Finally, the "Golden" music video is here, on our screens, for all of us to watch repeatedly. I wasn't sure what to expect out of a video for "Golden". While the lyrics are fascinating and somewhat tragic when you think them all the way through, there isn't a story that screams video in them. We knew it was coming because there were photos that leaked from filming at the end of September. After that, every day was a question of if we were getting graced with a video for "Golden". Fine Line is officially the era with the most music videos, and now it feels like this chapter of Harry's book is starting to close. With a tour still up in the air, "Golden" now feels like the final note. Also, "Golden" is significant because unlike "Adore You" and "Watermelon Sugar" that pushed for song of the summer and chart relevance, "Golden" is likely meant for Grammy promotion, hoping to wow voters in the event he beats getting snubbed again and snags a nom (though how could he not with Stevie Nicks as his new personal PR person).
Going into it, I knew some aspects of the video. We knew he'd be driving a vintage car, running through the streets in an oversized button up, and flying through the water on a speedboat. For some reason, the boat didn't make the final cut, so I'm glad those clips got leaked cause now we have them anyway. There were plenty of new shots and outfits we didn't get a sneak peak of that were extra shocking to see pop up on the screen.
If you're familiar with Harry's work, particularly his music videos, plot is not the name of the game. It's all about the look, the vibe, and the feeling. Visualizing emotions more than translating a literal story (or in the case of Eroda, creating a whole fairytale to execute). Still, his videos are always fascinating spectacles that give the viewer a real impression of vulnerability.
Even with no plot, there has to be a thread that drives it. With "Golden", we find that in the running shots. The video opens with Harry as a silhouette running through a traffic tunnel. When the swell in of the music hits with a "hey", we get the first glimpse of Harry in a new outfit, a blue suite that is excellent. This is the first instance of the videographer playing on the production quirks in "Golden", which is a cool choice because the song is so unique and full of weird moments and accents. Also, this is the first glimpse of the concept that each different outfit Harry wears showcases a different part of his personality.
We quickly flash back to Harry running again. This time he's on a trail of sorts in the woods, and he's barreling down the path fast. He seems to stumble at times and stick his arms out like he's trying to slow himself down. His button down is way too big and flapping in the wind. Interestingly, it's not really buttoned at the top or bottom. Like someone only did the middle two buttons. He's also in a pair of flowy board shorts and some canvas sneakers. The camera moves from a wide view to zooming in on his face. Sometimes he's lip synching. Sometimes, he's just trying to run.
Then, there's a couple second flash, back to blue suite Harry. You can see him mouthing one of the quick "dahs!" and his crochet gloved hand chops down in an oddly aggressive moment. Blue suite Harry is quite expressive and a bit goofy.
As the song actually starts, we go back to running Harry and start getting some new cut-ins featuring driving Harry. I still can't decide if Harry is desperately running to or away from something. I'm thinking it's to because he doesn't seem afraid. There is an interesting mood change, though, between running Harry and driving Harry. Running Harry has a desperation about him. He's moving fast and has an enthusiasm. When driving Harry sings to himself, it seems almost like a quiet mumble. He seems more serene. Or, if not calm, he's resigned that he's not going to make it where he's going or doesn't need to rush to get there. There's still a laser sharp look in his eye. It feels like driving Harry knows something that running Harry hasn't quite grasped yet.
When the chorus hits in, we got back to exuberant, blue suite Harry who's mouthing and motions are so exaggerated, he almost feels like a mime. It feels appropriate that this Harry is the one who dominates the chorus. It's so bright and happy sonically, and they express that here. In this stretch, Harry dances in his suite down this hillside road. He does a bit of his signature goofy, stage, backwards walk dancing that usually only comes out during live performances. We also get a closer look at the outfit in this section. He's in a light blue, double breasted jacket that's super well tailored. His button up is white with light blue stripes. And his trousers look wool to me with an interesting gray scale pattern. Again, everything fits perfectly. It's accessorized with a necklace that boarders on choker. He's happily singing the "dah dahs" between each hilarious, dad-like dance move. But it works because it looks like he's having a genuinely great time, and he exudes pure confidence.
Heading into the second verse, we get another new scene. The cameras in the water staring up at Harry creating a bit of a warped look reminiscent of the "Falling" music video. This section is mostly based in the water where Harry is shirtless and in blue and white swim trunks. It's so rare to see all of Harry's tattoos nowadays. There's also a funny cut in here when the music makes a bit of a piano trill sound and we cut back to blue Harry moving his fingers down with the notes. It's a cute interjection. Then there's this montage of Harry swimming, more running, and then we go back to driving again on this pretty, cliff-side road. At one point, he runs past an old lady on the sidewalk and gives her a salute, which is really cute. The video has that fun levity to it that seems to have carried through most of the videos from the Fine Line era. My favorite part of the "Lights Up" video is at the end where he smiles and sticks his tongue out to the camera that breaks the tension in the most spectacular way. In this montage, there's also a flash of Harry on a rock in the water with his arms stretched wide that is spectacular, but a blink and you'll miss it moment. It goes by so fast, you can't even pause on it in YouTube. It's the perfect example of how many tiny moments are baked into the video.
