Music fans are still abuzz over the official announcement of Harry Styles’ first official solo offering, “Sign of the Times,” despite not knowing much about what is coming their way on April 7.
After weeks of teases and months of anticipation, the 23-year-old properly confirmed the start of his music career outside of pop group One Direction by revealing the cover art and title of the still-unheard of track on his Instagram early Friday morning, March 31, as noted by Billboard.
“The single cover appears to be of Styles,” the publication describes of the “Sign of the Times” single art, “[with] his back facing us, looking into a red-orange sunset while sitting in a pool of water.”
A post shared by @harrystyles on
While visually enthralling, the image itself seemingly tells us nothing about “Sign of the Times,” but incidentally, the date just might, or more specifically, the date on which Harry decided to tell the world about the premiere: March 31.
As it just so happens to similarly be, today also marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Sign O’ the Times, the 1987 Prince album that saw the iconic “Purple Rain” star completely distancing himself from his equally-iconic backing band, The Revolution, after dissolving the melodic collective in October of 1986.
“Released 30 years ago today (March 31, 1987), Sign O’ the Times was born from Crystal Ball, a proposed triple album that [former record label] Warner Bros. refused to put out,” Billboard explains in a separate article.
“That aborted set was itself composed of songs from two other scrapped projects. The first was Dream Factory, an album Prince made with unprecedented input from the Revolution — especially keyboardist Lisa Coleman and guitarist Wendy Melvoin. The other was Camille, in which Prince sang with sped-up vocals to play the androgynous title character. Camille was mostly a solo affair, though Wendy and Lisa made notable contributions to at least one song, ‘”Strange Relationship.'”
After Warner Bros. backed away from Crystal Ball, Prince retooled the LP by dropping most of the songs and rerecording several others, including the ones Coleman and Melvoin co-penned, and Sign O’ the Times, his first-ever true solo project, was born.
From that perspective, Styles could easily be using Prince as an admirable point of influence by likening his own hopes of successful solo stardom to the late musician’s, and furthermore, there’s actually another credible piece of this puzzle to consider when it comes to this possibility.
In June of 2013, whispers of a possible Harry Styles solo album first began to make their way through the peanut gallery following the leak of “Don’t Let Me Go,” a rough demo of a ballad solely sung by Styles, as Fuse reported, that dropped just as One Direction were putting the finishing touches on their third studio album, Midnight Memories.
While nothing ever came to pass at that time from the rumor or the song leak — Styles, as part of One Direction, was (and still is) locked into his three-album contract re-signing with Simon Cowell’s SYCO Entertainment from that year — the added fuel of Harry being the first to use his separate solo publishing deal to write a song for Ariana Grande’s My Everything album (“Just A Little Bit of Your Heart”), while also being the main “it” boy of 1D, didn’t help to quell the talk.
As it turned out, however, as we all know by now, crooner Zayn Malik would be the first to step away from One Direction in 2015; ironically, two years to the week of the reveal of Harry Styles’ first solo single, “Sign of the Times” (the remaining “What Makes You Beautiful” wrote a note to fans informing Malik’s departure on March 25, 2015 through their official Facebook fan page).
Could Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” be another history-cementing moment? Fans will find out for themselves when the song drops on April 7!
[Featured Image by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]