It’s safe to say that 2017 is turning out to be one of the most exciting years in pop music. New albums from Ed Sheeran and Lorde will undoubtedly come down to the wire for top sales, while world tours by Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Sheeran are already on target for breaking records.
Now the highly anticipated debut of One Direction’s Harry Styles is less than a month away, with the lead single “Sign of the Times” wowing critics and expanding the singer’s fan base far beyond his loyal Directioners.
This weekend marked the first live performance of the soaring theatrical single, with Styles returning to the Saturday Night Live stage solo for the first time to reintroduce himself as Harry Styles, the singer who’s all grown up.
Flanked by a full band instead of his fellow boy banders, Styles undoubtedly caused a spike in the sales of plaid suits thanks to his chic and GQ-inspired look. First performing his lead single “Sign of the Times,” Styles confirmed that the vocals in the track were not courtesy of record studio editing software, but from a maturation of his voice that has grown stronger and more impressive in his time away from the spotlight.
Styles ditched his blazer and picked up a guitar for his second performance, debuting the 1970s folk-inspired “Ever Since New York,” a fitting stage and venue for the song’s introduction.
Eliminating any doubts over whether Styles could fill a stage on his own, the singer enlisted the help of his backing band to deliver a group harmonizing final line worthy of CSNY, with the singer showing off his pipes with a soaring closing note.
Speculation immediately began running rampant over whether the new single is in response to Style’s highly publicized 2012 relationship with Taylor Swift, noting that the title could be a nod to Swift and her single “Welcome To New York.” Swift famously addressed the pairs’ short-lived relationship in the songs “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “Style,” the latter painting a not-so-flattering picture of the British singer.
Saturday night’s performance not only succeeded in widening Style’s fan base, but it also made us think that the upcoming star of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk should pull a Justin Timberlake and act as host and musical guest. That Mick Jagger impression was outstanding.
The singer later appeared in a skit along with host Jimmy Fallon, combining his singing skills and comedic timing. The hook was fire.
Harry Styles’ self-titled solo album is set to be released on May 12. He debuted the album cover and tracklisting on Friday, revealing the titles of all 10 songs.