This set of shorts continues, but the cuts start to get longer and longer again. The running is fun, and we get to see Harry in blue strolling the streets. I think my favorite parts are Harry in the water because there's something about those clips that reminds me of younger, 1D era Harry that has a fun, youthful, open element that I love. At the end, when the song breaks down into the bridge with the rising "golden, golden, golden" bits, we get a new look, Harry in giant, flowy trousers, shirtless with a fisherman's hat on. And, in the edit, they've made it so he jumps between standing on a bunch of different rocks in time with the music. He's looking at himself through a glass orb, he's in the water, and in the suite messing with his gloves. There's an interesting introspective vibe to the bridge that fits the song well. He's singing and bopping his head along and raising his arms up to the sky. It feels like he's doing yoga, even though there isn't room on the rocks for proper poses. We transition out through a maze of quick cuts and back into the final chorus which appropriately starts with Harry running again.
This time, he's running away from the camera in a hurry. We follow him dashing through the city streets and around the turn. This is front view of the footage that got leaked. He's determined and it looks like all the running is starting to catch up with him cause he loses the words at times. Also, through this whole thing, the cross necklace he's always wearing beats up and down against his chest. It's kind of mesmerizing to watch it fly around. The video closes with Harry in the suite flipping around to lean up against a car parked at the street, staring flirtatiously inside with his dirty, canvas Van covered foot kicked up behind him. It's also the first glimpse of his nail polish, which is appropriately silver and yellow in an alternating, paint chipped fashion. You can see the person on the inside is excitedly waving both hands at him.
In the final shot, Harry finally giving up his chase, slowing to a walk as the car the camera is situated in starts to speed away from him. It's hard to tell what he's feeling beyond exhaustion from the epic chase. He seems excited and joyful talking to the people through the windshield, but that version of Harry has always been happy in the video. The running character doesn't seem upset. More like a bit lost. Like he's letting go of everything he's ever known.
Overall, I really enjoyed the video. It was super cute, I loved the fashion choices, there were so many light moments, and it just felt like Harry. I also love this being the final video of the era and sort of the bow that ties it all together. There were hits back to every other music video and note of the era, whether in a particular look or scene or just in an emotional feeling that carried through. Also, this video embodies Fine Line so well in the exact same way that "Lights Up"'s video does. It's flashes, looks, and moments, but it hits the emotional chords. There's exuberance and new love. There's an element of confidence, finding yourself, and loving yourself. There's a freedom to be goofy in between the darker moments. And there is that quite ominous undertow of sadness that we all experiences. Maybe there's not a clear plot that you could write in the storybook sense, but he does deliver a tale. A character arch and an arrival at an understanding through this era. And I love that all of these videos have Harry at their core. They're about his growth, his feeling, and him maturing and understanding himself better at a human being. Sometimes that's helped through relationships, but those encounters aren't the main line. It's a great bookend that matches with "Lights Up" to close out the era. At the end, the car drives away, and there's an eerie finality. Almost exactly a year after this all began, he's finally letting it go. It's fully ours now. There's no more artist there, manipulating meanings or adding to the narrative. He's free to move on to the next. And we're free to write our own stories overtop of his.
The Fine Line era meant a lot to me. I found Harry at one of my lowest moments, and the thrill of watching the era take shape gave me something to wake up for every morning. As the year has gone on and Harry has disappeared off the face of the earth more and more, I've found other artists who are more present that I follow more closely now. But that fandom gave me a home on the internet and support when I needed it. We solved clues and puzzles together, speculated about music videos, and reminisced with each other. The "Do You Know Who You Are" website messages are still the backgrounds of my computer and my phone. Hopefully, one day, I'll get to see Harry on stage from the pit and have my experience come full circle, but the fandom gave me what I needed when I needed it, and Harry did too. He was grappling with an immense amount of success at a young age and the fear that it wouldn't translate to standing on his own. He makes music that would be more at home in the '70s than on conventional pop radio. He was figuring out his identity and sexuality away from the press built image of girl chaser and teen heartthrob that had been wrongfully plastered all over him. And a lot of people didn't get it. The new outfits, the new sound, the nail polish. But so many of us did, and this era has seen his fanbase grow so much. It's seen him clench the worldwide recognition he let go of ever recapturing after his first album. Fine Line has solidified his place among rock stars while gathering up the pop fans and the misfits and the grown up 1D girls and little kids and rock and roll fans of the past. He's gained the respect he's deserved from the beginning and retained the love he's always had. And that's the real story of the Fine Line era. That's its brilliance, and that's why it will be forever iconic. At least to me.
I can't wait to see where he goes next.
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