Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Harry Styles – Watermelon Sugar

Pairs well with Sara Lee’s Texas toast…


Alex Clifton:‘Kiwi’ walked so ‘Watermelon Sugar’ could run,” Harry tweeted as a teaser, but I don’t think that’s the best comparison. “Kiwi” is sexy with a harder-rock edge, thrumming with energy that makes me more alive. “Watermelon Sugar” is softer in comparison, a languid summer haze. Which is good! The horns sound great, and if everything Harry releases sounds this easy and good, he’s going to put out one of my favourite albums of the year. But the “Kiwi” comparison is unfounded and set me up for wildly different expectations.

Ashley Bardhan: At times, the tidiness of the production detracts from the raspy scratching of Harry’s hungry berry talk, but the juice of lines like “Tastes like strawberries on a summer evening / …I want your belly” muddies it up again and throws me in. There is wanting in the voice, there are subtle piano underlays, and the “watermelon sugar high / watermelon sugar high” hook is so gummy it will hover under you all day. Anyway, is this about oral sex? 

Katherine St Asaph: And here I thought Justin Timberlake’s “Strawberry Bubblegum” would be the nadir of multisyllabic fruit + sweet confection + unctuous retro showmanship + barely concealed leer + whew, oral!: a subgenre that with few exceptions makes me raspberry hurl. Can’t wait for 2022 and the critically acclaimed yacht-rock hit “Carambola Cronut Frosting” by Jake Paul.

Will Adams: The funk guitar is fine, the bassline is fine, the summery aspirations are fine, the sugary-sweet analogy is… uh, okay. And yet I can’t shake the feeling that this is all just boneless Miguel.

Alfred Soto: Well, good, because fruit is good for you.

Ian Mathers: So, much like the actual fruit, more appealing in the imagination than in the often slightly watery, underwhelming slice you get handed. (In this metaphor, the SNL performance is that rarer, actually satisfying piece that tricks you into thinking you’re a bigger fan of watermelon than most of your experiences would actually suggest.)

Kayla Beardslee: This is much more compelling than “Lights Up.” I’m sure Styles is, in fact, capable of pulling off songs with deeper lyrical substance than “Watermelon Sugar,” but it’s so much easier to sink into his bright instrumentals and raspy voice when his tracks have a simple goal — in this case, summery, euphemistic fun.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Overripe, sweet, and sensual, “watermelon sugar” and “tastes like strawberries on a summer evening” are about as effective as summer loving imagery gets — making it all the more a disappointment that this single is only seeing the light of day as December quickly approaches. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: More convincingly horny/yearning when he’s endlessly repeating the fruit metaphor than on the verses, which are rough. But the arrangement is fun enough to push that wrinkle out of your mind — if you don’t pay much attention, this is a pleasant summer jam stranded in November.

Kylo Nocom: “I want your belly” is odd, but given a similar line in Rhye’s “Open,” it isn’t too incriminating. “Sounds just like a song,” on the other hand, is a simile I’m forcing myself to not think about too much in the context of Harry’s oral fixation. Extra points for the Go! Team horns near the end, but I’m still wondering if he can pull off something that sounds less laborious.

Jackie Powell: This track commences in increments, but it doesn’t accomplish that mission aggressively. It builds while adding new musical elements in transitions between parts of the song’s structure. How brilliant is it to listen to electric and acoustic guitar riffs bounce off and overlap each other? It’s an accomplishment when I can hear each instrument in isolation. Each piece arrives gracefully, and even the manufactured percussion introduced on the pre-chorus is soft enough to make sure this longing-for-summer jam doesn’t turn into a sleeper. It’s ironic that Harry Styles clammed up when he was asked to clarify “Watermelon Sugar.” I understand that he’s still settling into his own skin as a modern-day sex symbol and a prince of sexual fluidity, but his promotional playbook for first single “Lights On” was direct. Styles told Capital FM that “freedom,” “self-reflection” and “self-discovery” were his muse on a track that was released on National Coming Out Day. He wasn’t very discreet. And I point to the irony because the reverse happened on Saturday Night Live when Styles performed both songs. While there’s an argument that “Lights On” is a more difficult song to sing, Styles was much more comfortable singing “Watermelon Sugar” live. His body language and fashion choices were all telling. The songs symbolize the difference between expressing feelings versus thoughts. “Watermelon Sugar” is felt physically and emotionally while “Lights On” is equally cerebral as it is heavy. Both singles successfully seduce as Styles leans into vowels on both tracks. An artist that sings open vowels?? Gasp. Now that gives me a “Watermelon Sugar High.”

Oliver Maier: I like the idea of pop rock revivalist Harry Styles so much that it only disappoints me more when his songs aren’t very good. “Watermelon Sugar” is too starchy to be funky, too nondescript to be glammy, and too generically imagined to be authentically sexy. Also in dire need of melodies worth singing along to. Songs cannot thrive on gusto alone.

Reader average: [4] (2 votes)

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One Response to “Harry Styles – Watermelon Sugar”

  1. Weird that this was released in November, since it’s clearly a summer song.
    Anyways, it comes off as “Moves like Jagger, but with a better arrangement,” and the slower tempo helps that. Otherwise, it still repeats the hook way too much. Would work much better in a group setting, where you can vary vocal timbres.

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