Double Singles: “Lights On” by Harry Styles


Joey Jones, Opinion Editor


Harry Styles keeps distinguishing himself from his former band, all the while producing quality music that never ceases to interest.

Harry Styles, a former member of One Direction and arguably their frontman, has spent the last 2 years releasing songs (as well as a self-titled album) and didn’t waste any time wowing audiences. His first single, “Sign of the Times” was an explosive rock ballad, rocketing straight to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. As someone who never enjoyed One Direction, it was a shock at the time.

While obviously a bit more conventional in pop structure, it managed to be reminiscent of the classic Bowie song “Space Oddity”.  Additionally, that album featured “Sweet Creature”, an acoustic, guitar-driven song managing to capture a bit of the magic brought to the table by folkies in the 1960s and ’70s. On top of a pretty strong album, it was proof of concept for a more inventive and magnetizing musical career for Styles. It’s something I believe he’ll continue based on his new single.

Lights Up fascinates me for one simple reason: that pre-chorus chord progression. It’s so weird and out there for a Top 40 pop song. The key is B-Flat Minor, and the song is pretty conventional for the most part. But in the pre-chorus, signaled by the lines, “All the lights couldn’t put out the dark/Runnin’ through my heart/Lights up and they know who you are/Know who you are/Do you know who you are?” the progression changes from a fairly symmetrical-sounding one to a descending line borrowing from the major key.

That may not sound like much, but what it represents is a change from a normal pattern to a progression that borrows from a major scale, turning the final chord from sad to happy. Borrowing outside the key is an intentional move to make the song memorable, and it works.

In addition to that, the song is filled with the smooth instrumentation, capable songwriting, and talented singing that, to my surprise, I’ve apparently come to expect from Harry Styles. I’d give this song a decent to strong 8.

“Lights Up” can be found on Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music, and all other video/music platforms.