Lights Up

WARNING: This is long. There is so much to touch on. (No pun intended.)

You don’t understand the POWER that this song wields for me. You don’t understand. No one understands.

The freaking “ooooo hooooo” at 1:45?? ugh

I could cry writing about this tune. It owns my entire heart, much like Harry himself. I tend to forget about it when I’m screaming about “Sunflower Vol 6” and “Golden” and “Adore You.” But it’s important to celebrate this song, because it’s the one song on the album that is Harr- centric. It’s him falling in love with himself, and I find that equally if not more compelling than hearing about him falling in love with Zayn.

Revisiting “Lights Up” this week has made me nostalgic, to say the least. It carries with it my feelings of pride for co-existing with the absolute legend that is Harry Styles. (The man who crafted this wildly experimental, funky, R&B-esque, genre-less sensation!) But it also reminds me of the euphoria Harry seemed to experience after liberating himself in 2019 and being “open.” And finally, it gives me strong pre-baby news memories, and that’s just too much for me to handle.

This song will always signify a great deal for all of those reasons above, not to mention it being a masterpiece melodically. I can’t—-the instruments, the intro, the opening guitar, the falsettos, the playfully defiant “la da da da da.” Harry’s ingenuity continues to shock me, and I was so glad to see him be rewarded with such a positive global response to Fine Line, making it a chapter of immeasurable success in his life far beyond the charts. He deserves every bit of the recognition, no matter what anyone says, and no matter how badly people want to diminish him for all the idiotic reasons they pull out of their rank a**holes on stan Twitter. Apart from being an all-around good-natured human, Harry has proven himself a fastidious, enterprising artist hard-at-work at all times, and I cannot begin to imagine what he’ll bring to the table on HS3!

When I think of Harry’s “Lights Up” I think of roughly five things. (I could really list 10 but I can’t count that high.)

  1. DO + Zayn’s Response Selfie (This is the only LONG part I promise)
  2. Sexy, oily, shirtless, tattooed body, and well…orgy! (Sorry)
  3. National Coming Out Day
  4. The theater term “Lights Up”
  5. And of course Zayn (In more ways than one!)

Page Two: DO + Zayn’s Response Selfie (This is the only LONG part I promise)

57 Replies to “Lights Up”

  1. WOW!! honestly, just WOW!!! Thank you. Love ALL your incites and examinations.

    I “found” Zarry during the height of the Covid Pandemic here in Australia (well Western Australia) in April last year and have been scrolling/searching/reading ever since – I may have even told a few people of my obsession!!!

    This video clip and others off this album have A LOT of similarity to what went on in the 2015 Aussie movie Holding the Man – have you seen it??

    Have you looked at MMITH lyrics – gotta bet better – and Zayn’s Better??

    But I mainly want you to know that I just LOVE what you give us xoxo

  2. Okay, I’m just starting to get the hang of commenting on this website but this was such a great read and as always, very insightful and filled with such wisdom. My heart sometimes aches for them both and I hope in the end they find their true place in this world, whatever that may mean. As always thank you so much for this wonderful piece of reading.

  3. I love all your posts. The question I have which no one is mentioning is Olivia. Zayn is with Gigi and the baby and Harry is with Olivia who was engaged for 7 years (talk about commitment issues) and her two kids. Think there’s a chance he and zayn can eventually get over these two? I’m happy if they are but dang seeing them so happy once it’s a shame they don’t appear to be that way now. Also as I have mentioned before, when they cooled off their relationship on stage, I do honestly believe their handlers and promoters made them tone it WAY down. Even the guitarist watched them be so open. And it took away from the concert with all the whispering they did so I can see them getting told to stop it

