whether or not you like harry as a solo artist, he’s the only one from ot4 that actually delivers. homeboy has his album ready to go. even announced tour dates already. and the other 3? niall’s been writing on his album for 17 years. louis hasn’t really done anything music related since just hold on. liam doesn’t even have his debut single out.
It is safe to say that almost the entire world has recently been exposed to the solo debut of Harry Styles, member of the band One Direction. While he was not the first one to start up a solo project – Zayn Malik left the band in 2015 to pursue a solo career, whereas both Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson released solo material in 2016 – he was, perhaps after Zayn’s dramatic departure, the most hyped and anticipated artist out of the original bandmembers.
It’s been two weeks since Harry released his incredibly successful #1 debut single, Sign of the Times, which leads his self-titled LP that will hit stores on the 12th of May. Subsequently, critics have been quick to write their reviews, labeling the rock anthem as an epic song that establishes Harry as a credible artist. Part of the promotional roll-out of Harry’s debut seems to be centered around the cultivation of that notion: Harry Styles is to be seen as an authentic, honest, yet mysterious, credible musician. Given the fact that Rolling Stone profiles itself as the market-leading music magazine when it comes to crediting such artistry, it was to be expected that a profile and cover issue of Harry Styles would follow suit.
In a companion piece, Rolling Stone published a so-called ‘fansplaining’ column on their website – delving into the fanbase that has supported Harry Styles throughout the years, probably aimed at gauging their reaction to his debut. An interesting take, given the fact that the journalistic lens of Rolling Stone seems to focus mostly around discrediting the opinion of young women, particularly those who have been avid fans of the music that One Direction has put out in previous years, and who have supported Harry and his peers throughout that time. Aside from the fact that such an understanding of music is abhorrently misogynist, as it values the middle-aged white male’s opinion as somehow more legitimate than those of women (even when those women were able to recognize the artist’s talent years prior to those men who were blinded by their fragile masculinity), the article also failed to do what it intended: Explain what makes these fans so loyal to their idol.
There seems to be a deep-rooted misunderstanding of the relationship between fans and the artist they support, starting with the idea that all fans are the same. They are not. As such, many internal disagreement can exist within a fandom, while all maintaining the same admiration for the artist. It should be clear that fans are perhaps, aside from the artist themselves, the most critical of the output provided. People might find that contradictory, but I have found this to be true amongst many different groups of fans. It is similar to having a best friend that loves you unconditionally, but that will set you straight and call you out on your mistakes when you stumble. Fans are there to help the artist along, but that doesn’t mean they will not hesitate to analyze, criticize and educate their idol as well as their peers if they feel this is necessary. Such criticism stems from the expectations they have formed about said output products. Most fans will distinguish between music on the one hand, and image on the other hand. This is separate from the expectations and perception fans have from their idol’s personality. However, they will expect both music and image to reflect the personality of the artist – this is where the honesty comes into play.
For those who have been following One Direction’s career and musical development, the style of music chosen by Harry did not come as a surprise. In fact, while many reviewers seem to shy away from making the comparison, it seems that Harry’s music seems to progress most naturally out of the latest albums of One Direction. Songs like Walking in the Wind, If I Could Fly, or the slightly older Ready to Run and Where do Broken Hearts Go all reflect similar soft-rock vibes. It also fits the fans’ perception of what Harry’s personal taste in music is like, as he’s always hinted at big artists from the 70s and 80s as his big musical influences. His continuous rejection of explaining his lyricism is also consistent with the Harry fans have come to know and love over the years – he’s expressed many a times how much he values music as art. And art is interpreted by the person observing the artpiece, he likes that a song might give different people different perspectives, as long as it resonates, it’s enough.
This links back to image. In my view, many fans see Harry as fiercely protective of his private life. And with good reason, given how he had to grow up in the limelight – starting off on the X Factor, a reality show that is as much a storytelling drama series as it is a singing competition. However, this is also where there is a deep dissatisfaction amongst fans. Part of celebrity culture is providing the public with certain glimpses into your private life, and fans are quite ambivalent in their appreciation of this. On the one hand, fans want to see their idols be happy and have the opportunity to talk to them, or get to know them. On the other hand, fans recognize the flagrant violation of privacy in terms of stalkers, paparazzi and ‘inside sources’ speaking to the press.
