Harry Styles “steps into the light” with new song “Lights Up”


Courtesy of Columbia Records

Harry Styles released “Lights Up” Oct. 10, his first song since his debut album from 2017.

Do you know who you are? That’s the question Harry Styles asks in his new single that came out last night, “Lights Up.” It’s his first release since his debut solo album, and he definitely seems to know who he is from the pressing, reflective lyrics and bold music video. I also know who I am–an embarrassingly big Harry Styles fan.

The song starts off with an ethereal intro: pretty synth and a fade-in of acoustic guitar. The tone changes as Styles’ voice comes in, leaning towards a raspy falsetto instead of his well known deep croon. The lyrics are fairly vague in the beginning, allowing both the listener to paste their own meaning onto the song and the intertwining drums, bass, and dreamy electric guitar to shine through. 

The energetic verse transitions to a slower, minor-key pre-chorus that creates a visceral, bittersweet emotion, building up to the chorus. The first lines of this part are one of my favorites: “All the lights couldn’t put out the dark/Running through my heart.” Not only do these lines establish contrasting imagery between darkness and light that continues throughout the song, but they also add to the eerie vibe. The pre-chorus ends with the pointed question, “Do you know who you are?” making it the most powerful part of the song.

As the pre-chorus fades into softer piano, the chorus hits you with a sudden angelic cry of voices: “Shine!” Styles then urges you to “step into the light,” contrasting the darker, more introspective lyrics in the pre-chorus. 

This contrast feels very powerful. The lights in the song seem to both function as positive and negative; on one hand, the lights allow Styles to know who he is, to “step into the light,” but on the other hand, the lights refer to the spotlight of the public eye—“lights up and they know who you are.” 

“Lights Up” is a definite transition in both Styles’ music and presentation of himself. He’s continuously breaking out of clean-cut, boy band box–“stepping into the light.” The song feels authentic in a way that he has not shown before, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the rest of the album.

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives “Lights Up” by Harry Styles a 9/10.