  4. I’m so so happy for H to have found self-acceptance. I think it’s illustrated so well in Lights up how he lets go of all these negative emotions/ connotations that have been burdening him and he’s taking a breath of relief as he opens up. It’s liberating and beautiful to watch.
    Something we can see Z still struggling with a lot. And it breaks my heart. I think for him it’s deeper than “just” the fear of coming out and people’s perception, I feel like it’s something he hasn’t been able to fully accept himself and if you yourself see it as a bad thing, or something to be kept hidden that can be extremely damaging and hindering. (Maybe it’s something he tried to explain by saying he’s stuck on this tightrope with his eyes closed fearing that any move could be the wrong one, and not knowing that letting go could actually be the best thing.)
    And i think if you carry that amount of self-hate and you struggle with self-worth, you push good things away (like we can see him do with his career as well as with H) if you feel undeserving.
    Just thinking that H may have felt similary strong negative emotions before he came to the point he is now, makes Lights up all the more powerful and I wish Z can get to this point as well and follow that neon red glow.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing the full sentences! I didn’t know the poem was incomplete. What stands out to me is that Z posted his selection of the poem under the title on love and marriage, but these parts only focus on the marriage part and not the – beautiful – love part. Isn’t that slightly weird? For Z who isn’t married or engaged (since his pr engagement anyway) to focus on the part about the meaning of ‘love in marriage’ basically instead of the love part only? Given the picture about two men that accompany the poem and the timing of him posting it, I do believe it to be intended for H. Meaning in this context he would see him as his spouse or at least his ‘one and only’ which we know doesn’t match his current public image with zigi so it strikes me as odd that he singled out lines from the marriage part only…

  6. Genius analysis dear.
    I do believe that Z. Was not ok with Lights Up. But he gave H. the Ok anyway.
    Let me ask you something. Did Z. Do something for H. Birthday this year?

  7. Thanks for sharing this with us dear. This part is really beautiful:
    “Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
    But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
    To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
    To know the pain of too much tenderness.
    To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
    And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
    To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
    To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
    To return home at eventide with gratitude;
    And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise
    upon your lips.”

  8. I think it’s good that Harry doesn’t label his sexuality because it seems to me that when people do, that label tends to become their identity, when it really shouldn’t – a person’s identity is so much deeper than who they’re attracted to! Yet in ‘Lights Up’ he says, “do you know WHO you are” … and during his Capital JBB performance of ‘Golden,’ he added the lyric ‘I’m hoping someday I’m open,’ so maybe he’s still sorting some of this out in his own mind … I just hope he knows that ‘who he IS’ and ‘who he LOVES’ are two separate things…the first is his core identity, and the second is just his sexual orientation. Hope this comment made sense 🙂

  9. Thank you for posting this. I read this book when it first came out and it is definitely one of the most important books that I have ever read and these two chapters have guided me throughout all my life snd loves. It’s is important to understand the full context. I was going to say the same thing about this poem but now I don’t have to. ♥️

  10. if light up mean to harry that he love men too or is attract to men in general that good because he know his truth.but what that mean to zayn?in all these years has he been attract to other men? is he attract to harry because he love him ?even tho the ”no labels” is like a trend now questioning whether you feel attract to girls , boys , aliens or to nothing is normal and important.if z hadn’t have this conversation with himself and push it back so … z quote ”i don’t wanna make headlines and lose”, what is z truth then?that he love harry and harry only? you can’t respond positively to somebody if you are confused and hadn’t respond to yourself and i’m somehow happy z sing about his confusion and wont engage in anything with h without making point with himself

    1. Yes I agree I am glad to see Zayn being so self-reflective in NIL, and of course I hope for him to get to a healthy place as an individual before he ventures off trying to please anyone else, whether that be Gigi or Harry or his family or society in general.

  11. First of all,I find absolutely,resolutely foolish that a race would determine someone’s mental health.Yes white people are privileged,yes a brown Pakistani man would face racism & islamophobia and people calling him t*rrorist,but he didn’t have to face homophobia on national & international television,did he?
    Not to diminish Zayn’s mental struggles,being a brown,unlabelled & closeted woman suffering from ED & anxiety since before my adolescence,and frequent panic attacks, I can fathom how much Zayn’s been through,but that doesn’t allow me to say that someone else has gone through less,does it?
    Even if someone is extremely privileged,they can go from equal torment and issues.Just because someone can put up a facade better,doesn’t mean that everything is fine, yeah?
    No one should ever be allowed to compare mental struggles.Mental struggles are equal for everyone,not this race bullshit.

    1. Yes I agree, mental health should never be discounted based on someone’s race. Unfortunately many people still do it. I think they are ignorant and young and misled. I just hope those people learn that race and socio-economic status does not render someone problem-free or save them from mental illness.

