Harry Styles was always the one in One Direction, wasn’t he? The one who looked like he had more to give the world than just synchronised dance moves, interesting haircuts and gossip mag worthy liasons with other singers who also had interesting haircuts. Harry is the one you want to go to the pub with. The one you want to talk about your feelings with. The one you want to stand in front of tatty segments of old gothic churches at the Victoria & Albert Museum and discuss spirituality and our place in the universe with. In a world full of chic popstars who look like they might have bullied you at school, Harry is the one who seems like he’d have been everyone’s mate.
It was with great eagerness then that I awaited the debut solo song to come from the lips of this pop prince amongst men. Zayn Malik might have been the first One Direction-er to break away from the band, but it was Harry’s single that I was way more interested in hearing. Rumours of his ‘rock’n’roll’ sound have been circulating for months, with such legendary names as David Bowie and Queen being uttered alongside the tousled 23-year-old’s. So, does ‘Sign Of The Times’ match the hype? Is this a tune befitting of the former boy bander’s affable, actually-not-a-d**k public persona? Well, if you were expecting pansexual space-pop or stadium-straddling face melters, then Harry’s not quite there yet.
But that’s no bad thing. The tune is more Robbie Williams meets Rod Stewart, but damn, name two more successful British male chart pop stars and I’ll eat my original cassette single of ‘Angels’. There are shades of other artists usually found on Top Gear compilations owned by your four-times married uncle here too, a Marks & Spencers’ leather-jacket wearing mélange of Paul Weller, Oasis, Elton John and Stereophonics. Even so, our soft spot for Harry remains. It’s rousing tune. A put your lighters in the air tune. a ‘Seriously guys, can you even remember the names of the other guys in One Direction’ tune. If this is just the starting point, then we can’t wait to hear where Harry goes next. But even if he goes the full Clarkson, which we seriously doubt, we’re not joking about hitting up some museums and having a few deep and meaningful chats. Call us, maybe, Harry – the National Gallery is delightful this time of year.