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Niall Horan hints at fiery love, remains musically restrained on new single ‘Heaven’

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FEBRUARY 24, 2023

Grade 3.5/5.0

Niall Horan is surfing on a sea of happiness, and he is not afraid to share it with the world. Compared to his last single, a collaboration with Anne-Marie titled “Our Song,” “Heaven” sees Horan overcoming heartbreak and floating on cloud nine.

Released Feb. 17, “Heaven” transports listeners to a dreamy, glorious state of utter joy. Reminiscent of the rush felt when cruising down the glorious California coast with a loved one, this song is about more than just being enamored. It reflects the excitement and wonder of the transition from infatuation to love. 

Devoid of excessive instrumentation, the single features an upbeat drum track and a steady guitar melody, which meld with Horan’s voice to create a swoon-worthy tune. Horan’s lilting Irish accent gives an edge to an otherwise soft and smooth-sailing song. 

Oscillating like a sine curve, Horan’s voice peaks during the chorus when singing, “Heaven won’t be the same,” this upward ascension mirrored in his vocal progression. In a similar manner, as the verses explore more serious sentiments — with lyrics such as “It’s hard to be a human” — his voice reaches a lower register, demonstrating the full extent of his emotion. 

However, despite this up-and-down range, Horan’s vocals are held back. Even as “Heaven” continues, there is no build to a powerful release of passion. Instead, this muted progression remains constant throughout the song. 

Notably, Horan partially shines during one moment: the chorus after the bridge, where the drum and guitar temporarily cease. With this pause, all that can be heard is Horan’s vocals, which resonate more strongly when accompanied only by a background of heavenly “ahs.”

On one hand, Horan’s consistent vocals emphasize a modern desire to dissect the present — for the artist, the experience of falling in love. The simplistic nature of the music and slightly repetitive lyrics serve to hone in on the deeper meaning of the song, rather than be taken in by the unnecessarily flashy instrumental additions. 

Wonderfully picturesque, the lyrics evoke the image of his beloved as an untouchable, shining angel adding light to the world. Accompanied by heavenly vocals, the song, from its onset, emanates an ethereal quality. As the chorus repeats, Horan allows listeners to bask in blossoming love and enjoy the familiarity of the tune, rather than waiting for something new at every turn. 

However, this tactic feels hackneyed by the song’s end, leaving listeners wanting more and waiting to see if Horan will raise the ante. Unfortunately, instead of fulfilling expectations, he checks and relies on the same redundant hand, hoping to milk his song just a bit longer. 

Given the artist’s capabilities and musical prowess, “Heaven” misses the mark by failing to make Horan’s vocals its primary focus. The song creates “Heartbreak Weather” for fans hoping to hear more of his dreamy voice. At certain points, it becomes difficult to discern Horan’s actual vocals from the backbeat and the synth modulating his notes. 

For Horan, “Heaven” is not a vision of godly justice or a serene utopia, but the unfettered euphoria experienced in a burning, passionate love. While certain elements of the new single may feel restrained and entrenched in repetition, “Heaven” hints at the fresh romance that fans can hope to glean more of in an upcoming album.

Contact Sejal Krishnan at 

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FEBRUARY 24, 2023