(The following article contains subjective interpretations and analyses of all four music videos from Harry Styles’ third studio album, Harry’s House. These interpretations are the opinion of the author and should not be regarded as definitive explanations endorsed by Harry Styles or any affiliated parties. The intention of this article is to provide insight about the artistic elements within the music videos. Individual interpretations may vary, and viewers are encouraged to form their own opinions based on their own subjective understanding.)
Over the past year, Harry Styles’ music videos have transported viewers to interesting and diverse settings: the emptied depths of an abandoned penguin pool, the unexpected comfort of a bed outside Buckingham Palace, the grim inner workings of a sushi restaurant, and the grounds of the Kennedy Space Center. With the release of his third album, Harry’s House, Styles has once again captivated audiences with his artistry and storytelling prowess. Each music video within this era showcases unique surroundings, evoking a sense of intrigue and inviting viewers into a world of imagination and symbolism. Here, we embark on an exploration of these music videos, delving into their potential meanings, visual motifs, and the narrative threads that weave through each frame.
“As It Was”
After weeks of esoteric hints and messages being provided through the You Are Home accounts, Styles released “As It Was,” the first single and music video for Harry’s House, on April 1, 2022. The music video opens with a shot of Styles banging on a glass door as the song begins. Suddenly thrust into a bustling crowd of people, Styles stands apart from the muted attire of all the others, wearing a bright red coat and moving backwards while those around him move forwards. As the lyrics seemingly imply, gravity is pulling him back towards the door he was initially aiming to enter.
When he finally walks into the room, a person wearing a sparkly blue ensemble awaits him. Styles is immediately freed from his red coat and is instead seen wearing his partner’s same outfit in red. Styles and his partner take to a spinning platform, where together, they spin in circles, sometimes finding one another and sometimes falling out of sync. It seems apparent that there is love to be found between the two of them, but external forces make it difficult for them to be together.
When the second verse of the song begins, Styles stretches his arm upwards, and as the camera follows this movement, he is transported to The Penguin Pool at London Zoo. (The same penguin pool that was home to three same-sex penguin couples and the slogan, “Some penguins are gay, get over it.”) While standing on the infrastructure of the empty penguin pool, surrounded by people from the opening scene, Styles and the others begin to strip down to an even more vulnerable state. As he takes off nearly all of his layers, his partner in blue is the only one who remains fully dressed, watching Styles the entire time until he walks over and embraces her.
As soon as the two embrace, they are transported back to the room where they first met, except now the obstacles have increased. As other dancers intrude, Styles and his partner are now pinned down, analyzed, and finally, forcibly pulled apart from one another. Once this separation occurs, Styles never manages to fully catch up with her again; as they are running in circles, she continuously remains just out of reach. This goes on until they both make the decision to finally slide off the spinning platform for good.
Once off, the choreography and tempo suddenly pick up. There is dancing, shouting, and doves flying outside, an implied reference to freedom. Styles appears more joyful than he has been throughout the video. As he makes it back outside to the setting from the opening scene, Styles has shed the red coat that was previously covering him, and he gleefully jumps and parades around. In the final clip, we see him break through the gate and run off, a smile overtaking his face.
Despite more melancholy lyrics (Styles himself described this song as feeling like a “Death March” in an interview with Zane Lowe) and a pensive music video to match, Styles leaves viewers on a more optimistic note, implying that there seems to be hope in whatever is yet to come.
Art by _dani_pao
“Late Night Talking”
The second single and music video from Harry’s House, “Late Night Talking,” appears to be a slight commentary on the differences between Styles’ public and private personas. Behind the upbeat melody, fun attire, and eccentric settings, there lies a potential criticism on the aspects of his “relationships” that are openly consumed by the public eye, and the sweet, domestic moments that are instead kept private from the rest of the world.
Donned in cute pajamas, Styles wakes up in bed seemingly confused by the fact that he’s alone before he ventures off to perhaps find his missing person. From there, the video breaks off into a variety of scenes, all of which have Styles surrounded by a multitude of different people, traveling by bed to different locations. In a particularly poignant clip, Styles is seen sitting on a bed in the middle of an art gallery, being observed and critiqued by the strangers perceiving him. This moment was inspired by an existing art piece by Tracey Emin titled, “My Bed.” This art piece, which is a conceptual installation that presents a snapshot of the artist’s own bedroom in a state of disarray, similarly reflects on themes of sexuality, relationships, and the complexities of human existence. It confronts notions of decorum, highlighting the messy and imperfect aspects of human existence that are often concealed or stigmatized. (In fact, it is the same art piece that is also mentioned in My Policeman—the heart-wrenching film about forbidden queer love in which Styles plays a lead role.) The scene of the music video that includes this reference seems to allude once more to the parts of an artist’s life that are seemingly put on display for others to judge.
From there, viewers witness a pivotal moment, in which Styles is then on a date with a male-presenting partner, and the two enjoy a plate of pasta in a private, secluded spot. When he is with this partner, it is just the two of them, and there is no one else there to witness or observe their domestic endeavors. In jarring contrast, Styles is then immediately shown on a public stage with a female-presenting partner, out in the open for everyone to see. As we bounce back and forth between seemingly private and public displays, the distinction between the two becomes increasingly clear.
Finally, the video ends with Styles as the officiant to another couple’s wedding, once again taking place on a bed. Before the ceremony can be completed, however, a storm begins and Styles is launched into it, free-falling through the rain and storm clouds. This particular ending came at a time when storms were a frequently used motif commonly being discussed within the fandom. In the lead-up to this video in particular, the You Are Home door teased its premiere with quotes from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem,” which states, “They’ve summoned up a thundercloud, and they’re going to hear from me.” Given the heavy stunting that seemed to be happening at the time of its release, this ending once again gave off an impression that despite things being bad, perhaps a change was finally coming.
