The Meaning Behind “Heaven” by Niall Horan

To introduce the world to his third solo album, former One Direction member Niall Horan came out swinging with a big, engaging lead single entitled “Heaven.” After Horan teased the song and his album The Show for weeks, “Heaven” finally arrived in its official form in February 2023. Although it wasn’t a runaway success at the charts (except in Horan’s native Ireland, where it soared into the Top 5), it did earn Horan some of the best notices of his solo career.

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It also proved to be an excellent intro to the The Show, which found Horan taking a big artistic leap and defining his sound in a much more sure-handed way. Let’s look at how “Heaven” came to be and what it all means.

Finding Heaven

Horan’s second album, 2020’s Heartbreak Weather, was a somewhat downcast affair, as the title suggests. His efforts to promote the record were hampered by the pandemic, which put the kibosh on a scheduled tour. As a result, he had a little bit more time to ponder and plan what would become The Show.

He intended the album to be a close reflection of who he was at the time of writing and recording. You might argue that most records are that way, but Horan intimated in interviews that Heartbreak Weather was written rather quickly without a lot of forethought. Considering both the extra time afforded him and the natural introspection that comes with entering your 30s, as Horan did in September 2023, it’s understandable that The Show dug a little bit deeper.

In terms of “Heaven,” Horan wrote with his producers John Ryan and Joel Little, along with Tobias Jesso Jr. Jesso is one of the top writers-for-hire in the business, having taken home a Grammy for his work in 2023. The original idea for “Heaven” came from Horan, although, as he told Official Charts, he needed some inspiration to get him past a bit of a block.

“I was singing the first two lines of that chorus for about two or three days!” Horan said. “And then it was like, ‘What is that? Am I singing a lullaby?’ Like, I don’t know what it is. And then, after days of me singing that, one of the lads just started playing the opening guitar and I was like, ‘That’s exactly what it is.'”

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As for what he wanted to say with the song, Horan explained in a statement to Rolling Stone the in-the-moment message: “There’s so much pressure for people to hit certain milestones by a certain age—you get married at this age, buy a house at that age, have kids at some other age. […] But I’ve never conformed to those ideas, and so I wanted to write about how we all should just focus on enjoying our lives and doing what feels right, instead of worrying about what might be expected of us.”

What Is “Heaven” About?

Propelled by a robust rock beat and a buoyant melody, “Heaven” really doesn’t have all that much to do with the afterlife. The title is more about a state of mind and heart the narrator achieves when he’s with his significant other. You can sense the ethereal vibes of this person right from the opening lines uttered by Horan: Strange light revolves around you / You float across the room. The first mention of the title comes in the following couplet: Your touch is made of something / Heaven can’t hold a candle to.

After that, Horan’s comments about the song’s meaning are brought to bear, as the narrator tries to keep things simple, pressures of the world be damned: Let’s not get complicated, he implores. Elsewhere, he testifies to the kind of power this person has over him: Beyond infatuation / How obsessively I adore you. In the lovely little bridge that interrupts the main thrust of the rhythm, he seems to cross a threshold with this relationship that he has never previously reached: I believe, I believe / I could die in your kiss.

In the chorus, Horan admits to a kind of willing ignorance about the future of this relationship: God only knows where this love could go. It’s a little bit reminiscent of George Harrison’s words in The Beatles’ “Something”: You’re asking me will my love grow / I don’t know. But Horan is OK with the unknown, concluding that, If you and me go up in flames / Heaven won’t be the same.

It’s a nice message about letting the chips fall where they may and following a good thing, regardless of the variables that might upend it all. With “Heaven,” Niall Horan displays thoughtful songwriting chops—ironically enough, on a song about not thinking so much.

Photo Credit: Zackery Michael

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