Harry Styles and Ariana Grande were both deeply impacted by terrorism in Manchester. It was a strike to heart for Harry who grew up in nearby Holmes Chapel and for Ariana since her concert was targeted, but did Styles somehow intuitively feel something bad coming when he wrote “Sign of the Times”?
Ariana Grande was deeply traumatized by terrorism. There have been three attacks of terrorism on Britain in the last three months.
Harry Styles and Ariana Grande have risen to the occasion; the former comforted a hospitalized fan the next morning, while Ariana Grande bravely faced her own personal terror by hosting a benefit concert for the victims. Though this incident understandably shook Ariana Grande to her foundations, Grande arose like a great phoenix to perform again in tribute to those lost.
Could Harry Styles have felt the coming horror of a future event in a spot less than 30 miles from his hometown as Harry wrote “Sign of the Times”? Could Styles have, however vaguely, sensed trouble coming to his homeland?
An act of terrorism at the Ariana Grande concert killed 22 people and injured over 100 according to the New York Times. That Ariana Grande returned to the stage so soon, to Ariana’s credit, shows incredible grit.
Harry Styles and Ariana Grande have many crossover fans. Many young people adore both Harry Styles and Ariana Grande.
Harry Styles loves his fans and always takes the time to interact with them as much as possible. Harry Styles seems to feel deeply for the little girls who idolize him.
Ariana Grande likewise is devoted to the young people who love her music. What sort of impact will terrorism have on Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, and music going into the future?
Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” seems to speak directly to terrorism, though Styles at first said it was about the personal tragedy of a young mother dying with a newborn infant in her arms. Later Harry confided to NPR it was also about “bad stuff” happening in the world.
“There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world. And it’s not the last time that we will be in a place like that. I think the way that we receive information all the time now, it’s really difficult to ignore that stuff — and I think it would have been weird for me to write an album and not acknowledge that there’s anything bad going on in the world.”
Harry Styles is right, of course; one hardly needs a crystal ball to know that “bad stuff” happens, has happened before, and will happen again. Also, there were no actual “bullets” used in the terrorism at Ariana Grande’s concert. It was a suicide bomber, but most acts of terrorism involve bullets.
“Why are we always stuck and running from the bullets?”
Still, certain details in the song seem to make “Sign of the Times” a perfect anthem for the Ariana Grande concert tragedy.
“Welcome to the final show
Hope you’re wearing your best clothes.”
However, the act of terrorism at the Ariana Grande show in Manchester was beyond the usual and much closer to home for Harry Styles who knows Ariana Grande and hails from the area struck. Manchester is between Holmes Chapel and Liverpool and the nearest major city to Holmes Chapel where Harry Styles grew up and where his family still lives.
“Sign of the Times” was Harry Styles’ way of reassuring young people in the face of “bad stuff.” Harry Styles explained this to NPR.
“I think we were writing it from a place of — you have five minutes to say, “It’s going to be all right.”
“Sign of the Times” does not, however, infer that things are “alright” in any ordinary earthly sense. The phrase seems more philosophical. After all, Harry Styles says it is about dying and leaving others behind.
“Just stop your crying
Have the time of your life
Breaking through the atmosphere
And things are pretty good from here”
Terrorism at the Ariana Grande show in Manchester left both Ariana Grande, Grande’s fans, and their parents devastated in the wake of this horror. Only a belief in some sort of afterlife could console the victims of the profound tragedy that occurred at Ariana Grande’s concert. Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” strongly suggests an afterlife.
Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” no doubt brought quizzical expressions to the faces of all listeners when it was first released. It was hard to know what to make of it. It didn’t really sound like the Harry Styles of One Direction.
Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” didn’t sound like the classic rock genre that was promised either. It was unique and had an otherworldly transcendent quality that was hard to classify immediately.
Ariana Grande’s tragic concert attack and the terrorism so prevalent now do seem to be the subject of Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times.” Terrorism has sadly become a sign of these times, but the attack on Ariana Grande’s concert was especially shocking.
Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times,” with its gentle, reassuring lyrics, isn’t the traditional British “stiff upper lip” of World War II. “Sign of the Times” is heartfelt, emotional, and transcendent to another place where everything will “be alright.”
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Harry Styles dug deep for “Sign of the Times.” Musicians who dig deep tend to tap into muses they don’t fully understand. They create hidden meanings even they don’t fully understand. Creativity isn’t a formula or an algorithm to be understood. It is about hidden inspirations, and sometimes the lyrics just happen to fit things the writer had no way of knowing.
Did Harry Styles’ intuition deliver “Sign of the Times” to provide comfort for the Ariana Grande concert terrorism attack? It is impossible to know for certain, and obviously, Harry Styles didn’t know Ariana Grande’s concert would be attacked, but the coincidence of those lyrics is a bit unusual.
“Just stop your crying it’ll be alright
They told me that the end is near
We gotta get away from here”
Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” is comforting even in the face of the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande’s concert.
[Featured Image by Emma McIntyre and Dave Hogan/Getty Images]