  12. The Zelfie! Makes perfect sense…everything you said is spot on. I too feel bad for Zayn but only to a point. He creates his own misery. As you said it would be less harmful to him if he were true to himself and Harry rather than to keep living this fake PR life with Gigi. The truth shall set you free! Great stuff as always. Thank you ❤

    1. Hey dear, thanks for reading. I just hope that if Zayn is as conflicted as he expresses in this last album, he puts GIGI in check and takes time to think about who he is and what he really wants to convey to the world. You can’t say no one is listening and allow a massive glaring PR circus to continue to go on with someone literally speaking for you and presenting a picture of you to the world that you don’t even seem to agree with. I just don’t get it.

  13. Amazing read!!! First that picture of Harry on the back of the motorcycle in that red glow feels so good and liberating. With all that Harry and Zayn have gone thru, I hope they get to a point where they can feel that free.
    It’s so sad thking of Harry sitting in a daze with his mom hugging him, and knowing that his mom knows why and all she could just do is hug him breaks my heart. No one ever wants to see their child in pain and not able to help. That got me thking….I wonder if Zayns mom knows? It’s hard enough to be alone and go thru finding/excepting ones(zayn) true self and being open to a life that makes him truly happy and for the first time without fear. I hope he has at least his mom to talk with.

    1. You’re so right. I’m still haunting by the imagery of Harry’s mom holding him while he becomes despondent and entranced during Landslide. It hurts so much. I know Zayn has a great relationship with his mom, but I wonder if she knows too, or if she is someone he can go to as far as his truest identity. Idk, I really hope so.

  14. Thank you AD for your relentless work. You keep me avidly waiting for your next one.
    I’m an older man who wants Harry and Zayn to be together. I’m hoping it finally happens.
    Again, thank you.

    1. Awe thanks love for reading all this. And I understand how you feel. Zarry brings people together of all gender, ages, races, professions etc because we are all human at heart and this story is just irresistible and too good to look away. And of course we all hope the best for them and pray for their happiness.

  15. I love Lights Up. I think it’s liberating. I think this is a big part of their problem now. They are both in two different places mentally. One wants to be free and one is not ready. Their love story at this point is a beautiful yet tragic romance. I hope I do get to witness them both bring open at some point in this lifetime.

    1. I agree with you so much. The story is just a beautiful tragedy. I hope they get their happy ending, but they often seem to be on different pages in the story.

  16. Great read. Just a quick comment about Kacey and Harry. IMO she is another example of someone in H’s circle or acquaintances that G tries to claim as her “sister” or “bestie”. Can you do a video on the common relationships H and G have? Not Taylor (that’s too obvious). I often times feels she won’t challenge H but she will try to pull whatever he has to her to try to 1-up him.

  17. Wow. I absolutely LOVE this song by Harry sm and was very curious what you would do with this post, and I’m definitely not disappointed. Sure I got a little triggered when you explained the answer zelfie (you know the centric Nike logo was what made me think the ‘I got your back, I’m on your side’ ‘just do it’ Z showed his face) but in context of the post tracklist behavior… it would add up – which is such a sad sad situation… even if he was in some way not only trying to protect himself (understandably btw I get that, for the pressed people: this is not an attack, I would never) but actually H himself; nobody should keep you from living your truth especially since you both know more than anyone the toll it has taken on your mental health. I’m so proud of H to have taken that step because I truly believe that for H the biggest consequence – among many that people coming out unfortunately have to deal with – of being openly bi would be losing his big love (whereas for Z he seems to have so many more concerns that he takes drastic steps to avoid it) and for H to still put himself and his mental health (finally) first by being loud with this song is something worth celebrating. Ugh this is getting way too long – nothing like your post btw which I wished never ended, please never apologize for the length we’re totally here for it! Just have to say that your take on the poem to me at least seems the only correct way to interpret it and lastly I hope with all my heart that the neon red glow was tempting enough for Z to now follow up on ‘tightrope’… more than anything or anyone for himself 🥺

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts love. I especially like the way you illustrated the idea that Zayn stepped out onto the Tightrope to follow Harry. I can agree with that. That’s beautiful and heartbreaking.

