Let’s talk a little more about song placement. “Golden” was chosen to be Track #1 on the album, despite it not being the first song he wrote for the album (it was Watermelon Sugar) Why did Harry choose to place “Golden” first? We explored this above, where he said it was mostly intuitive and the decision was made the instant he and his team finished the song.
However, in my opinion, it was also placed first because it establishes who and what the album is about in a more fastidious way than Harry will ever get credit for. It’s sort of like the exposed tip (get your minds out of the gutter!) of an unraveling thread seated deep within an immense tapestry that encapsulates their relationship. The more you pull at it and follow it and dissect it, the more raw truth is disclosed.
It contains a multitude of hints about his muse (Easter Eggs, so to speak) that must be unpacked one by one, and that will later be interspersed in repetition throughout the album. He plants the seeds for them in the first song, such as sun references, brown skin references, his fear of being alone, his obsessions, the struggle to be open about their relationship and to coming to terms with their sexuality, and his lover’s ongoing reluctance to be with him.
The intro to “Golden” is our first Easter Egg. It mirrors Zayn’s “Entertainer” (in its own key and with a different instrument, but all the same, the parallel is mindblowing.) Just as he did with using Zayn’s release date for Icarus Falls (Dec 13th vs Dec 14th) Harry is not-so-subtly telling us he knows “Entertainer” is about him. It’s. So. Freaking. Clever. It’s such a flex too. He’s just like, yup, that was written about me, but I don’t care, I’m here to prove my love is real and has always been real regardless of what you say.
I just adore how Harry takes ownership of his role in inspiring such an acrimonious tune, whether or not he actually did any of the things Zayn wants to accuse him of (I believe a lot of Harry’s perceived wrongs were reasonably done in the course of Zayn’s ongoing rejection and abandonment of him) and he does it in such a playful, smug way at the beginning of “Golden.” Damn I love this bastard. (I have a video coming up discussing more about this Easter Egg.)
Now let’s talk lyrics. Ugh, the specificity!!! Many Easter Eggs found here too!
Get it? It’s all very deliberate on Harry’s part. That’s what makes it unbearably romantic. Zayn says “I hope and I hope…” so Harry makes it clear that without Zayn there is no hope. “I’m hopeless.”
Then Zayn says “I hope you’ll still be fine.” And Harry’s like, nope. Can’t be. Won’t be. Not without you. He goes “I’m hopeless…broken…”
It doesn’t get anymore direct than this lyrical connection above. Harry is depicting himself literally following Zayn’s instructions by looking through the golden light. I can’t deal. Harry just wanted him back. He wanted to be returned to the light of what they had before Zayn left in 2015. And I believe he pursued Zayn and they did go back to what they had after 1D ended. Read more about my personal theory on the Zarry timeline Harry exposed in Fine Line here:
“I can fee you take control…I can feel you take ahold…of who I am and all I’ve ever known. Loving you’s the antidote.” Harry feels like Zayn is the answer to the brokenness he feels. In some ways this is true, since Zayn and their failed relationship is undoubtedly the reason he is broken. As far as the remainder of the lyric, I believe it is indicative of just how much of an impact Zayn had on his life during his formative years, and how Zayn helped to shape the man he ultimately became. Therefore he finds Zayn at the root of who he is as a person, as well as in all the things he has ever learned. Clearly this is some good old fashioned hyperbole (my favorite!) being employed to express how much this person means to him.
Likening one’s lover to the sun is so Shakespearean and so very Harry at this point!
Referring to his lover as the sun is a reoccurring theme found throughout Fine Line, and I believe it is Harry’s way of adopting Zayn’s concept for his second album, Icarus Falls. In the classic Greek Myth, Icarus falls to his death and drowns because he flew too close to the sun, refusing to heed the warnings of his father to maintain a balanced mindset free of arrogance and complacency in life.
However, Harry has transformed the meaning into one depicting a perilous romance and perhaps too much reverence. He has fallen as a result of his relationship with someone he likens to the sun—the light of his life—someone he knows he ought to stay away from for the sake of his own well-being, but cannot live without. This is his metaphorical sun who browns his skin, his sunshine, his sunflower, his golden love (all these things are taken from Fine Line btw.) It’s syrupy sweet and unabashedly romantic, but hey that’s Harry Styles for ya!
There is a more detailed breakdown of the Icarus Falls Easter Egg in this video below at 15:41:
Moving on to the first of two mentions of “Brown Skin” in this album.
