Harry Styles’ ‘Sign of the Times’ & The Virtue of Patience

Harry Styles’ ‘Sign of the Times’ & The Virtue of Patience

Harry Styles’ ‘Sign of the Times’ & The Virtue of Patience

Fans waited more than a year to get a solo single from leading One Direction – and the wait was worth it.

It never made sense that the Harry Styles debut single was released in April 2017.

Not because there is anything wrong in this particular month – it has been a surprisingly long time. It’s been more than two years since Zayn Malik followed a solo career and made One Direction no longer whole. It’s been almost 17 months since 1D released their last album, Made In The A.M., before bidding farewell to an indefinite hiatus. And it’s been a lot longer than any of those time periods since Styles established himself as a potential superstar residing within the boys band structure, ready to jump on pop culture once he deigned that it was time to Go solo.

How long have we known that Harry Edward Styles had the voice, stage presence and charisma to become a star? Have not we waited half a decade-from the first time you’ve seen that strand of hair and the smile beneath-for this moment to come?

With “Sign of the Times”, Styles explains more or less the reason for the wait. This is one of the most ambitious opening statements in pop this decade, a ostentatious stab and essentially without verse in something immediate and timeless. My colleague Andrew Unterberger has already broken everything that “Sign of the Times” is – defiantly rock, proudly bombastic and incredibly British included. One thing that is not, however, is poorly cooked, which is perhaps its most important feature of all.

Imagine for a second that you are Harry Styles, and that is the end of 2015. One Direction has just released their fifth album (and first since it became a quartet), and does not spin behind it. His former teammate, Zayn, has sparked an unusual solo debut after leaving One Direction in March. Your peers have expressed an interest in bringing out solo projects, but you know that the focus is on your next step, as the 1D member with (certainly, but sorta obviously) the highest profile and the most recognition of first name. They just spent five years in the biggest pop group of the year 2010, and the world is starving for its next step.

Harry Styles’ ‘Sign of the Times’ & The Virtue of Patience

Imagine how many styles of supply you must have refused to perform, collaborate and hasten your solo career in existence. Imagine the discipline you must have taken to wait so long to drop a finished first single, without disturbing any new music to the millions of directors who eagerly await your arrival and who constantly send you text messages on social networks. At the time of the release of One Direction’s final album, Styles was 21, and could have jumped the gun to become a rock star with the support of most labels or managers. To wait until this moment to get this right, Styles had to be uncompromising.

And that’s what “Sign of the Times” is: resolute, determined, fully committed to their messaging and sound, radio trends are condemned. Although it carries its influences in its sleeve (RIP, David Bowie), nothing of this single inclines towards the expectations of another person. “Sign of the Times” sounds effortless, but arriving without any incomplete features is an achievement in a music industry where pop artists are expected to produce new music at an unsustainable pace and double at least in part to everything The world is doing is still original, of course). Cast on the fact that Styles was a huge name before releasing a piece of solo music, and the patience and attention to detail of “Sign of the Times” is a quite remarkable feat.

“Sign of the Times” will be a success? Who knows, but that’s something like that. Styles has dropped a bona fide piece of art that took months to complete, and did so on his own terms. It is a subtle victory for him and his audience. Harry took his time, and did well.

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