The world can’t get enough of Harry Styles’ “As It Was.” The anthemic, pop gem saw Styles take a new sonic direction—the precursor to what would become his third album, Harry’s House. Since his days as part of One Direction, Styles has been an inimitable force in the pop world but, “As It Was” took things to new heights.
Written alongside frequent collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tayler Johnson, the song sees Styles reckoning with the metamorphosis he experience during the pandemic. Styles said in an interview about the track, “Everything that happened in the pandemic, it’s just never going to be the same as before. All of the things happening in the world, it’s so obvious that it’s just not going to be the same. You can’t go backward, whether that’s us as a people or me in my personal life or any of those things.”
The opening to his first album post-pandemic, the song has seemed to strike a chord with much of the world, as it has broken the record for longest solo No. 1 in history with 15 weeks atop of the charts. The milestone sees Styles surpass Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (1992), Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” (2005), and Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind” (1972).
On Spotify, “As It Was” has been in the Top 5 in the U.S. for 180 days since its release on April 1. Globally, it has been in the Top 10 for 176. But what makes this song so special?
“‘As It Was’ really feels distinct when you look at what else has been on the charts this year,” according to Talia Kraines, Senior Editor US Pop for Spotify. “It’s got a bright, upbeat but somewhat classic sound, driven by organic instrumentation. This blend of influences is one of the reasons we believe the song has worked so well in our playlists.
“Additionally, nostalgia really feels to be dominating 2022, with classic samples and interpolations all over the charts. Harry seems to have tapped into that feeling while creating something totally new, but just as catchy. His constant touring and impressive live show seems to have really helped continue the story this year… after the pandemic it’s amazing to see the power of the live space.”
Jules Parker, Head of Songwriter & Publishing Relations for Spotify, added, “While it obviously doesn’t hurt to have such an engaged fanbase, Harry has also chosen his co-writers and collaborators well. Working together (and consistently) with writer/producers such as Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson – plus Jeff Bhasker earlier in his solo career – has allowed them to develop an individual sound that both fans and casual listeners love. ‘As It Was’ is a song that’s found its way into a huge amount of people’s playlists and has kept them listening consistently since release.”
Whatever it is about “As It Was” that is grabbing so many people’s attention, Styles has an enduring hit on his hands. The song has become a staple in his live shows, with his legions of die-hard fans screaming Go home, get ahead, light-speed internet / I don’t wanna talk about the way that it was, back to the pop star.
We will have to see just how long Styles will reign supreme on the charts but it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.
(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Spotify)