Harry Styles might've singlehandedly saved 2020 with his latest music video. The cinematography, the outfits, the NAILS!!! There are so many questions, comments, and concerns I have about it, but the main takeaway I am presenting you with today is the fish theory.
Starting with the infamous album cover, which is shot with a fish eye lens. There's not much to say about this except for the fact that it could've just been shot like this to look cool, but if it was intentionally shot with a message in mind, then it was genius.
The "message", many believe, pertains to the use of water and fish throughout the videos.
The first music video is the one for Lights Up, which predominantly features Styles in a crowd of people and on the back of a motorcycle, but also cuts to him singing on a dimly lit beach. The video also briefly features a clip of the singer submerged in a pool of pink water.
The water-- and the exit from said water-- can represent the feeling of "drowning" in discomfort and sadness, and this music video seems to serve as a preface for the self-discovery journey that is illustrated in the Fine Line album. After being under cold water for a while, our bodies adjust to the temperature, even if it was shocking upon entry. Leaving the water to face the outside world can be shocking, and can come with many minor annoyances, such as running to a towel or tracking water through the house. The same goes for leaving a sustained state of emotions. After feeling sad or out of place for a while, people tend to become more comfortable with negative feelings, sometimes even finding comfort in their struggles. This album, I believe, represented to Harry Styles the feeling of finally leaving the "water" after years of being underneath it. He was finally putting himself out there, but he had to face the discomfort that initially challenges authenticity. At the beginning of the Fine Line era a little over a year ago, the phrase "Do You Know Who You Are?" was plastered EVERYWHERE. The question is an ode to the line in the song that is that exact phrase. One of the first questions people ask themselves before the go through any sort of awakening or life-altering realization is usually the aforementioned one. As we later discover, Harry's answer to the question is a hard N O✨.
Adore You is the first video to feature the fish, and it's the only one to explicitly feature the fish, but it's the reason fans initially began to dig deeper into the metaphorical meaning behind the videos that accompanied the album. In the video, Harry Styles plays a boy who lives in a somber village filled with superstitious people living mundane lives. Styles' character, The Boy, has a dazzling smile and bright personality, but after years of feeling misunderstood and alienated, The Boy makes plans to walk into the ocean, never to be seen again. As he begins walking into the ocean, he finds a fish stranded ashore. The Boy saves the fish, soon realizing that the fish grows faster than he can keep up with it. Despite the struggle, he continues moving the fish into larger containers until he's unable to find a place large enough to keep it. With the help of the villagers, he releases the fish into the ocean. Sun shines on the normally-somber town, and The Boy smiles. The video ends with The Boy sailing into the ocean, presumably on his journey to self-discovery and happiness.
Watching this video again prompted many high school English teacher-esque responses. I know that it's just a video and I should take it for what it is, but I simply will not!
The Boy's smile in the video represents individualism, a concept that many young adults struggle with. Whether it be how we dress, how we act, or what we do, most people have their "thing" that makes us feel alienated or less than. He finds the fish, who also lived life feeling out of place, and he immediately developed an infatuation with the animal. I think the fish could represent anything, but the theory that it represents his fans is my personal favorite. The fish grows quicker than he can anticipate (an allusion to his fanbase blowing up in support of his solo career???? Maybe???) and he eventually has to release it. When he sees that the fish is free, he finally feels like he can begin his journey to being himself. Personally, I think the fish and the sailing off into the sunset is an analogy- when he realized his music had the capability to save so many others, Styles felt like he deserved to finally try to save himself.
The Falling music video is arguably the most touching, and definitely the most disheartening.The song presents an ode to the sobering reality that comes with discovering one's authentic self. Styles questions who he is and if he's the person he wants to be. The water fills the room that he's in, and eventually he is completely submerged. He's "drowning" in his emotions again, similar to the previous video-- except now, he's letting himself feel everything. Still no fish yet, but this video perfectly embodies the feeling of loneliness that comes with ~soul searching~.
I hate to be that person, but I'm only including Watermelon Sugar for 2 reasons: the color choice & location near the ocean, and Harry Styles in the cropped sweater. For the sake of analysis, I will say this; they chose warmer colors & brighter outfits, which suggests the euphoric feeling that would come with a-if you will- Watermelon Sugar high (ha ha funny). Harry isn't in the water anymore, but next to it, suggesting that while the sadness isn't at the forefront of his thoughts, it still lingers. Also Harry Styles in a cropped sweater. The SOLE reason i don't support Watermelon Sugar erasure is because of the cropped sweater (and also because I feel that all of the aspects of the album play a part in the theory but mainly sweater).
I been waiting for this one... TURN IT UP!!!!
First of all, kudos to the creative team behind this because the way that this video pulls together the rest of them and compliments the other ones is one of the most satisfying things I've ever experienced in my 19 years of existing. This video is pure metaphorical GOLD (no pun intended... or is ittttt)!!!!! The scene (pictured above) where Harry Styles is singing down into the water is one that really led me to believe that the fish message was intended for us, and if not us, then SOMEONE. We see Styles running down the Amalfi Coast with his tattoos flowing in the wind, then we see him dancing on the sidewalk in a Gucci outfit and vans, all while being complimented by the warm tones in the sky. He seems to embrace the water this time, no longer a fearful victim to his own emotions. He is finally free from whatever was burdening him in the past, and it feels like he's offering us a token of his gratitude.
in conclusion, I have spent more time and energy writing an analysis about a theory that could be completely wrong than I have ever spent on a paper for any of my classes (unless you're my professor and you're reading this for some reason, in which case I am joking and I work really really hard on all of my papers always). Whatever the music video means, it brought us new nail color inspiration, curly hair Harry Styles, and a Gucci outfit to obsess over until the singer posts a picture in a new one. I have no idea who or what the fish is, but regardless of the deeper meaning, I am so glad said fish exists.
^Me when I spend longer writing an article about Harry Styles than i did on my homework