The idea of Harry reaching for a new legitimacy — whether successfully or not — is one I’m really interested in exploring at the moment. I’ve seen a handful of conversations online that basically amount to “he’s got a guitar now, he’s trying to be something more real than One Direction let him be.” I find that conversation so dull and meaningless. It aligns with a rockist mentality that men writing their own music and playing their own instruments is somehow more fulfilling or valid than a catchy pop hook or beat you can dance to. The most wonderful thing about this record, I think, is that it’s not only in keeping with Harry’s “old stuff,“ but that it is very likely the space he’ll continue to work in for a long time. I can’t imagine him noticing Top 40 trends and peppering them into his work on the next record, or clutching for some new and different sound to appeal to a more quote, unquote legitimate audience. Harry has always defied trends, whether through his personal style — wearing floral suits where his bandmates wore classic black or jeans and t-shirts — or, now, by backing the passion and dedication of the teen-girl fan base where, historically, newly solo ex–boy banders were rabid about distancing themselves from that audience in favor of new, older listeners. Even for all the trendy nostalgia in this record, he also shrugged off his producer’s suggestion to use outdated technology to make it; on the Rolling Stone podcast, Cameron Crowe said Harry was adamant about using the most up-to-date tools today, just as his heroes did in the ’60s and ’70s, rather that backpedaling into analog for analog’s sake. The idea that he’s somehow more “real” now that he’s nervously plucking a guitar (one he’s traveled with for, like, five years) is misguided.
While there have been glaring factual errors in almost every piece written in the last week, there was one from the earlier Vulture article I wanted to point out. The writer states that Harry as the RS cover story was an honor considered "too sophomoric" for 1D. The truth is, there was a cover and story about 1D before Harry turned 18.