Singer and actor Harry Styles has an amazing style all of his own. It should come as no surprise, then, that his hit song Watermelon Sugar is packed with fascinating references to quirky, post-apocalyptic literature and is filled with figurative euphemisms.
This cute little bop is deceptive in that it sounds like an adorable ode to summertime. When you listen more closely, though, you’ll likely find that the lyrics seem to have a hidden meaning.
If you’ve been scratching your head over the Watermelon Sugar song meaning, then you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re going to chop this one up to find all the sweet secrets it’s hiding.
Styles co-wrote this strange and surprising song with Mitch Rowland, Tyler Johnson, and Tom Hull. The four of them drew inspiration from a novel published in the 1960s. In fact, the name of the book gave them the idea for the title of the track, which was In Watermelon Sugar. It’s a 1968 novel by Richard Brautigan.
The story takes place in a commune called iDEATH, where people are living and gathering in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Everything in the novel comes across in the first-person point of view from a narrator who appears to be a kind of investigative journalist covering the iDEATH community.
In the book, “watermelon sugar” refers to the primary building material that is used to make most of the things in the iDEATH house. Every day in this destroyed world is characterized by different colors, which affects the color of the watermelons. That means the building itself goes through visual changes, as well.
It’s a somewhat trippy examination of the hippie communes of the decade, filled with mystery and intrigue. But how much of this story appears in the song?
Interestingly, the post-apocalyptic landscape of the novel is not part of this track at all. Instead, the title alone is what gave Styles and his team inspiration for a whole new theme. That means there is no communal gathering of people trying to survive after the end of the world as we know it. There’s no iDEATH, and there’s no unusual building material pulled from watermelons.
Instead, the entire song appears to be a beach romp. Yep, that’s pretty much all there is to it. Well, not exactly. There is a little bit more going on.
The track may not have quite the same depth as the novel that inspired the title, but the lyrics are packed with euphemisms and references.
They seem to refer to the thrill of new love and the excitement of a sexual encounter. Some have wondered whether Styles chose the In Watermelon Sugar novel title as an additional reference to his ex-girlfriend, who liked the book, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
The Music Video
The music video came out in May 2020, directed by Bradley Bell and Pablo Jones-Soler. It features Styles on a beach in Malibu, enjoying eating watermelon with a group of beautiful people, many of whom are feeding him bites. People have described it as “dreamy” and said they will never be able to look at a watermelon the same way again.
So… what is it about?
When it comes to the meaning, it isn’t something you’d originally expect to be trying to find. However, it’s clear Styles had a lot more in mind than good food for this one.
He said, with a laugh, “It doesn’t really matter what it’s about,” as audiences can have fun with the tune without knowing the background or references. That may be because he wants to make sure no one is uncomfortable with the alternate meaning, but based on the song’s success, he doesn’t have anything to worry about.
For those fans who absolutely must know what it’s about, there are two clear meanings in this song. Styles has said that the track is about “the sweetness of life” and “it’s also about the female orgasm, but that’s totally different.”
That second meaning might not be as hidden as he expected. Writing for Elle, Savannah Walsh wrote that the track seems to depict the singer either “hankering for a refreshing summer treat or talking about cunnilingus.”
Other Interesting Facts About Watermelon Sugar
This track did great when it first came out, hitting the top ten internationally and banging right into the number one spot on the Billboard chart in the United States. It went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance in 2021 and Song of the Year at the Brit Awards.
It’s a qualified hit that appeals to all sorts of fans. Whether they’re interested in the book, the fun tune, or the depth of the lyrics.
Is Watermelon Sugar an NSFW song?
It doesn’t have to be. If your kids are dancing around to this one in the living room, you don’t have to worry. It can absolutely be about the joy of eating delicious watermelon on a hot summer’s day.
However, if you’re a fan of reading between the lines to find figurative meanings, then it does have a more adult meaning to discover. But that’s part of the joy of poetry and songs. They can have two messages at once, and the one that appeals to you best is the right one for you.
This award-winning bop is the perfect summer tune for beach days—or intimate nights. That’s one of the reasons Watermelon Sugar appeals to everyone. It started with a strange reference to a wild novel from the psychedelic 1960s. From there, we get an upbeat, fun dance beat that’s fun for the whole family. And, finally, we find there is a deeper message hidden within the subtext. On a figurative level, this is a celebration of sexual freedom and shared fun.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.