We take the piratical gangplank that juts into the water and dive in. Let me tell you, this is not the Aegean. The glacial water is a cloudy phlegm green beneath the surface, and clammy reeds slap one’s ankles. Styles, who admits he will try any fad, has recently had a couple of cryotherapy sessions and is evidently less susceptible to the cold. By the time we have swum a full circuit, however, body temperatures have adjusted, and the ice, you might say, has been broken. Duly invigorated, we are ready to face the day. Styles has thoughtfully brought a canister of coffee and some bottles of water in his backpack, and we sit at either end of a park bench for a socially distanced chat.
Harry was spotted with Olivia Wilde, Olivia Wilde, Tommy Bruce, Glenne Christiaansen and Jeffrey Azoffs walking down the road in Santa Barbara.
CANDIDS > 2021 > JANUARY 03 – WALKING DOWN THE ROAD IN SANTA BARBARA
Harry was spotted with a friend returning from a hike in Los Angeles.
CANDIDS > 2021 > JANUARY 04 – SPOTTED RETURNING FROM A HIKE IN LOS ANGELES
Harry was spotted with Olivia Wilde at his his agent’s wedding in Southern California.
CANDIDS > 2021 > JANUARY 02 – AT HIS AGENT’S WEDDING IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
THE MEN’S BATHING POND in London’s Hampstead Heath at daybreak on a gloomy September morning seemed such an unlikely locale for my first meeting with Harry Styles, music’s legendarily charm-heavy style czar, that I wondered perhaps if something had been lost in translation.
That sweatshirt and the Columbia Records tracksuit bottoms are removed in the quaint wooden open-air changing room, with its Swallows and Amazons vibe. A handful of intrepid fellow patrons in various states of undress are blissfully unaware of the 26-year-old supernova in their midst, although I must admit I’m finding it rather difficult to take my eyes off him, try as I might. Styles has been on a six-day juice cleanse in readiness for Vogue’s photographer Tyler Mitchell. He practices Pilates (“I’ve got very tight hamstrings—trying to get those open”) and meditates twice a day. “It has changed my life,” he avers, “but it’s so subtle. It’s helped me just be more present. I feel like I’m able to enjoy the things that are happening right in front of me, even if it’s food or it’s coffee or it’s being with a friend—or a swim in a really cold pond!” Styles also feels that his meditation practices have helped him through the tumult of 2020: “Meditation just brings a stillness that has been really beneficial, I think, for my mental health.”
Styles has been a pescatarian for three years, inspired by the vegan food that several members of his current band prepared on tour. “My body definitely feels better for it,” he says. His shapely torso is prettily inscribed with the tattoos of a Victorian sailor—a rose, a galleon, a mermaid, an anchor, and a palm tree among them, and, straddling his clavicle, the dates 1967 and 1957 (the respective birth years of his mother and father). Frankly, I rather wish I’d packed a beach muumuu.
It seems that he has had a productive year. At the onset of lockdown, Styles found himself in his second home, in the canyons of Los Angeles. After a few days on his own, however, he moved in with a pod of three friends (and subsequently with two band members, Mitch Rowland and Sarah Jones). They “would put names in a hat and plan the week out,” Styles explains. “If you were Monday, you would choose the movie, dinner, and the activity for that day. I like to make soups, and there was a big array of movies; we went all over the board,” from Goodfellas to Clueless. The experience, says Styles, “has been a really good lesson in what makes me happy now. It’s such a good example of living in the moment. I honestly just like being around my friends,” he adds. “That’s been my biggest takeaway. Just being on my own the whole time, I would have been miserable.”
Styles is big on friendship groups and considers his former and legendarily hysteria-inducing boy band, One Direction, to have been one of them. “I think the typical thing is to come out of a band like that and almost feel like you have to apologize for being in it,” says Styles. “But I loved my time in it. It was all new to me, and I was trying to learn as much as I could. I wanted to soak it in…. I think that’s probably why I like traveling now—soaking stuff up.” In a post-COVID future, he is contemplating a temporary move to Tokyo, explaining that “there’s a respect and a stillness, a quietness that I really loved every time I’ve been there.”
In 1D, Styles was making music whenever he could. “After a show you’d go in a hotel room and put down some vocals,” he recalls. As a result, his first solo album, 2017’s Harry Styles, “was when I really fell in love with being in the studio,” he says. “I loved it as much as touring.” Today he favors isolating with his core group of collaborators, “our little bubble”—Rowland, Kid Harpoon (né Tom Hull), and Tyler Johnson. “A safe space,” as he describes it.
In the music he has been working on in 2020, Styles wants to capture the experimental spirit that informed his second album, last year’s Fine Line. With his debut album, “I was very much finding out what my sound was as a solo artist,” he says. “I can see all the places where it almost felt like I was bowling with the bumpers up. I think with the second album I let go of the fear of getting it wrong and…it was really joyous and really free. I think with music it’s so important to evolve—and that extends to clothes and videos and all that stuff. That’s why you look back at David Bowie with Ziggy Stardust or the Beatles and their different eras—that fearlessness is super inspiring.”
The seismic changes of 2020—including the Black Lives Matter uprising around racial justice—has also provided Styles with an opportunity for personal growth. “I think it’s a time for opening up and learning and listening,” he says. “I’ve been trying to read and educate myself so that in 20 years I’m still doing the right things and taking the right steps. I believe in karma, and I think it’s just a time right now where we could use a little more kindness and empathy and patience with people, be a little more prepared to listen and grow.”