Art by _dani_pao
“Music For A Sushi Restaurant”
The third music video and single, “Music for a Sushi Restaurant,” seemed to serve as a loud statement against the industry and the disparities that seemingly occur. At a surface-level glance, viewers were shown a video based on a half-squid merman performing inside a sushi restaurant, but beneath its playful lyrics and catchy tempo, Styles used this song as an opportunity to draw attention to the exploitation and iniquity that takes place behind the scenes.
In the opening shot, Styles is discovered on a beach—somewhat similar to how he got his start in real life, with the oceanside music video for “What Makes You Beautiful.” Upon being caught and trapped, he is then brought back to a sushi restaurant, where he is frightfully forced to watch the other fish and seafood being chopped and used for consumption. Here, the other sea animals may potentially represent other artists, heterosexual and queer alike, in the industry that have fallen into the hands of music executives, but despite their morbid end, all Styles can do in that moment is look on with fear knowing he is their next new thing. Eventually, a fish is held up to Styles—literal bait—potentially promising success and the opportunity to show off his talents. As he catches the fish in his mouth, Styles officially takes the bait, and thus hands over any semblance of control he once had.
As the newest star of the restaurant, it is clear that Styles is treated solely as a cash grab, giving the business a profitable boost. Backstage, other workers clean his tentacles, catering to his needs so long as he gives them what they’re after, but on a deeper level, it also appears they are “cleaning him up” (his sexuality perhaps, and/or his image) in an attempt to make him more desirable to the general public. Styles also looks displeased as he flips through a stack of papers, eventually tossing them to the ground as he sings the line, “Whatever you want.” This moment could potentially showcase Styles looking at a confining contract or performance schedule, before giving in and realizing he’ll have to do whatever they want from now on anyway.
Other clips and images shed light on the deeper implications of the video, such as Styles doing his popularized “whale” movement when performing, showing that he is portraying his onstage persona at the time. When someone asks him, “Can I touch your tail?,” the person is subsequently smacked by one of Styles’ tentacles, a move that highlights the discomfort Styles likely feels when being sexualized and treated as an object by strangers and “fans” alike.
In the end, Styles loses his voice, figuratively and literally. Figuratively, he loses his voice in the way that he can no longer speak up for himself or control his public persona. Literally, he stops being able to sing, and the loss of his voice is the end for him. Without his voice, he is deemed useless and is taken to the chopping block at the end of the video. Here, viewers are not left on a hopeful note as they have been in the past. The video is a surprisingly macabre look at the maltreatment of artists, containing a deeper message than most bargained for when they began watching for the first time. Despite the discomfort or sadness one might get from watching, however, this video was a big step for Styles to take in terms of shining light on the truth of the matter.
Art by Myrowx
Styles’ final and latest music video was recently released for the song “Satellite.” The video centers around a small robot by the name of Stomper, and as the lyrics of the song imply, Stomper is yearning to be there for the one that they love despite the glaring distance between them. Viewers learn in the beginning of the video that the subject of Stomper’s desires is none other than the Mars Rover, Curiosity, which was sent out into space in 2011. Backstage at one of Styles’ shows, Stomper sees a news clip about Curiosity and thus sets out on a voyage to find the beloved Mars Rover. While Stomper’s journey begins at one of Styles’ concerts, it soon becomes an adventure of epic proportions that leads them through various terrains, day and night, rain or shine.
First, Stomper is in attendance at Styles’ fourteenth show during his Los Angeles residency at the Kia Forum. While Styles is busy singing and dancing, Stomper can also be seen maneuvering around the stage until he is removed by security. When the show ends, Stomper leaves the venue in the pouring rain, and the trek truly begins. The camera follows the robot across busy highways, abandoned parking lots, barren fields, rocky canyons, and more. Despite the numerous locations traversed, there is still no sign of Stomper’s distant loved one.
At the end, Stomper is ultimately reunited with Styles in the midst of an empty field. Styles greets Stomper with a smile and the two share a moment where they both look up at the night sky with longing. This does not last long, however, as Stomper soon runs out of battery after a lengthy voyage, and sadly dies right before it is revealed that they are at the Kennedy Space Center—the one place that could have potentially reconnected Stomper with their love.
Many fans were left saddened by the ending of this video, demanding Styles to charge Stomper immediately. (Even the verified NASA account on Twitter got involved, telling Styles, “There’s space for you and Stomper in our orbit.”) Despite this melancholy ending, the video still managed to capture the hearts of many, showcasing the determination and perseverance one can have when they simply love another.
Art by londonfoginacup and mb__artworks
The music videos accompanying Harry Styles’ album Harry’s House have proven to be a visual feast, taking viewers on a transformative journey through a myriad of settings and narratives. Each video invites those watching to explore hidden meanings, unravel intricate symbolism, and immerse themselves in the imaginative and thought-provoking universes he has created. Through his artistic vision, Styles sparks curiosity, pushes boundaries, and challenges conventional storytelling, leaving an indelible impact on both the music and visual landscapes. The Harry’s House era showcases not only his evolution as an artist but also his ability to captivate audiences with his multifaceted talents. As fans and critics continue to interpret and engage with these music videos, one thing remains certain: Harry Styles’ artistic talents know no bounds, and his ability to transport fans into vivid worlds of sound and vision is a testament to his enduring impact in the realm of music and art.