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Released: 2017

In Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times,” a poignant pop anthem, he delivers a reflective narrative that bids goodbye to a tumultuous chapter while acknowledging the harsh realities of life. With a healthy sprinkling of existentialism, Styles explores themes of change, acceptance, and escape, capturing the quintessential turmoil of human existence, all with a dash of British grandiosity.

From the get-go, “Just stop your cryin’, it’s a sign of the times,” serves as the emotional crux, hinting at an end of an era or the closure of a significant chapter. It’s a call to arms, a plea to accept change and soldier on with stoic resilience. Styles gives a nod towards inevitable change in a world that’s unpredictable and often unfair – we’re all rendered powerless in the vast cosmic theatre, hence, it’s a ‘sign of the times.’

“Welcome to the final show / Hope you’re wearin’ your best clothes” furthers the imagery of life as a grand spectacle. Styles presents this stage as a place of judgment, showcasing life’s dynamic, often fleeting nature, suggesting that one should always put their best foot forward, regardless of the circumstances.

Then comes the hook, “We never learn, we’ve been here before / Why are we always stuck and running from / The bullets? The bullets?” It’s here where Styles unveils his commentary on repetitive patterns of human behaviour and historical cycles of violence and suffering. We make the same mistakes, face the same challenges – always running from symbolic ‘bullets.’ Styles here is being the grim prophet reminding us of our collective amnesia, our inability to learn from the past.

The chorus encourages the listener to escape, to get away from recurring hardships – “We gotta get away from here.” These lines portray a sense of unrest, a longing to break free and seek solace away from the everyday noise and conflict. The end being ‘near’ further dramatizes the situation, precisely the kind of theatrical flourish that Styles loves to balance with his grounded British lyricism.

The high point of the song, “We don’t talk enough, we should open up / Before it’s all too much,” Styles advocates for open communication, underlying the power of vulnerability in dealing with individual and collective trials. It’s a call to face reality before it becomes overwhelming.

The closing lines, “Stop your crying, baby, it’s a sign of the times / We got to get away, we got to get away,” reinforce the themes of acceptance and escapism. Styles ends on a note of urgency, urging listeners to move on, echoing the sentiment of formidable change and seeking greener pastures.

“Sign of the Times” is a lyrical masterstroke, a pop ballad that holds the mirror to society and the human condition. Styles is your poet, a critical observer, couching deep existential reflections in a catchy, eminently listenable tune. What an absolute gem of a song!

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