Harry Styles, Change, and “As It Was”

Harry Styles © Hanna Moon
Harry Styles © Hanna Moon
Harry Styles makes his comeback with “As It Was,” red jumpsuit and all, to discuss expectations and change – what has been, and what could have been.
Stream: “As It Was” – Harry Styles




Harry Styles was gone for three years, though he never really left.

Then in an epic meteor shower of announcements and teases, Styles’ new single and accompanying music video “As It Was” came out with a bang. The song is the first track to be released from Styles’ upcoming third album Harry’s House, set for release May 20, 2022 via Columbia and Erskine Records, following 2019’s critically acclaimed Fine Line. A nod to a Joni Mitchell song of the same name, the Harry’s House era is being ushered in quickly – and it can’t come soon enough.

Harry's House - Harry Styles
Harry’s House – Harry Styles
Holdin’ me back
Gravity’s holdin’ me back
I want you to hold out the palm of your hand
Why don’t we leave it at that?
Nothin’ to say
When everything gets in the way
Seems you cannot be replaced
And I’m the one who will stay, oh-oh-oh

As the phrase goes, a change is as good as a rest, and that is precisely what Styles aims to share through “As It Was.” The track has moments of Styles at his best, with a focused mind, heavy heart, and saccharine voice. He starts the track close to home, with goddaughter Ruby Wilson exclaiming, “Come on Harry, we want to say good night to you!” The next two minutes and forty three seconds can very well last a lifetime.

Harry Styles © Lloyd Wakefield
Harry Styles © Lloyd Wakefield



Styles begins, “Holding me back, gravity’s holding me back. I want you to hold out the palm of your hand, why can’t we leave it at that?” With a “Take On Me” meets Is This It? riff, we are thrust into racing drums, a gentle synth, and Styles’ talking tone. The ingredients are unlikely ones for a Harry Styles song, but they are effortless nonetheless.

In this world, it’s just us
You know it’s not the same as it was
In this world, it’s just us
You know it’s not the same as it was
As it was, as it was
You know it’s not the same

Every corner of the song ripples with nostalgia. The chorus sits you down to talk the only constant: “In this world, it’s just us. You know it’s not the same as it was.

Harry Styles © Lloyd Wakefield
Harry Styles © Lloyd Wakefield



The music video features Styles pinned and spread as a butterfly, his companion beside him.

His near-naked body is surveyed and he is ripped apart from the only friend that he knows. They are two halves of a whole, clinging onto each other, to what they know. The identity of the girl is unclear, but the “Harries” form theories stemming from current relationship with Olivia Wilde, and more likely insights about Harry’s childhood forming the basis for the effervescent single.

No matter the cause, there is an exhaustion about Styles. His voice is as heavy as puffy, tear-soaked eyelids, as he spins a web of self-hatred from where he lies: “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?

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?”
Ringin’ the bell
And nobody’s coming to help
Your daddy lives by himself
He just wants to know that you’re well, oh-oh-oh
In this world, it’s just us
You know it’s not the same as it was
In this world, it’s just us
You know it’s not the same as it was
As it was, as it was
You know it’s not the same
Harry Styles © Lloyd Wakefield
Harry Styles © Lloyd Wakefield



The most surprising and addictive part of the track is found in the bridge. The break is one of Styles’ most dynamic musical moments to date. It sneaks in innocently, as Styles and girl go round and round on a turntable, as she falls short of Styles reach time and time again. Styles murmurs in what is practically a single sentence, “Go home, get ahead, light speed internet, I don’t want to talk about the way that it was. Leave America, two kids, follow her, I don’t want to talk about who’s doing it first.”  Bells chime in celebration, a “come one come all” summoning, to bring us home.

Go home, get ahead, light-speed internet
I don’t wanna talk about the way that it was
Leave America, two kids follow her
I don’t wanna talk about who’s doin’ it first

An epic dance break, arms thrust out as wings, and the signature cheeky smile end the video. The bells take us back to the beginning, to goddaughter Ruby Winston’s voice, to home.

Best when listened on repeat, “As It Was” makes your feet dance and your head spin.

— —

:: stream/purchase “As It Was” here ::
:: pre-stream/purchase Harry’s House here ::
Stream: “As It Was” – Harry Styles



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Harry's House - Harry Styles

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