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Harry Styles's debut single gets thumbs-up from fans and his One Direction bandmates

Harry will perform the song for the first time on Saturday Night Live in the US.

Niall Horan and Liam Payne have praised One Direction bandmate Harry Styles’s debut solo single – which has been called everything from “boring” to “Bowie-esque”.

Harry debuted Sign Of The Times on the radio on Friday morning following fevered anticipation about how the track would sound.

The 23-year-old compared airing the single, which shot straight to the top of the iTunes chart, to “giving birth”.

Niall, who like One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson and ex-bandmate Zayn Malik, has previously released solo material, joined millions of Twitter users in congratulating Harry.

Liam also shared his thoughts in a message shared on Twitter.

Harry had told Nick Grimshaw’s Radio 1 breakfast show: “I hope people like it.

“It’s a bit weird. I feel like I’ve been hibernating in the studio for so long and you hear it in the safety of the studio, and now it’s time to give birth.”

Fans gushed on Twitter, with plenty obviously praising him for his new effort.

Music reviewers were more restrained.

The Telegraph’s Alice Vincent called the track “curiously melancholic” but “a little boring”.

She wrote: “Sign Of The Times is a mournful, end-of-an-era ballad that lays down a breadcrumb trail for those ardent fans desperate to know his feelings about being in One Direction.”

Roisin O’Connor wrote in The Independent: “It’s going to take something bigger than this one track to assert Styles as a serious artist.

“The feeling by the end of Sign Of The Times is that he listened to Life On Mars once too often before heading into the studio.”

The Sun’s Dan Wootton praised the single, saying it was a “soaring, epic rock ballad that sounds like a cross between David Bowie and Lana Del Ray”.

Tim Jonze wrote in The Guardian: “If it is indeed Bowie-esque, then it’s the Bowie of Hunky Dory rather than Bowie the drug-ravaged aesthete of the 70s.”

He added: “As a credible piece of indie-pop balladry that moves Styles into a new arena, I’d say he just about pulls it off.”

The heartthrob said he had been focusing on his music and his role in new movie Dunkirk, and neglecting his personal life.

“I haven’t dated in a long time really because I went away to do the movie, then did the album,” he told Radio 1.

Asked what he had to offer women, the pop star, who has a love of scented candles – even taking one on tour – joked: “I have a couple of candles left still.”

In a separate interview with Capital’s Roman Kemp, Harry said One Direction could reunite, adding: “It was a huge part of our lives.”

The new ballad includes the cryptic lyrics: “Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times. Welcome to the final show, hope you’re wearing your best clothes.”

Harry will perform the single, which shares the same name as the Prince album and could boot Ed Sheeran off the top of the charts, for the first time on Saturday Night Live in the US.

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