Before this gets any further, let me make the point that I really wanted Zayn Malik to be a hit solo artist-wise. He came out of a radio friendly, guff-heavy mainstream band and, at least initially, made all the right moves and shakes towards somebody who could hold their head high as a talented urban musician. Not unlike the mould Justin Timberlake has set for himself in the time since his departure from N-Sync. Let’s not forget, also, that Pillowtalk was a banger.
After a wholly disappointing album, Zayn Malik was last seen doing songs with Taylor Swift for the (astonishingly awful) 50 Shades movie series. Hardly screams as being the dictionary definition for “dignified”, does it?
Harry Styles solo debut has been markedly more low-key. No spats on social media, no headline grabbing change of hairstyles, if anything I could imagine those leaning of the more hardcore side of the 1D ‘fandom’ scale finding Styles’ silence rather deafening.
With Sign Of The Times, we can now understand that it will be the music doing the talking for Styles’ further career. This is without doubt the single best vocally performed piece of music a winner of the X Factor lottery wheel there has ever been. By a mile. By two miles.
There have been early connections to elements of David Bowies’ work, and while these are both strong and somewhat correct conclusions to draw, the first thing that struck me on my initial listen through was how reminiscent this was of a Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd performance. This could easily sit as a B-side or bonus track on that album had they performed and released this in 2017.
Whether this song as a whole is a measure of Harry Styles’ talents as an individual artist or merely the production and songwriting team he has surrounded himself with will pique my interest once the eventual album credits are released, but just purely as a music romantic I do really hope it’s the former.
If this is a sign of things to come, and not another Pillowtalk/one-season wonder, we may just have one of the best emerging British artists in the last 10 years on our hands.
It’s a well done from me.