Skip to main content

12th April 2022

Harry Styles – ‘As It Was’ single review

Will Waterhouse reviews and looks for clues in Harry Styles’ recent single As It Was.
Harry Styles – ‘As It Was’ single review
Photo: Harry’s House Official Album Art

Two years since the release of his second album ‘Fine Line’, Harry Styles releases his single ‘As It was’ off of his forthcoming album ‘Harry’s House’.

‘As It Was’ was co-written and produced by Harry Styles’ collaborators, Tyler Johnson and Kid Harpoon. The track begins with the voice of his goddaughter Ruby Winston, daughter of British filmmaker Ben Winston. She can be heard saying ‘Come on Harry we want to say goodnight to you’. Following this it feels as though the track continues with innocence and vulnerability at its core.

In an interview with Roman Kemp on CapitalFM harry reveals the meaning behind the opening:

“It’s the voice of my goddaughter. She used to try and call me before bedtime every night, and one time it didn’t ring or something, so they sent me that. I dug it out when we were in the studio and put it in front of the song for some reason, and I kind of just fell in love with it, so it stuck.”

Musically the track isn’t exactly what I expected from Harry’s new venture. The kick, snare, and high-hat drum beat and main synth hook could be likened to a Her’s or Declan McKenna track but sonically, it builds similar to a Gus Dapperton record. In a similar vein and as mentioned above, the track has the vulnerability one often hears in bedroom pop records. The lines “Answer the phone / Harry, you’re no good alone / Why are you sitting at home on the floor? / What kind of pills are you on?“, speak to a deep sadness and when juxtaposed with the undoubtedly upbeat nature of the track the result is emotionally turbulent. The melody contour is heartache but the lead synth is plucky and eager. Combined with Harry’s vocals growing ever stronger throughout the track and bells entering the mix in the final chorus leaves you tentatively uplifted… but you’ll have to listen again to make sure that’s the right way to feel.

Styles’ fans have picked apart the lyrics as ravenously as one might assume. But it takes no effort to understand that, ‘You know it’s not the same as it was’ , speaks to everybody’s experience of time passing and the painful emotional changes in anyone’s life. Of course his fans have speculated as to the who/when/where etc. of these lines, and to them I say good luck with your investigation.  This is classic Styles though, just check out the lyrics to ‘Two Ghosts’ from his debut album and the words ‘We’re not who we used to be‘ seem recapitulated in this newest track.

‘As It Was’ comes with an accompanying music video which was filmed in London by Ukrainian director Tanu Muino. We see Styles performing in a red sequinned leotard with intriguing choreography opposite a woman in a blue version of the same outfit. Some have suggested this mirrors the blue and red pill from The Matrix, the former representing blissful ignorance, while the latter represents painful truth. This would aptly chime with the lyric ‘What kind of pills are you on?’ but equally this could just be GCSE English Literature style conjecture. See for yourself:

Harry Styles announced his new Album ‘Harry’s House’ last month after teasing fans with a series of social media posts on twitter and Instagram among others through an account called ‘You Are Home’. Harry’s team have done this before of course with an even more elaborate but similar scheme to hint towards the release of his video for ‘Adore You’. His marketing team must be having a great time.

Harry’s album will be released on 20th May and you can pre-save it here.

More Coverage

Live at Leeds in the Park preview: Ringing in the north’s festival season

Live at Leeds returns once again for 2024 – find out all you need to know here!

Adrianne Lenker live in Manchester: Beauty in simplicity from a generational talent

Big Thief frontperson Adrianne Lenker brought her solo show to Castlefield’s Aviva Studios, gifting the audience simple snippets of grace and serenity

Bleachers live in Manchester: Fan-centric show from the studio to the stage

The Jack Antonoff-fronted six-piece, Bleachers, break the fourth wall at their Manchester O2 Ritz show equipped with theatric production but packed with earnest, artist to audience interactions

The Pleasure Dome present ‘Liminal Space’: A surprisingly varied punk rock powerhouse

Bristolian rockers The Pleasure Dome return with their newest EP ‘Liminal Space’ to demonstrate their musical versatility