Author: Lara (@laraot5larry)
[ Disclaimer: This article in no way speaks of Harry’s sexuality but rather about his feminine side that is assumed to have been expressed in his songs. All statements are based on opinion of the author. ]
“painted nails make Harry beautiful” ~ Louis Tomlinson, 2011.
Earlier this year in April, along with the early leak of Harry’s House, a bunch of studio versions of previously unknown songs of Harry were leaked. Among those was the song “Him”.
To any other listener, the song would seem to be written about a love triangle. It surprised me to see many No-Stunt-Larries label it a stunt song too. But anybody actually listening to the song can tell how personal it is. The emotion that Harry manages to convey, not only through the lyrics but also in the tone of the music, is too raw and real for it to be a stunt song. So labelling “Him” a stunt song was never an option for me and many other people, and most of us had no proper explanation for the song.
*photos from Nikkimmedia.com
That was until my local music player played “As It Was” right after “Him”. Finding the connection between “As It Was” and “Him” sent my mind into overdrive and I sat down to listen to Harry’s discography from the beginning. Towards the end, these are the songs that I was able to directly connect to “Him”:
- “Woman” [album: Harry Styles]
- “She” [album: Fine Line]
- “Lights Up” [album: Fine Line]
- “As It Was” [album: Harry’s House]
- “Little Freak” [album: Harry’s House]
Listening to them together tells me a beautiful story of Harry coming to terms with who he is. Here’s a link to the Spotify playlist having these songs in order if you want to listen to it before or while continuing. In this article, I speak of the connections I found between the aforementioned songs and I hope to do justice to the story that speaks to me.
Many have assumed that Harry has often used female pronouns in his songs to acknowledge his feminine side [eg: “She”]. It makes you wonder if he ever used male pronouns in the third person to talk about himself. That is what “Him” is about. “Him” is a song of Harry’s feminine side acknowledging the existence of herself while she speaks of her insecurities when ‘he’ (Harry) is with Louis. The very first verse starts with the establishment that there are two of them and how it’s only one present at a time. The same thing is mentioned again in “As It Was” where Harry seems to come to terms with the fact that ‘she’ is not something that can be replaced.
The rest of the song speaks about how ‘she’ feels not appreciated enough and inadequate when compared to ‘him’. Much later in “Little Freak,” Harry talks again of these aspects of ‘her’ that he loves and respects, even though they seemed to have caused ‘her’ to feel hurt [as mentioned in “Him”].
While “Him” is Harry’s feminine side’s point of view when he’s with Louis, “Woman” is from his point of view in the opposite situation. The song starts with “should we just search romantic comedies on Netflix and see what we find”; what do you find when you search for romantic comedies on Netflix? The answer is quite obvious. “Woman” is about him reprimanding ‘her’ for being with Louis. “you flower, you feast”– even when being disapproving of ‘her’, Harry doesn’t fail to acknowledge her delicacy.
In the album Fine Line, we get to hear parts of this story from both ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ through “She” and “Lights Up” respectively.
“She” is a self-explanatory song: It speaks of how a man goes about his day, yet there it is, his feminine side, always on the back of his mind while he pretends not to know Her. The transition from “Woman” to “She” gives you quite the whiplash. The tone of “Woman” is disapproving and accusatory while “She” showcases the blissfully ignorant state of mind of the same speaker.
“Lights Up” is my personal favourite in this story. It is popularly theorized that “Lights Up” is about Harry coming to terms with his sexuality, but that’s not all it is about. It is a song of self-acceptance where ‘she’ is unapologetically herself and refuses to be put down by anybody. The dual imagery showcased throughout “Lights Up” in both the music video with reflections and two-person bike riding, and also on stage during HSLOT 2022 by using split-mirror image visuals vouch for this thought.
The red-blue theme that we see in “As It Was” also happened to begin with “Lights Up.” “As It Was” is a sequel of sorts for “She,” where the speaker shifts from the ‘blissfully ignorant’ state to acknowledging ‘her’ presence and the difference in their current situations. That being said, @onlytheavocados has an excellent Twitter thread about the famous “Red Pill or Blue Pill” dilemma in the “As It Was” music video. To take the red pill is to learn a life-changing truth while the blue pill is for contended ignorance. Towards the end of the “As It Was” music video, we see that it’s the red version that remains while the blue disappears. This ties back to the previously mentioned link between “As It Was” and “Him” which talks about how one of them always leaves.
This saga from self-loathing to self-acceptance comes to an end with “Little Freak.” In my opinion, this is the most delicate song that Harry has ever written. With “Lights Up” being about ‘her’ accepting herself, “Little Freak” is a ballad for ‘her’ that shows how accepting and loving he is of ‘her.’ He apologises for not being so accepting of ‘her’ before and happily admits to be always thinking of ‘her’, a quiet contrast from pretending ignorance in “She.”
To conclude, I’d say that there are many different interpretations of these songs. To me, all of them together tell a heart-breaking, yet incredible, story of self-discovery. The Harry we see today fought with not only the world to be who he is but also himself. He deserves so much love and respect for not giving up and staying true to himself. He is an inspiration for a lot of queer youths and the story he’s telling needs to be heard.
Happy International Non-Binary People’s Day!