In Harry’s case, this is where the dichotomy is most apparent. While he himself never speaks out about his private life or relationships, not even his friendships with other celebs such as Ed Sheeran, Alexa Chung or Nick Grimshaw; his private life has quite possibly been most speculated about and most prominent in tabloids out of all the One Direction members. Rolling Stone does an abysmal job at respecting the same mysteriousness they hail Harry for trying to uphold by filling in the blanks and pushing him to talk about relationships he’s chosen not to address in the past. Their leading title for their profile does not focus on the music, or him as a new solo artist, but rather on him ‘opening up about famous flings’. It is a common misconception that fans want to hear him say that he’s single, or want to know the ins and outs of who he beds. Rather, fans want to hear what makes Harry happy. They don’t want to marry him, they want to know if he’s hydrated and well loved by his family and friends – if he’s taken enough holidays and if there’s anything in particular he still wants to achieve or cross of his bucket list; that is if he has one. They want to hear him honour the fundamental friendships that underpin the appreciation and adoration fans carry for all One Direction members. They want to know what inspires him – not who. Does he order a cheeseburger at McDonald’s, or does he enjoy a Big Mac on cheat days?
Similarly, many fans will find the sudden recognition by Rolling Stone and other acclaimed music reviewers to be bittersweet. While they will feel proud of Harry at seeing him succeed and get this approval, they also call it for what it is: a thinly-veiled rejection of One Direction and the Harry Styles prior to his solo debut. It is an honour to be hailed as the next David Bowie or Mick Jagger, but the line between inspiration and imitation is thin, which makes fans wary. What is more – the celebration of Harry’s apparent ‘new honesty and authenticity’ (again a rejection of his previous work) is rather awkward, when the reviews do not seem to provide Harry Styles with the room to be iconic as himself. They make sure to draw comparisons with a multitude of icons from the past, as if every choice he’s made has been infused with the mentality to emulate his predecessors. Fans want Harry to succeed by being true to who he is, and while his music gets recognition, it’s still not perceived as being something that is only fully Harry’s.Finally, it is important to not just address what fans expect from their idol, but also what they take away from them. In Rolling Stone, Harry Styles shared that what hurts him are fundamental issues that are lacking in today’s society – things like ‘equal rights, for everyone – all races, sexes, everything’. He’s a feminist, has been involved in the HeforShe campaign, and has expressed his support for LGBTQ+ as part of One Direction. He was frequently seen waving a rainbow flag in concerts, stated that ‘here at One Direction, we love love. Love is love,’ and has worn rainbow bracelets – most recently even a rainbow pin proudly fastened on his shirt. Moreover, he’s taken great care in answering questions about partners, favouring the word ‘spouse’ and always using gender-neutral pronouns. Harry is proud of the fact that he wears 26inch women’s skinny jeans, and continues to present himself as vulnerable in photoshoots, and to break gender norms by not shying away from the colour pink, silk and sheer, glitter boots, or wearing nailpolish. While some might not see the significance in this, these moves are incredibly powerful and can help people of all ages feel more accepted and comfortable with being who they are – it makes them feel normal and safe in a heteronormative world that is dominated by gender stereotypes. What is more, it reinforces their love and support for the artist, as they agree with their worldview – it’s a connection on a more fundamental level, that is not fueled by romantic love interest, or aesthetically pleasing faces and outfits.
Moreover, it inspires fans to change their views on society, and to extend the same charity and empathy as their idol does. In this respect, One Direction and its individual members have - unfortunately - been grossly underrated. Only recently did Steve Aoki note the incredibly power held by this fanbase in particular, calling the fans ‘an institution, like an army of bees’, recognizing how Louis Tomlinson’s fans were mainly responsible for his debut single’s smash success – creating and coordinating their own promotional campaigns, creating merchandise and posters, and requesting the song on radios. But this dedication does not limit itself to seeing their favourite artist succeed. Inspired by the great amount of charity work that One Direction has done itself, ranging from participating in Comic Relief and being patrons of numerous charities to Louis Tomlinson spending over 3 million pounds to organize a fundraiser in the form of a Princess Ball for ill children, the fans have bolstered this attitude to give to those in need and started charity drives in honour of the multiple members. The popular account 1DFansGive encourages fans to donate money to the charities that Harry and his peers are patrons of or have expressed their support for – with unparalleled, consistent success.
