Harry Styles
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The Inspiration Behind "Watermelon Sugar" Isn't What You Expected


Mar. 15 2021, Updated 1:20 p.m. ET

You'd have to have quite literally been living under a rock to have never heard Harry Styles' 2019 hit track "Watermelon Sugar." The chart-topping pop track's whimsical lyrics and catchy tune captivated countless fans worldwide upon its release and is still a radio mainstay over a year since its first debut.

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However, not many know the true meaning behind "Watermelon Sugar" and how Harry actually came up with the concept for the massive hit. So, what's the story of one of the biggest additions to the former One Direction member's discography? Here's a breakdown of his process.

watermelon sugar meaning
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The true meaning of "Watermelon Sugar" isn't about a past lover — it's a book reference.

During his Tiny Desk Concert for NPR in May 2020, Harry got candid about the history of "Watermelon Sugar." He explained that the common misconceptions of the song being about a past lover are a far reach from the true origin of the title. In fact, the song was just a loose idea he was messing around with while he was in the studio until a glimpse at a Richard Brautigan book caught his attention.

"I was in Nashville on my day off, and I went into the studio just to kind of play around a little bit and we started some ideas and then I was with the guys who I made the first album with and we had this idea," he led off the explanation by saying.

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What came next was the small, but integral moment that defined the song's existence. "We had this chorus/melody which was pretty repetitive and a Richard Brautigan book, 'In Watermelon Sugar' was on the table and I was like, 'That’ll sound cool,'" Harry explained, confirming that the title was merely a time-and-place reference to a nearby book and nothing more.

watermelon sugar meaning
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Despite being an impulsive choice, Harry spent a lot of time on "Watermelon Sugar."

From his explanation, it seems as though "Watermelon Sugar" almost happened by accident. Regardless of the circumstances of its inception, Harry admitted that it took him the longest out of any song he has ever done to actually complete.

"So this song became 'Watermelon Sugar,'" he said. "It’s probably the longest it’s ever taken me to finish a song. We liked it when we first heard it, then I really hated it for a long time, and then it came back and kept coming back into the mix."

Thankfully, Harry clearly ended up taking a liking to the song and it went on to take on a life of its own, becoming a standout single. That success translated into some serious numbers as well. As of October 2020, it had 936,260 sales and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

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