On National Coming Out Day, Harry Styles released a two minute and 52 second ode to queerness named “Lights Up,” accompanied by a colorful and sensual music video. I know what you’re thinking, a white cis male is coming out as queer, there are more impressive things that have happened. And while that is true, Harry Styles’ evolution is particularly intriguing.
Our beloved Harry got his start as a contestant on X Factor before he was selected to be in One Direction. He stole the hearts of people everywhere with his mischievous smile, his curly hair and his eyes that seem to tell you that “you don’t know you’re beautiful.” Arguably the most fashionably daring of the group, he continued to dazzle millions throughout his tenure with One Direction. However, when the boy band officially split in 2015 — and I’m not talking about when Zayn left — people literally had meltdowns and thought that a light in our lives was gone forever. Some members of One Direction ventured into solo careers seeking to tackle the music industry on their own, while others decided to become baby daddys. We saw Liam Payne exemplify exactly how overcompensation works when he released “Strip That Down” in an effort to separate himself from the boyband name. Poor guy just wants to be cool. Niall used the 1D split to embark on a moderately successful music journey. But Harry Edward Styles was the shining star that led us out of the darkness that was a world without 1D.
Harry Styles’ self-named album reached 10th best album in 2017 according to Billboard and 5th best according to Rolling Stone. The second track of the album, Sign of the Time is his most played song on Spotify, at 538,016,613 plays. The song styles (pun intended) on that album varied from the rock n’ roll of “Kiwi,” to the slow and sultry “Meet Me in the Hallway.” Now, more than two years since the album’s release, Harry Styles is ready to show the world what else he can do.
His single, Lights Up, is a pop-rock song with bright and uplifting tone and lyrics. He admits to knowing who he is and the uncertainty that comes with dealing with the world’s reaction. In acceptance of his identity, he sings about stepping into the light and how he will never go back to the way it was before. The synth background and choral backup singers boost the power of his lyrics.
His accompanying music video is no less empowering. There are distinct color schemes pictured throughout the song. First, he dances shirtless in green light in a mosh as he sensually takes in each person dancing with him. Then, he is sitting on the back of a motorcycle washed in red light, howling his lyrics into the nighttime around him. Thirdly, he is illuminated in white light while wearing a silver shirt with white suspenders, his hair tousled and wet as he wanders a white decorated house. A pink hue illuminates a swimming pool he floats in with his white outfit. When he gets to his chorus, a white light illuminates his face while everyone around him still dances in green. The symbolism of the different colored lights for different scenes plays into his overall metaphor of stepping into the light for admitting, accepting and admiring, one’s own identity. After having a career entirely in the spotlight and needing to keep up a certain image for the sake of “the band,” it is clear that Harry Styles is thriving on his own and it shows in his art.