These positive aspects of the unique relationship between Harry Styles/1D and the fanbase are entirely lacking or even erased in media representation, which further fuels the dichotomy and love-hate relationship that fans have with media outlets. They stigmatize his fans as being teenage girls who fantasize about a relationship with him, and therefore are obsessed with his sex life – when this is frankly an insulting and gross overgeneralization. It is off-putting that fans are shamed for behavior they do not demonstrate, all the while the press engages in exactly that same behavior. It is not fans who force the idea of Harry Styles dating Taylor Swift or Kendall Jenner down anyone’s throats – it’s the press. It is not fans that prioritize his romantic relationships over his musical abilities and interests – it’s the press. On the other hand – it’s not the press that makes an artist successful, it’s the fans. And most importantly, it’s not the press that annually raises thousands of dollars inspired by an artist’s activism - it’s the fans. And the press doesn’t even report it; not even when they attempt fansplaining.
My advice? Don’t try something if the verb is derived from a harmful, toxic, divisive, humiliating and belittling behaviour that takes away someone’s voice and agency. Fansplaining is just as appreciated by fans as mansplaining is by women - not at all.
“I started the album end of Feb last year for about three weeks and then had to stop for about 5 months when I went to do a movie. I came back to it in July and finished writing it in December. For a while before all I thought about it was stressing about what it was going to be. It gave me a chance to completely step away from it for a bit and have a real break. By the end of the movie, because we were swimming so much I just wanted to write songs…I think we wrote about 70 songs - we did 50 songs and ideas in Jamaica and that’s including like little ideas. Well full songs, I say there are 30 songs probably. One of the songs on the album, I wrote a few years ago.”
On his album
“I was with the guys who I was writing it with and we just wanted to make what we wanted to listen to and that has been the most fun part for me about making the whole album. In the least weird way possible, it’s my favourite album to listen to at the moment… I hope we did a good job but I really like the album so I hope people like it. I think if you put out something that you don’t stand behind and really love, then if it doesn’t go well then you could regret not doing what you wanted to do. Whereas if nothing happens with it, I love it you know so I think that’s what you should do. I think that’s been my favourite part to the overall thing is listening to the album and making all the changes – it has been fun to watch over it all.”
Writing in Jamaica
“I just wanted to not be somewhere that I’d get distracted. It was 360 of writing, you’d go home for dinner, write at the house then go back to the studio. I liked being away from everything and doing it like that.”
About his debut single
“It’s a bit weird, I feel like I’ve been hibernating for so long now and you hear it in the safety of the studio and now it’s time to give birth … it’s the song (debut single) I’m most proud of writing.”
About making it on his own
“I’ve been hibernating trying to get it all ready, that’s been fun, but I like this bit as well. I think it’s gonna be fun, it’s gonna be good. It’s not like I’m travelling on my own now, I have a band and everything and they’re amazing.”
“I played him (Sheeran) a few songs after the album was finished. He didn’t say that he didn’t like any, but he did like one song that isn’t on the album. So I did have a bit of a minute of like hmmm no but…”
“I’ve spoken to her a little bit, she knows one of the guys that I wrote it with (his music) a lot. But I don’t think so much advice, I just like how she does stuff. I think she leads by example, she’s the biggest, she’s amazing, she’s the best so she should be the biggest. The thing with her is she’s a different thing, she’s just good at it, I like how she does everything, it looks very nice. For my 21st she gave me one of her albums 21 and said, ‘I did some pretty cool stuff when I was 21, good luck’ and I was like, 'geez’.”
“I haven’t dated in a long time really because I went away to do the movie then did the album so I haven’t in a while. I have a couple of candles left still though.
