On April 7, 2017 the music gods smiled down upon us and released into the world, and more importantly, into Spotify, a perfect song.
Harry Styles is back from his post-One Direction hiatus in glorious fashion, with the release of his solo debut, "Sign of the Times." It's not what anyone could have expected, an almost-six-minute ballad that Billboard calls "50 years of rock history in one song."
This is a lot to process. In an attempt to try and explain the emotional roller coaster that is listening to "Sign of the Times," I have completed a minute-by-minute analysis of what it's like to listen to the nearly six minute musical colossus.
As you settle in, you're greeted with simple piano chords and the whir of something space-like. You've barely had a chance to contemplate the noise when Harry starts to sing.
"Just stop your crying, it's a sign of the times," he croons, accompanied only by the solo piano, which is unquestionably not being played by Elton John, but I like to imagine it is. After this line, Elton would look up at Harry and give a knowing wink, Harry barely noticing; he's gearing up to break into full falsetto.
The falsetto is mostly unintelligible except for the word "bullets." This is game-changing, emotionally. Harry has obviously been contemplating war, strife and the state of humanity, lest we forget about his minor role in Christopher Nolan's upcoming World War II drama Dunkirk.
The road ahead is unclear and marked by a foreboding tone, but there is absolutely no going back.
It's in minute two that the music really begins to swell, and with it, your heart. Drums and guitar kick in and Harry begins the verse again, with added fervor.
"They told me that the end is near/ We gotta get away from here." Harry knows something we don't. Who are "they"? Where are we now? And where are we expected to go? So many questions, but Harry isn't going to offer any answers quickly. He has about four more minutes left, after all.
The second verse certainly doesn't bring answers.
"Remember everything will be alright/ We can meet again somewhere/ Somewhere far away from here," he sings. These lyrics resonate as the drum beat signals an entry back into the falsetto pre-chorus. Barely halfway through the song and already Harry has managed to throw the listener for multiple loops. He doesn't care. He's a vague brooding rock god now and everyone will just have to get used to it.
You realize you're crying. You realize it's a sign of the times. We gotta get away from here.
One day analysts will write textbooks dedicated to trying to explain the musical gravitas embedded in Harry beginning the bridge of this song.
It's the perfect finish, a powerful belted admittance that "We don't talk enough, we should open up/ Before it's all too much." Talk of bullets and running is swapped for contemplation of a rocky relationship.
Maybe it's not about a real war. Maybe it never was.
To be fair, it's only 40 seconds. Harry ends with three proclamations of "We got to, we got to run," before soft piano notes play him out and end what has been a truly taxing and life-changing musical journey.
Time to put it on repeat for the rest of the day.