  18. Girl, so many thoughts. I agree, Zayn looked pissed in that Selfie from Oct 5, 2019. I knew something was gonna happen, I just knew. Now, so many thoughts. Harry was, is and will always be the most courageous person because he chose himself over his relationship, his career etc. Harry is more settled in that sense. He deserved all the accolades this gorgeous album is getting. He sang Lights Up live with such conviction, I always got that sense that this song was really special to him. As it should be. Now for the mess called Zarry. Their relationship is a mess. But, the love is still there. Harry stopped speaking after the baby news dropped, he simply stopped. He created this amazing album, and didn’t want to speak about it due to the baby saga. That makes me sad, for him. I am getting the sense that we are STILL missing a large chunk of what the late 2018 break up involved. Zayn seems so devastated by this event, or events, that occurred that we don’t have any idea, what actually took place. I do believe that Zayn is getting there. Sometimes self loathing occurs, and it’s clear, Zayn is just discovering himself. Look at the lyric progression from MOM to NIL, the later let’s us know that. He is in a different place from the beginning to the end of that album. This is a great, great post, long yes, but it needed to be. I have too many additional thoughts on this, but this isn’t the place for that. ThanKs, A.D

    1. In addition to the problems they faced at the end of 2018, I think Harry’s time, self-reflection and self-acceptance he experienced in Japan set him on a different path. I think the beautiful butterfly we see now was there all along but hidden, and that, plus revealing a relationship with a man was too much for Z to handle. Z is not able to articulate any of this. I was listening to Justin Beiber’s Lonely and he is clearly able to tell us why he feels nobody is listening to him. Z is not as clear. He is only able to tell us Nobody is Listening but he can’t expand to tell us why he feels that way. His mind is a prism shape and at times in a prison state. As I’m writing this I think it is more than just coming out of the closet. I think Z’s mental state has him trapped in there. I’m beginning to ramble so I’m going to stop here.

    2. Hey Dawn! Great observations as always. I agree NIL does seem like a step in the right direction, no matter how relentlessly Gigi tries to deflect from that. I just hope she doesn’t kill Zayn’s courage or his resolve to do right by himself and right by Harry.

      1. I’m hoping Zayn continues to surprise us, but at what end? I feel like Harry has shoved his ass back in the closet, but time will tell. They will still be the death of us, I’m sure.Great Job.

  19. I entirely agree that Lights Up sounds like a conversation between H and Z. I can almost imagine Z telling H “I’m sorry btw” for his unwillingness to take their relationship out into the open. I can also hear him say that it would “be so sweet if things just stayed the same “ I can also hear H pretty much just lay it out there that he’s made up his mind that he’s going to live his truth. I can also hear him telling Z that “people already know who you are, do you know who you are!” It definitely sounds like it was one of those ‘Come to Jesus’ kind of talks lol

    1. Lol this is a perfect way to describe the vibes of Lights Up for people struggling with accepting their identity. A “come to Jesus” moment. Thank you!

  20. Wow you’re right that was long, but very informative.. So thank you so much for this website and all the work you’re put into it.. Lots of love..

  21. First, thank you, A.D.- your incisive mind, passion and shared obsession are getting me through, and I know I’m not alone. Right with you and here for it all. Second, seeing the Zelfie in this context, it jumped out at me (likely behind thousands of others) that the Nike logo Zayn’s wearing is the message: Just Do It.

    And I sure wish they would…

    1. Thank you so much for this insightful analysis. Yes , l also thought the song lyrics are reminiscent of a conversation he may have had with Harry . Which brings me to Zayn’s song FRESH AIR , ( I.F) which also reads like a conversation where Zayn states that he and his person “have differences “ . You outlined how both of them seem to be viewing their relationship with each other . I really liked the analysis you made of Zayn’s poem tattoo. Do you have any views on Fresh Air? Do you think it’s self reflective like Calamity or do it could it have been based on a conversation ?

  22. This hit me hard. Your words always make me emotional. This song is absolutely one of my favourites and is the one I couldn’t wait to hear live on tour. I wonder how the things would have turned out in the long term if Harry hadn’t drop the song on that date. Maybe Zayn wouldn’t have turned back to G, who knows? Either way I’m soooo proud of Harry and I adore his strength and in my opinion this was the right decision. He deserves to be true to himself even if that means hurting others, because there’s nothing more important than self love. There is this video of him performing it live (link below) that melts my heart and I really watch it almost everyday. That smile of him makes it all worth it. I hope they figure everything out and I hope Harry is happy for the rest of his life no matter what happens because he truly deserves it.

    1. Wow you pose a really interesting question about how things may have turned out if Harry never dropped Lights Up. That’s deep. I dare not think of it. That link made me so emotional. Thanks for sharing it. Btw thanks for reading this! 🙂

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