Whether dating when famous is hard
“I don’t know, maybe. I feel like with all of the stuff how people date now, with all online stuff, I feel like you can do that (Google) with anyone really if you’re looking at someone’s profile before seeing them. It’s kinda the same… No, I used to (research dates), then I said I’m not going to do that anymore, it’s impossible to go in without a perception of someone and you’ve never met them and I started feeling like that was wrong and weird. I think I snore, and also I quite like routine, so I don’t know if I’m incredibly spontaneous.”
Cutting his hair for Dunkirk
“I felt very naked for a while. I was like yeah, I’ve gotta shave my hair off. It wasn’t a hard decision, it got made into a wig.”
Why he rarely tweets
“I don’t like saying something for the sake of it.”
Life at home and work
“The first time I went home not wearing trainers, I was in a pair of boots. Someone said, ‘What the bloody hell are they?’ I like to separate working and being at home with family.”
“It’s easier in the way that I like to separate stuff from working and being at home with family and stuff. When you separate it it’s easier to see it for what it is. When you let it become everything and that’s your whole life, then it’s easy to get a bit lost in it. I’m lucky, I have amazing friends and my family’s amazing so I think they make it easier to keep the separation between the two which makes it easier for me.”
Being nervous about playing his music to others
“I think it’s nerve-racking in that I’ve only played it to like 10 people in a room. I try and not be there if I’m playing it…”
His mother and step-father’s reactions to the album
“I played the album to them the first time and there’s one song that’s got a vocal effect on it, the whole album finished then my stepdad said: ‘I’ve one question, where did you get the duck from, how did you get a duck in the studio?’ I was like: ‘That was me, thanks’. My Mum liked it which was handy. She cried a couple of times which was good, I think that was good.”
“I think it’s hard to not have influencers from what you grew up listening on. I think everyone reacts differently to different types of music. I had a good range between my mum and dad… my dad listened to Fleetwood, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Queen. My mum was like Norah Jones and Savage Garden. There are a lot of melodies there.”
Being starstruck by other celebrities
“I remember the first time we went to an awards show in the US, we met Will Smith. It was a brief meeting – he was nice and very tall.”
Addressing the rumour about getting a sheep placenta facial
“No I’ve never had a sheep placenta facial.”
Rumours about Hobama
“I’m not allowed to talk about that.”
Rumour on taking his dates on helicopter rides
“No I’ve never done that,” Harry says, with Grimmy responding: “Not even with Barack?”
“No,“ Harry says. “It was his helicopter, haha.”
Talking about Chris Martin
“He’s lovely isn’t he? He is good at telling you to take care of yourself. I think he makes sure you are alright and is very zen. I think he is a pretty wonderful man.”
On Ronnie Wood
“Big fan, I love Ronnie Wood – I think I met him at a dinner party a few years ago and went to a couple of Stones shows…I think he is the nicest.”
Interviewing Paul McCartney for his Another Man issue
“It was amazing – his voice sounds like a song.”
Loving scented candles
“I mean I think everyone loves scented candles. But I usually take one from home if I’m travelling.”
About sprouts being the new kale
“I went two days ago. I got some spinach, eggs, OJ, milk, turkey and some brussels sprouts. Hmm what else did I buy…oh some Crème Eggs. I like putting sprouts in a curry and I like sauteing them. I think they are going to be the new kale. I met [someone] and I asked her what she did and she said ‘I’m the PR lady for Kale’ and I was like ‘good job then.”
Talking about his four nipples
“Still got them, managed to keep them. Maybe I just hide them in limited edition albums, like golden tickets. I’ll hold onto them.”
“Best trait I don’t know, it’s weird to pick your best, shall we go with the nipples thing.”
On where not to ask him for a selfie
“I think in toilets is the weirdest one. It’s happened a couple of times… When someone tries to shake your hand right after having a wee, ‘I might wash my hands first’.”
About Liam’s son and being a potential godfather
“I spoke to Liam and he’s loving it. He said it’s going really well and everyone’s great. So I’m very happy for him. I think it’s a roll of the dice, there are a lot of people Liam has in mind. I’m not going to add any extra pressure. If it came my way I would be honoured.”
