Harry Styles has been making waves with his debut single “Sign of the Times,” but after his appearance on Saturday Night Live, it looks as though its his second single, “Ever Since New York,” that’s claimed the spotlight.
When Styles released the tracklist of his upcoming album on Thursday, fans were immediately drawn to the title “Ever Since New York” and the subject matter it implied. For many, the assumption was that the song would address his relationship with fellow pop star Taylor Swift in New York in 2012. Given that Swift had written about the former One Direction singer in the past (“Out of the Woods“), it would make sense that he would return the favor. But now that Styles has premiered the song, are the rumors about Swift true?
It’s complicated. While the opening lyrics on “Ever Since New York” could allude to a relationship gone awry, with lines like “Choose your words ’cause there’s no antidote/ For this curse or what’s it waiting for/ Must desert you just before you,” the song’s second verse delves into territory that seems to go beyond the brief tabloid romance. Styles goes on to evoke imagery of isolation, confusion, and, like his previous single, an apocalyptic flair: “Brooklyn saw me, empty avenues/ There’s no water inside this swimming pool/ Almost over, that’s enough from you/ I’ve been praying, I never did before/ Understand I’m talking to the walls/ And I’ve been praying ever since New York.”
On their lyric page, Genius points out the numerous references to the Bible, particularly in the line “You can’t bribe the door on your way to the sky.” One contributor went a step further with this thesis, saying that Styles’ “inability to talk with others has caused him to feel alone and begin praying or attempting reach God. This was likely an important point in his life, as religion is a large part of his life. He has gotten a cross tattoo and a tattoo of the Bible, and often wears necklaces displaying the cross.”
So while it seems as though Swift isn’t the central focus of “Ever Since New York,” perhaps the song’s true focus will become clear when Styles’ self-titled album is released on May 12th. Watch his SNL performance below.