Step into the light of great new music – Harry Styles is back with a new single, Lights Up, and it’s the song we never knew we needed.

An anthem about self-acceptance and stepping into the light, Harry Styles discusses his own identity and not going back to who he was before. This caused quite the rift on Twitter and other social media since its release on 11 October, where some fans believe it’s about his coming out.

However, the lyrics could stretch further than that.

Styles started out as part of the band One Direction in 2010, so it’s not a secret that he’s always been in the limelight and he grew up while millions watched.

He was labelled the womaniser of the group, and, as with most male musicians in the modern music industry, was pushed into a conventionally masculine role to appeal to fans. This heavily influenced his musical style and fashion.

The lyric “lights up and they know who you are” reflects this constant scrutiny in the spotlight – but here’s the thing. Despite all of this spotlight and fame, and years of people telling him who he was and what he should be like.

Styles then asks: “Do you know who you are?”, and that’s the heart of the song.

Whether its fame, sexuality, or just daily life, there’s always going to be people deciding who you are. But, the main thing is that you know who you are as an individual – and that’s something you have to decide and discover for yourself.

Musically, the song breaks out of the tradition of four chord pop music, again showing how Lights Up, in all ways possible, breaks out of the box and refuses to listen to convention.

 

Credits: Youtube, Harry Styles

Since becoming a solo artist, Styles has been able to go beyond a typical boyband artist, and growing as an individual, which the song perfectly encapsulates. Even in his style, he is unique, and combines conventional masculinity and femininity in his outfits.

The first few lines are “I’m sorry by the way, never coming back down” – he’s being himself. Although he’s sorry for not conforming to what the industry wants him to be, he’s being who he truly is at last, and he’s comfortable with it.

The music video features a shot of Styles floating above himself, suggesting a detachment from his previous self who he was forced into. The water’s theme can be linked to the aesthetic of his first album where he’s photographed in pink water with flowers around him, and the new music video shows him lying in pink water.

When tying this in with the suggested themes of self-acceptance, the imagery of water could symbolise him drowning expectations of how we should all be. However, the lighting becomes bolder and flashes in shots, showing a revelation and greater control over himself.

Styles is shown to be shirtless in a crowd of people and sitting on the back of a motorbike throughout the video; these convey vulnerability but also pride of self as he laughs and moves through the crowd – he is happy.

Even if he’s vulnerable he’s learning to be comfortable with it.

 

Credits: Youtube, Harry Styles

The repeated symbolism of lights in both the video and lyrics is suggestive of enlightenment and an almost heavenly state of self-acceptance. The journey to truly be yourself, especially in the limelight and critical media atmosphere is never easy.

Styles himself states he”‘could but wouldn’t stay”, as even if it’s harder, you should always strive to be the best version of who you truly are.

From the lyrics to the colour schemes, it’s clear to see that this second release of music is much bolder and more unapologetic- this new Harry Styles is here to stay, and we love it.

Yasmin Jafar
BA Journalism

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