hearing, but it’s undeniably sexy and surreal. It’s an amalgam of rock, soft-pop and gospel, transporting listeners to some sort of unusual church service.
But as he takes you to church, he makes you “step into the light” and manifests his sheer godliness that you can’t help but praise.
Styles’ lyrics render a self-revelation, especially with the separation from the micro-managed boyband and the freedom he is now able to fully explore.
“All the lights couldn’t put out the dark/ Runnin’ through my heart,” Styles croons under blended effects, “Lights up and they know who you are…/ Do you know who you are?”
He continues, saying he’s “stepping into the light” and he’s “never going back,” subtly revealing to audiences that he is still in the process of self-discovery, yet he will not be returning to the person he was made out to be during his time with One Direction.
The music video accompanying “Lights Up” suggests that these lyrics may pertain to his sexuality.
Styles definitely makes it a point to keep his romantic life private. Although, in 2017, he told The Sun that he doesn’t feel compelled to label his sexuality.
“No, I’ve never felt the need to really…I don’t feel like it’s something I’ve ever felt like I have to explain about myself,” he said.
However, the visuals he presents may be corroborating rumors about his sexuality, especially since he conveniently released the music video on National Coming Out Day.
The video is set completely in the dark, with bursts of red and green lights illuminating Styles’ bare skin. Styles is seen encompassed by naked people, erotically touching each other and emulating a free-for-all orgy.
While he is glistening in sweat and mouthing his lyrics, he is enjoying the sexual encounters between both girls and boys, which demonstrates his sexual fluidity.
Whether or not Styles is hinting at his sexual orientation, it does not take away from the fact that he has created a timeless song that is brutally honest — even without saying a damn thing.