Side Note: Larries try to use this line to argue that he is just referring to tan skin, and therefore it is about Louis. This logic is so pathetic I can’t help but laugh. What they fail to realize is that “Golden” is hands down the most direct Zayn song on this album, apart from “Sunflower Vol 6.” So arguments that this song is about Louis are just an exercise in futility. It doesn’t add up. The only way to try to make this song about Louis is to utterly ignore the blatant Zayn references—and that, my friends, is grossly misleading.
Also, if this song is about Louis, why on earth didn’t Harry name it after one of Louis’ tracks instead of Zayn’s? Furthermore, why on earth didn’t he use any of Louis’ other track titles for other songs instead of using a second one of Zayn’s? Why is he referring to Louis with things that would specifically and overtly refer to Zayn, like Sunflower Vol 6, instead of oh you know, Ugly Stag Tattoo Vol 6? (Wait, let me pull it back and save it for the major debunks I have coming up.)
Also, Harry is not in love with Louis. That’s just a fact of life that needs to be observed. To argue he has feelings for him of any nature at this point is ludicrous and sad. Louis is not a factor in Harry’s album making process (but the reverse is certainly true since it’s the only way for Louis to make people interested in his solo music apparently. His team certainly believe so, and that is a proven fact, hence the exploitative tags on the video about his late mother. and using fan art of Harry’s tattoos to gain him Spotify streams.) As if I’m ever gonna let anyone forget about this shit:
Harry left the band against Louis’ vehement protests and hasn’t looked back since. Meanwhile, he followed Zayn out of the band (hello “Adore You” storyline) and we have proof that he fought with Zayn days before he left and got drunk over him in a bar in Bangkok.
See how it’s perfectly plausible to insist he is singing about Zayn (considering all the wild Zayn implications in Fine Line) and totally implausible to say he is singing about an ex-bandmate who he wasn’t even close to when he left the band??? And hadn’t been remotely even “friends” with for years??? And I loveeeee when they use Harry’s visible discomfort around Louis (like him being physically repelled or any fleeting meaningless glance) as proof of his secret undying love, which he dare not utter.
Righhht…that’s exactly why he left the band immediately following Zayn, instead of staying and being with the one person who desperately wanted to keep the band going. Zayn left because he was mentally ill and had a fight with Harry and was in the middle of a scandal. Harry left simply because Zayn left, despite saying he was still enjoying his time in the band. But they conveniently ignore all of this.
Lastly, to in insist this song is about Louis is an insult to songwriting; an insult to the literary devices Harry meticulously employed; an insult to Harry’s ingenuity; and an insult to real lovers everywhere!
I don’t care how you feel about Louis, you already know how I feel about him, and to say he is unworthy of having any of Harry’s masterful, deeply romantic songs attributed to him would be an understatement—but especially this particular song.
“Golden” is Zayn’s identical track title, and Harry responded to a lyric in Zayn’s “Golden” with identical language. The “brown skin” in this song is used as a part of an extended metaphor, following him calling his lover the sun. His lover is so glorious it burns to be near him.
Then in “Adore You” he fawns and say “YOUR brown skin.” Therefore, the mention of brown skin in “Golden” finds its true utility in being a clever allusion to his lover’s appearance (since Zayn is not literally the sun and Harry doesn’t literally expect his skin to be browned, so it must be seen as a literary device.) There are many other clever descriptions of Zayn’s appearance in this album; including another mention of his lover’s brown skin, and singing about sunflowers, of which Zayn has two!
And it goes without saying, it is nonsensical for Harry to mention brown skin TWICE in a mere 12 track album if his lover was a white person. It is clear he keeps alluding to brown skin because he is fond of it and is celebrating the fact that his lover is a brown person (a.k.a. of South Asian descent.)
When you take into consideration that he used 2 of Zayn’s track titles, directly responded to Zayn’s lyrics, used the anniversary of Icarus Falls to release this album, and wrote a song about his lover’s sunflowers—to deny that the allusions to brown skin are about Zayn demonstrates a hideous lack of intellectual honesty. It makes one sound rather idiotic in my opinion, and I believe Harry wanted it that way.
He is a madman who crafted this album to help people just GET IT ALREADY. In my opinion, he wanted the people who appropriated his music to apply it to Louis in the last album (like they did with “Two Ghosts” and “Sweet Creature”) to feel like morons the second they sat down to unpack or analyze this album. All roads lead to Zayn by design. Even the artificial Camille Rowe road contrived around the song “Cherry” in post production stops short when he dropped “Lights Up” on National Coming Out Day and when you hear the lyric “Don’t blame me for falling, I was just a little boy.”
PAGE THREE: FURTHER ANALYSIS