Harry Styles Matilda
Source: Getty Images

Who Is "Matilda" About? Harry Styles' Emotional Track Has Deeply Moved Fans

Michelle Stein - Author
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May 20 2022, Published 1:39 p.m. ET

On May 20, 2022, Harry Styles dropped his highly-anticipated third album titled "Harry's House." Fans of the former One Direction bandmate immediately started looking into the meanings behind a few of the songs — including one called "Matilda." Specifically, they wondered: Who is "Matilda" about?

Keep reading to learn about what Harry has said about the track, as well as fan theories, and what the lyrics mean.

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Who is "Matilda" about in Harry Styles' new album "Harry's House"?

OK, so Harry hasn't come out and said who, specifically, "Matilda" is about. But that hasn't stopped fans from coming up with their own theories. Some people think "Matilda" could be about Harry's ex-girlfriend, Camille Rowe. The couple dated for about a year before breaking up in 2018.

In 2019, Camille portrayed a character named Matilda in the film Now Is Everything. So the title of his new song would make sense if it was about her.

Harry Styles
Source: Getty Images
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But what has Harry himself said about "Matilda" so far? During an Apple Music interview with Zane Lowe, he shared that the track is actually about another person's experience and not one he's personally gone through.

He summed up its meaning with: "I wanna support you in some way. But it's not necessarily my place to make it about me; cause it's not my experience. Sometimes it's just about listening. I hope that's what it did,I hope it just says 'I was listening to you.'"

Harry went on to make the connection from his song "Matilda" to the character Matilda from the famous Roald Dahl novel, which was made into a movie back in 1996. “Imagine Matilda grown up," he told Zane.

When he was asked if the person the song is about would know it's about them, Harry responded with, "No. I think they’ll know.” (So maybe that Camille Rowe theory still holds!)

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What's the meaning of the lyrics in "Matilda" by Harry Styles?

"Matilda" has elicited emotional responses from a number of Harry Styles fans. Many have also pointed out how jarring it was for Harry to put two back-to-back songs ("Little Freak" and "Matilda") that tugged at listeners' heartstrings — only to follow them up with a track ("Cinema") that made them want to get up and dance.

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So what's the meaning of the lyrics in "Matilda" anyway? One person declared via Twitter, "Harry Styles wrote 'Matilda' for first born daughters. This seems like a fair assessment in some cases. But there's more to it.

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The first verse of "Matilda" goes:

"You were riding your bike to the sound of 'It's No Big Deal'

And you're trying to lift off the ground on those old two wheels

Nothing 'bout the way that you were treated ever seemed especially alarming till now

So you tie up your hair and you smile like it's no big deal"

This is followed by the chorus:

"You can let it go

You can throw a party full of everyone you know

And not invite your family 'cause they never showed you love

You don't have to be sorry for leaving and growing up, mhm"

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Essentially, the lyrics are giving Matilda permission to not have a relationship with her toxic family because they never treated her right. And even if she never truly realized the trauma until she was an adult, she is not obligated to continue including them in her life.

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In the second verse, Harry acknowledges that it's not his decision to make, but that Matilda truly doesn't deserve the pain she's feeling. It goes:

"Matilda, you talk of the pain like it's all alright

But I know that you feel like a piece of you's dead insidе

You showed me a power that is strong еnough to bring sun to the darkest days

It's none of my business, but it's just been on my mind"

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Back to chorus, this time expanded to encourage Matilda to rid herself of any lingering guilt:

"You can let it go

You can throw a party full of everyone you know

And not invite your family 'cause they never showed you love

You don't have to be sorry for leaving and growing up

You can see the world, following the seasons

Anywhere you go, you don't need a reason

'Cause they never showed you love

You don't have to be sorry for doing it on your own"

Here's the emotional bridge:

"You're just in time, make your tea and your toast

Framed all your posters and dyed your clothes, ooh

You don't have to go

You don't have to go home

Oh, there's a long way to go

I don't believe that time will change your mind

In other words I know they won't hurt you anymore as long as you can let them go"

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Finally, the song ends with another iteration of the chorus:

"You can let it go

You can throw a party full of everyone you know

You can start a family who will always show you love

You don't have to be sorry for doing it on your own

You can let it go

You can throw a party full of everyone you know

You can start a family who will always show you love

You don't have to be sorry, no"

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Early reviews of "Harry's House" have been incredibly positive.

“Throughout the album, Styles’ singing is as conversational as his lyrics, making romance feel like a hopeful, at times fragile, dialogue between equals,” Rolling Stone‘s Jon Dolan wrote. “It makes sense that 'Harry’s House' is coming out just as summer bar-patio season is kicking into full swing. This is a Santa Ana summer breeze of a record.”

Of "Matilda," Billboard's Jason Lipshutz describes it as "an affecting ode to a friend who has faced neglect (and potentially worse) from their family and is trying to inch towards adult stability." He continues: "Within the acoustic ballad, Styles listens to the story without inserting himself into it, and encourages as best as he can; that type of restraint works in the song’s favor, and 'Matilda' creates emotional power with its gentle touch."

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