EDITOR’S NOTE: A few weeks back, after 24 long years of waiting, I was finally able to cross ‘attend Saturday Night Live’ off my bucket list, as I won the lottery for the Jimmy Fallon/Harry Styles dress rehearsal. Now, let’s get a few things straight here: we’ve all known the name “Harry Styles” for a while, as a die-hard fan or just in passing. But he’s been around. I would’ve never expected to be publishing earnest content praising his music, but here we are. And, this is a full endorsement of Harry Styles as, officially, being cool. This dude is wildly Timberlakian—he’s got the musical chops (as Katie explains below, this album rocks), he’s got the charisma, and he’s got the likability. And this summer you can catch him in a fucking Christopher Nolan movie. Team Harry, ride or die.
The morning after Harry Styles performed on Saturday Night Live, I woke up to find far more texts and Twitter notifications than usual.
“I think I just fell in love with Harry Styles,” a friend told me on Twitter.
“I’m finally starting to get the Harry Styles thing,” read another text.
These friends, of course, came to me knowing I provide a safe space in which to gossip about pop music and former (or current, tbh) members of boy bands.
I’m a pretty shameless fan of pop music—not that there’s any shame in pop music—and a longtime One Direction fan, so I never tried to hide my excitement for Harry Styles’ solo debut. Many of my peers, on the other hand (my peers being twenty-somethings living in Brooklyn) cared far less about a 23-year-old former boy band member.
But then he released “Sign of the Times,” a rock ballad immediately received to critical acclaim. And then he performed on SNL, and he even appeared in sketches, adorably cheeky as ever. Plus, I mean, his face and his hair don’t hurt his appeal (Harry Styles has always been my hair idol.) (note: plus, his bridge in the ‘Civil War Soldiers’ skit is fire)
And then, the general public was forced to admit what teenage girls have known for a long time: Harry Styles is hot, and talented, and he’s going to be around for a long time.
Let’s be honest, Harry was always the Justin Timberlake of One Direction. He was always destined for a massive solo career, and ever since One Direction announced its split in 2015, there have been so many questions. Will his album be better than Zayn’s? Will he sing about Taylor Swift? Will he ever cut his beautiful hair?!
I’m not going to lie, I’m relieved that Harry’s new music is amazing, because the stakes were high after Zayn left the band early to get started on his solo career in brooding, er, music. There are two types of people in this world: Zayn people and Harry people, and I will choose Harry every time (I will also always choose the skinny hipster over the tall, dark, and handsome one, so I’ll admit this opinion is biased.)
Then, of course, there’s Niall, who released a pretty good song last week at the same time Harry released a single (bold move!). Louis sang something for an EDM track, I think, which sounds about right. Looks like Liam will be the final member of 1D to release new music (editor’s note: and this song is with MIGOS, so stay tuned). I will never be able to tell Louis and Liam apart, much to the dismay of my former coworker, who provided the Brooklyn Magazine office with a One Direction calendar in 2016.
Anyway, we can’t dwell One Direction (RIP) any longer. Harry is a new man now. With a new album, a new haircut, and a pink blazer.
In honor of Harry’s highly anticipated debut album (and in honor of it being anticipated by more than just me), I decided to honor the Brooklyn Magazine tradition of staying up until midnight in anticipation of an important album release.
Midnight came, Harry bestowed ten perfect tracks upon the world. It kicks off with a pair of ballads (“Meet Me in the Hallway,” and the world-beater, “Sign of the Times.”)
On “Carolina,” things get a bit more upbeat, as Harry sings about a good girl from Carolina (he knows his audience! There’s nothing people love more than a Brit singing about a traditional American girl, right?)
“Two Ghosts” is next, which is great, because it’s the Taylor Swift dig we’ve all been waiting for. “Same red lips, same blue eyes,” Harry croons to open the song, a clear homage to Taylor’s lyrics on 2015’s “Style.” No one here is subtle, and I love it.
Next comes “Sweet Creature,” which is fine, but kind of a Mumford and Sons-y rip-off, as my editor has pointed out. (Note: yeah, this one is fine, but there’s some Vance Joy/Philip Phillips shit going on here )
Then, things get interesting, as Harry switches from vulnerable, nice boy content and tries his hand at broody, badass rock star (“Only Angel” and “Kiwi.”)
“She’s driving me crazy, but I’m into it,” Harry belts out on “Kiwi,” as a million girls are psyched to learn that Harry Styles is into crazy (myself included). That’s followed by some cryptic lines about having his baby, which is worth noting, although I’m not sure who this is referring to. I like hard-rocker Harry very much.
And yet, it still gets better. After those two, Harry returns to his vulnerable state, with “Ever Since New York,” a very good pop song that he debuted on SNL. This is followed by “Woman,” which opens with Harry mumbling, “Should we just search romantic comedies on Netflix and see what we can find?” This song is all about Harry’s jealousy of an ex’s new flame, and all I can say is *SWOON*.
The final track, “From the Dining Room Table,” is the perfect close to an album about love and loss, where he sings about waking up alone in hotel room (“I’ve never felt less cool.”)
The ten tracks on Harry Styles’ self-titled debut solo album prove he’s got star power, conquering a variety of genres, but most of all it proves that he’s no longer just a boy band pop star. He’s a bona fide rock star.
Harry Styles’ self-titled debut solo album is available now. Check out a Spotify stream below: