“Sign Of The Times”
April 7, 2017
Harry Styles, Jeff Bhasker, Mitch Rowland, Ryan Nasci, Alex Salibian & Tyler Johnson
Jeff Bhasker, Alex Salibian & Tyler Johnson
Lyrically, it addresses themes such as death, mortality, social weariness and lack of communication.
The song is a pop rock, soft rock, piano ballad. The power ballad shows influences from British rock from the early 1970s.
The track was co-written by producer Jeff Bhasker, as well as Alex Salibian, Tyler Johnson, Mitch Rowland, Ryan Nasci and Styles himself. The track was recorded at Village Studios in Los Angeles and Geejam Hotel Recording Studio in Port Antonio, Jamaica. The song was mixed by Mark "Spike" Stent.
Styles described Sign Of The Times as his favorite song, stating: "We worked out [the first single] when the whole album was finished. We had ideas about what the first single would be and we thought maybe we should hold [Sign Of The Times] till a little later, then we all ended up saying why would we just not put this out first? It’s just absolutely what I want to say the most and it’s my favorite song in the album".
When asked about the meaning, Styles initially said he was leaving it ambiguous, stating: "I don't think I'd ever say exactly what it's about. For each person to take away what they get from something is important. It is the most literal song on the album. It's a view of a lot of things that go on". However, in his April 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, Styles further elaborated on a more specific meaning: "Most of the stuff that hurts me about what's going on at the moment is not politics, it's fundamentals. Equal rights. For everyone, all races, sexes, everything. 'Sign of the Times' came from 'This isn't the first time we've been in a hard time, and it's not going to be the last time.' The song is written from a point of view as if a mother was giving birth to a child and there's a complication. The mother is told, 'The child is fine, but you're not going to make it.' The mother has five minutes to tell the child, 'Go forth and conquer'. Styles later revealed yet another, more political, interpretation, stating: "We happen to be in a time where things happening around the world are absolutely impossible to ignore. I think it would've been strange to not acknowledge what was going on at all. 'Sign of the Times,' for me, it's looking at several different things. That's me commenting on different things...just the state of the world at the moment. It's very much me looking at that. It's a time when it's very easy to feel incredibly sad about a lot of things. It's also nice sometimes to remember that while there's a lot of bad stuff, there's also a lot of amazing people doing amazing things in the world."
Styles announced the single virally, airing a short advert on UK television on March 28, 2017. The advert showed a soaking wet Styles opening the door of a dark room, with a bright light illuminating the outside. The single title and cover art were simultaneously revealed on March 31st via Styles' Instagram account. On April 7, 2017 Styles premiered Sign Of The Times at 8am on BBC Radio 1 with Nick Grimshaw. He also hosted a 2 hour special where he chatted to Grimshaw and played a selection of his favorite songs. The audio was also simultaneously uploaded to Styles' official Vevo account. Styles was interviewed by several radio show hosts from April 7 to 10, including Dermot O'Leary, Elvis Duran and Ryan Seacrest.
Sign Of The Times received mixed reviews, The Independent rated it three stars, praising Styles' ability to shift his vocals from "a tender, slightly husky croon to an impressive falsetto" and David Bowie influence, but criticised the track for not venturing far enough from One Direction's sound. The Telegraph also rated the song three stars, stating it was "swooning piano ballad with somewhat overdone production (there is the occasional grand, almost intergalactic synth and a chorus of electric guitars) It recalls Robbie Williams's blockbuster stadium anthem Angels and Queen's sentimental pomp". The Guardian praised the single stating "as a credible piece of indie-pop balladry that moves Styles into a new arena, I’d say he just about pulls it off".
On 7 May 2018, Sign of The Times received a Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) award.
Within 8 hours of release, Sign Of The Times reached #1 on iTunes in 82 countries. The single broke Adele's record for fastest song to reach #1 on US iTunes (50 minutes), hitting the top spot in 19 minutes. Styles' debut performance of Sign Of The Times on Saturday Night Live became the most Shazamed live performance ever on April 17, 2017. As of May 2017, the single has over 69 million Spotify streams.
Sign Of The Times debuted at #1 in five countries, including the United Kingdom's Official Charts, the Australian ARIA Singles Chart and the Scottish Official Charts. It debuted at #4 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 and sold 142,000 copies, earning 16.5 million streams and 23 million airplay impressions in its first week. The single was certified gold in Australia on April 29, 2017. On May 12, Sign Of The Times was certified silver in the UK, earning Styles his first solo bpi award. It was then certified gold in the UK on June 16, 2017. The single was also certified gold in the United States on May 9 2017, with 500,00 units sold. On May 18, it was certified gold in Sweden.
|Released||May 8, 2017|
|Location||Isle of Skye, Scotland|
|VEVO views||479,066,431 (as of 21 February, 2019)|
- ↑ Harry Styles Says 'Sign of the Times' Is About Brexit, Black Lives Matter & Donald Trump... Kind Of
- ↑ Harry Styles new song 'Sign of the Times' review: Bowie nods aren't enough to move him out of One Direction territory
- ↑ Harry Styles debuts Sign of the Times. Is he really the new Bowie?
- ↑ BBCR1 Tweet
- ↑ HARRY STYLES SCORES DEBUT SOLO #1
- ↑ Ed Sheeran Tops Hot 100 for 12th Week, as Harry Styles Starts at No. 4
- ↑ Sign Of The Times silver tweet