Going Solo Never Sounded So Good: Why Harry Styles' Brand of Music Is Everything
Leaving us wanting more and getting us stoked for his first solo tour
It was only when the 1D boys went their separate ways—releasing their own singles after announcing their band’s hiatus—did people begin to realize that the music styles the members wanted to pursue were actually very different.
Zayn took on alternate R&B (think: PartyNextDoor). Niall and Liam stuck with the pop genre albeit showing growth in this space (Liam now sings about a woman “stripping it down for him”) Louis, meanwhile, mixed things up with dance and electronic pop. Then, there’s Harry.
Breaking out of the boy band mold, Harry Styles managed to smoothly transition into a credible solo act with a sound all of his own: a little pop, a little soft rock and a whole lot of character. With his magnetic stage presence and unmistakable charm, the 23-year-old former baker boy from Redditch is more than ready to fly solo; his self-titled debut album proves just that.
via @harrystyles on Instagram
"It's different from what you'd expect," producer Jeff Bhasker told Rolling Stone. "It made me realize the Harry [in One D] was kind of the digitized Harry. Almost like a character. I don't think people know a lot of the sides of him that are on this album. You put it on and people are like, 'This is Harry Styles?' "
According to Styles, taking on this new chapter in his career required a change of scenery.
“I went [to Jamaica] because I didn’t want to be around distractions,” he told The Independent earlier this year. “The thing with being in London, or LA, or pretty much anywhere that you know people, is it’s tough, because you go into the studio for ten hours, and then, at some point, everyone has to eat, and you go home. I just wanted to really dive into it and immerse myself. It became this fluid thing that we were just doing all of the time, rather than going in from nine to five. I also didn’t want to be around people who might tell me what (the music) should sound like.”
And when it comes to his new direction, he admitted to starting by baring his soul.
"I wanted to write my stories, things that happened to me. The number-one thing was I wanted to be honest. I hadn't done that before," he said, opening up to Rolling Stone magazine.
A quick listen will show evident influences by Pink Floyd, Beatles, Stones and Fleetwood Mac: "A lot of my influences, and the stuff that I love, is older," he explained. "So the thing I didn't want to do was, I didn't want to put out my first album and be like, 'He's tried to re-create the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, Nineties.' Loads of amazing music was written then, but I'm not saying I wish I lived back then. I wanted to do something that sounds like me. I just keep pushing forward."
Styles also took on a new look.
It appears the style savvy artist has a love affair with Gucci: Since Alessandro Michele took the helm at the Italian fashion house, the aesthetic of the brand has changed. And it turns out it jives amazingly with Styles’ style persona.
To Harry, this marked a new era of his life and career. "I was about to personify my hair, but then I decided not to," he said jokingly.
Hits like “Sign of the Times,” “Sweet Creature” and “Two Ghosts” are definitely different from the style Styles had in One DIrection, but they’ve done their job winning over 1D fans in their state of mourning.
At the 2017 Teen Choice Awards, Styles won Choice Male Artist and Choice Rock Artist. Over at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, “Sign of the Times” was nominated for Best Pop Video.
And here, listen to “Two Ghosts” sung live for Behind The Album: The Performances:
The documentary will be released later this month on Apple Music.
Soft rock fave “Kiwi” made for an interesting listen.
One of the more grownup tracks in the album, “Kiwi,” raised speculation about a steamy relationship of Styles potentially with a mystery (but well-known) girl. Another singer? A model? Fans couldn’t wait to chime in. If lines like “I’m having your baby. It’s none of your business” don’t strike you anyway, then what will?
Styles, however, said the track was the stuff of fiction: “It started out as a joke, now it’s one of my favorite songs," he told BBC Radio 1. “It’s one of the first ones I wrote for the album, when I was getting out a lot of energy. I hadn’t written in a long time and this is what came out of it.”
Source Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Sony Music
The talent, the charm, the sex appeal: they’re qualities of a star that Harry Styles quite obviously embodies. And it’s safe to say we’re excited about Harry Styles going on tour and making his way to the Philippines. To miss all this going down live would be a crime.