That’s how long it takes former ONE DIRECTION heart-throb HARRY STYLES to establish himself as the world’s most exciting new music star.
His debut single Sign of the Times is a soaring, epic rock ballad that sounds like a cross between DAVID BOWIE and LANA DEL REY (as weird as that sounds).
It goes against the current trend of non-distinguishable dance tracks — the length alone would make it commercial suicide for any other artist.
Its main instrument is the piano, which Harry has been studiously playing in private for years.
For large portions of the track he sings in falsetto, showing off a quality voice with much more range than we ever saw during his five years in 1D. This song has the potential to become a timeless classic.
Harry co-wrote it with the brilliant, highly regarded Grammy-winning producer JEFF BHASKER, best known for his work with KANYE WEST and JAY Z.
Whether anyone in the industry will take young Harry seriously as the “next Bowie” remains to be seen, but the 23-year-old is certainly putting his best foot forward.
The lyrics are “deeply personal”, sources close to Harry tell me, but they’re also open to any form of interpretation.
Sign of the Times begins with him singing over the piano: “Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times. Welcome to the final show, hope you’re wearing your best clothes.”
Could it be about a break-up? Possibly. Or maybe about death? More likely.
The refrain throughout the song is his need to “gotta get away from here”. From what exactly isn’t clear.
“We could meet again somewhere, somewhere far away from here,” he sings, poignantly.
Many people think Harry has disappeared up his own backside with an arty promotional campaign designed to distance himself as far as possible from the 1D heritage that has given him this opportunity.
That said, I give him huge credit for releasing the most daring and well-delivered debut single of the decade.
And you won’t get it out of your head once you’ve heard it . . . - THE SUN
Not these white squares again. Is he doing this every 6 months? I’m guessing it’s to punctuate a new chapter or something. Can I just say - he’s just taken up a picture of something white, and one of these squares has 740,000 likes. I think the song might do alright.
Nick discussing Harry’s insta antics and the upcoming debut single (!!!!)
Some of you might recall Julia Michaels’ husky simmering, sultry alluring voice from Kygo’s album, Cloud Nine, on which she lent her vocals to sparkling lifter Carry Me. What most people likely don’t know is that this gifted Los Angeles musician also lent her songwriting talent to a bevy of smash hits like Justin Bieber’s Sorry, Selena Gomez’s Good For You, Hailee Steinfeld’s Love Myself, Gwen Stefani’s Used To Love You, Britney Spears’ Slumber Party, and far, far more. The hit maker, now signed to Republic, targets her own solo career as she unleashes a pop jewel named Issues. The debut single, produced by Benny Blanco and Stargate, is a slick spacious electronic pop confection in which hints of Kiiara and Terror Jr can be found in its buoyant beats and voluminous spread. The industry is abuzz over a forthcoming Julia Michaels album. The rising starlet was even featured on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list.
The meticulously planned debut of the single at 8am on Friday will kick off an Adele-style campaign to establish Harry as the world’s biggest male star. The superfan of David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney wants to be taken seriously as a songwriter and musician – and will distance himself from the teen pop direction of his former band. A source close to the star tells me: “Harry isn’t a typical popstar. This is an art rock project – and he wants to let the music do the talking.” Harry has spent months secretly ensuring that the music has a timeless quality reminiscent of Bowie and Prince at their peaks in the 70s and 80s.
He has rejected the current move towards dance music and his first release will, in fact, run to five minutes long. The song is so shrouded in secrecy that it is on just two iPods, which have no internet connection to stop hackers leaking the tune. Many who have listened to the song have been asked to sign legally binding non-disclosure agreements. Quietly determined Harry has been very personally involved in every aspect of the music, which has been produced by Jeff Bhasker who was behind the international smash hit Uptown Funk. My source adds: “Harry has written the songs and the meanings are very personal to him, based on his life. He has also been playing the guitar and the piano as well. He’s a very modest guy, but it was important to him that this music represented him totally.”
