In late August, the most important profile of the year—nay, the decade—landed on the cover of Rolling Stone. I’m not talking about a future president or a climate change advocate. No, this was someone with much more sway, much more swagger.
“It’s all about having sex and feeling sad,” Harry Styles said of his forthcoming album (the release date for which is still under wraps), which will follow his 2017 self-titled solo debut. We got our first taste of that first topic last week, when the former One Direction member shared the album’s saucy first single, “Lights Up,” and promptly destroyed the internet and all its inhabitants.
The song itself isn’t necessarily anything special, but the music video contains multitudes, as they say. In this case, that means multitudes of half-clothed people (both men and women) drenched in sweat and draping themselves across Style’s equally bare body, essentially mirroring an orgy. Whew! Harry Styles wasn’t nearly as innocent as the starry-eyed pop songs from Styles’ One Direction days, but it also wasn’t nearly as racy as this feast for the eyes. Behold:
Styles has been a hunk since day one, but now as his millennial fans are also maturing, he has taken the heat to the next level. If you thought the photos from that steamy RS profile sent fans into a tizzy, wait until you search the #LightsUp hashtag on any given social media platform. Something miraculous is happening: People of all ages and genders, be them devoted Styles stans, One Direction originals or newcomers, are horny for Harry Styles (best exemplified by this cheeky Instagram post, courtesy of The Cut). That’s the power of this music video, which is literally the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.
But the “Lights Up” video and Rolling Stone profile are important for reasons beyond Harry Style’s campaign for People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” title (still give him the trophy, dammit). The music video shows Styles, a man who has made a career singing about the women he loves, knocking knees with folks of all genders. He released the video on National Coming Out day, too (a bit on the nose, yeah?). In the RS spread, he wears varying degrees of gender-ambiguous fashion, from a sassy blue beret to a slimming denim jumpsuit. In an age when people are challenging notions of masculinity daily (including this massive package from GQ), Styles is blurring the lines, too, and gaining tons of new fans in the process.
“I feel pretty lucky to have a group of friends who are guys who would talk about their emotions and be really open,” he told Rob Sheffield, who wrote the profile.
This is all to say that Harry Styles is officially a 21st century sex symbol, and he’s not going anywhere. Buckle up, because it’s only going to get steamier from here.