Access to Harry is going to be severely limited during the international campaign. The headline-grabbing star is desperate to avoid discussion of his personal life, especially romances with celebs such as Taylor Swift, Kendall Jenner and Caroline Flack. And he also wants to avoid any discussion about his relationship with his 1D band members, who he has seen just a handful of times in the year-and-a-half since the split. Harry has agreed to appear on BBC1 favourite Graham Norton – but he will only perform and not join the other A-listers on the sofa of the hit chat show. He’ll also appear on US TV institution Saturday Night Live and give one in-depth interview to his BFF Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1 to coincide with the single release.
The source explains: “Harry doesn’t want to talk about his personal life or be asked constantly about One Direction. It’s not his style. He’s spent his entire life having his every move scrutinised. He doesn’t feel the need to do interviews or the promo circuit. There will be a couple of very big appearances to keep TV and radio on board, but it will be very limited and he’s learnt how to say very little. Harry’s idols are people like Bowie and Jagger. He’s closely studied their careers and that’s the direction he is heading in. He loves the sense of mystery they maintained around them.”
Harry’s small team of advisers is led by his manager and close friend Jeff Azoff, the son of music giant and Eagles manager Irving. Also intimately involved are Sony Music Entertainment chief executive Rob Stringer and Sony Music UK chairman Jason Iley – a sign in the importance of Harry’s success to the future of the company. He is being advised on PR by Dawbell, the company that also represents Harry’s close friends and personal mentors James Corden and Gary Barlow. Stringer has said of the project: “We obviously want everything to be beautifully done, because we think he’s here to stay. Harry has stepped up with the vision of someone who’s authentic.”
Love “Sign of the Times,” Harry Styles’ debut solo single? You’ll get to see him perform it on Saturday Night Live in eight days — as well as another new song.
Sources tell Billboard that Styles will indeed play a second new song on SNL when he makes his debut on the Apr. 15 episode, which Jimmy Fallon will host. The One Direction member was announced as an SNL performer on Mar. 28, and his first post-1D single, “Sign of the Times,” was unveiled on Friday morning.
No word on the second song’s title, or whether it will be released in its studio version prior to the performance. Last month, Lorde performed two new songs, “Green Light” and “Liability,” on SNL, after releasing “Liability” online days prior to the appearance. The Chainsmokers, who released their album Memories… Do Not Open on Friday, are set to perform on SNL tomorrow night.
“Sign of the Times” was produced by Jeff Bhasker and co-written by Styles; a music video for the song will be released later this month. On Apr. 21, Styles will appear on the BBC’s The Graham Norton Show, for his first solo performance in his native U.K.
First Harry selling his public LA house, then Louis rrenting out the 10 million house, than that video saying the 7 million stunt house is for sale (although that one hasnt been reported by media) and now Harry's london house.... are they dumping all their public houses??? Because I'm so here for that! www*thesun*co*uk/tvandshowbiz/3318423/harry-styles-3million-london-home-spotted-with-for-sale-sign-outside-days-after-he-launches-solo-career-with-sign-of-the-times/
The Sign of the Times singer grew up in a more modest £400,000 family home in Cheshire.
After the release of Sign of the Times last Friday, Harry’s debut
single has gone on to top the Billboard and Twitter trending chart and
it’s expected that he will nab the top spot in the UK Top 40 this
Harry Styles is teasing something big to come on April 7, and sources tell Billboard it’s a single.
A mysterious television ad – in which an instrumental track is heard as Styles walks through a cloud of smoke – aired in the U.K. Saturday (March 25). At the end of the clip, the singer’s eyes gaze into the camera, just before the date April 7 flashes on the screen.
News of the One Direction star signing a recording contract with Columbia Records was confirmed in June. The April 7 release would be Styles’ debut solo single. - Billboard
harry: hi i know i’ve been MIA for the past year, but here’s a full-length feature film in which i act; a 30-second promo advert; an appearance on SNL; a five-minute debut single; an album that i have worked hard on and hope you enjoy with all of your heart and soul. lots more to come. sorry i couldn’t tell you sooner, but rome wasn’t built in a day… all the love xx