Styles is looking forward to touring again, when “it’s safe for everyone,” because, as he notes, “being up against people is part of the whole thing. You can’t really re-create it in any way.” But it hasn’t always been so. Early in his career, Styles was so stricken with stage fright that he regularly threw up preperformance. “I just always thought I was going to mess up or something,” he remembers. “But I’ve felt really lucky to have a group of incredibly generous fans. They’re generous emotionally—and when they come to the show, they give so much that it creates this atmosphere that I’ve always found so loving and accepting.”
THIS SUMMER, when it was safe enough to travel, Styles returned to his London home, which is where he suggests we head now, setting off in his modish Primrose Yellow ’73 Jaguar that smells of gasoline and leatherette. “Me and my dad have always bonded over cars,” Styles explains. “I never thought I’d be someone who just went out for a leisurely drive, purely for enjoyment.” On sleepless jet-lagged nights he’ll drive through London’s quiet streets, seeing neighborhoods in a new way. “I find it quite relaxing,” he says.
Over the summer Styles took a road trip with his artist friend Tomo Campbell through France and Italy, setting off at four in the morning and spending the night in Geneva, where they jumped in the lake “to wake ourselves up.” (I see a pattern emerging.) At the end of the trip Styles drove home alone, accompanied by an upbeat playlist that included “Aretha Franklin, Parliament, and a lot of Stevie Wonder. It was really fun for me,” he says. “I don’t travel like that a lot. I’m usually in such a rush, but there was a stillness to it. I love the feeling of nobody knowing where I am, that kind of escape…and freedom.”
GROWING UP in a village in the North of England, Styles thought of London as a world apart: “It truly felt like a different country.” At a wide-eyed 16, he came down to the teeming metropolis after his mother entered him on the U.K. talent-search show The X Factor. “I went to the audition to find out if I could sing,” Styles recalls, “or if my mum was just being nice to me.” Styles was eliminated but subsequently brought back with other contestants—Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik—to form a boy band that was named (on Styles’s suggestion) One Direction. The wily X Factor creator and judge, Simon Cowell, soon signed them to his label Syco Records, and the rest is history: 1D’s first four albums, supported by four world tours from 2011 to 2015, debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard charts, and the band has sold 70 million records to date. At 18, Styles bought the London house he now calls home. “I was going to do two weeks’ work to it,” he remembers, “but when I came back there was no second floor,” so he moved in with adult friends who lived nearby till the renovation was complete. “Eighteen months,” he deadpans. “I’ve always seen that period as pretty pivotal for me, as there’s that moment at the party where it’s getting late, and half of the people would go upstairs to do drugs, and the other people go home. I was like, ‘I don’t really know this friend’s wife, so I’m not going to get all messy and then go home.’ I had to behave a bit, at a time where everything else about my life felt I didn’t have to behave really. I’ve been lucky to always feel I have this family unit somewhere.”
When Styles’s London renovation was finally done, “I went in for the first time and I cried,” he recalls. “Because I just felt like I had somewhere. L.A. feels like holiday, but this feels like home.”
Behind its pink door, Styles’s house has all the trappings of rock stardom—there’s a man cave filled with guitars, a Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks poster (a moving-in gift from his decorator), a Stevie Nicks album cover. Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” was one of the first songs he knew the words to—“My parents were big fans”—and he and Nicks have formed something of a mutual-admiration society. At the beginning of lockdown, Nicks tweeted to her fans that she was taking inspiration from Fine Line: “Way to go, H,” she wrote. “It is your Rumours.” “She’s always there for you,” said Styles when he inducted Nicks into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. “She knows what you need—advice, a little wisdom, a blouse, a shawl; she’s got you covered.”
Styles makes us some tea in the light-filled kitchen and then wanders into the convivial living room, where he strikes an insouciant pose on the chesterfield sofa, upholstered in a turquoise velvet that perhaps not entirely coincidentally sets off his eyes. Styles admits that his lockdown lewk was “sweatpants, constantly,” and he is relishing the opportunity to dress up again. He doesn’t have to wait long: The following day, under the eaves of a Victorian mansion in Notting Hill, I arrive in the middle of fittings for Vogue’s shoot and discover Styles in his Y-fronts, patiently waiting to try on looks for fashion editor Camilla Nickerson and photographer Tyler Mitchell. Styles’s personal stylist, Harry Lambert, wearing a pearl necklace and his nails colored in various shades of green varnish, à la Sally Bowles, is providing helpful backup (Britain’s Rule of Six hasn’t yet been imposed).
Styles, who has thoughtfully brought me a copy of de Botton’s 2006 book The Architecture of Happiness, is instinctively and almost quaintly polite, in an old-fashioned, holding-open-doors and not-mentioning-lovers-by-name sort of way. He is astounded to discover that the Atlanta-born Mitchell has yet to experience a traditional British Sunday roast dinner. Assuring him that “it’s basically like Thanksgiving every Sunday,” Styles gives Mitchell the details of his favorite London restaurants in which to enjoy one. “It’s a good thing to be nice,” Mitchell tells me after a morning in Styles’s company.
MITCHELL has Lionel Wendt’s languorously homoerotic 1930s portraits of young Sri Lankan men on his mood board. Nickerson is thinking of Irving Penn’s legendary fall 1950 Paris haute couture collections sitting, where he photographed midcentury supermodels, including his wife, Lisa Fonssagrives, in high-style Dior and Balenciaga creations. Styles is up for all of it, and so, it would seem, is the menswear landscape of 2020: Jonathan Anderson has produced a trapeze coat anchored with a chunky gold martingale; John Galliano at Maison Margiela has fashioned a khaki trench with a portrait neckline in layers of colored tulle; and Harris Reed—a Saint Martins fashion student sleuthed by Lambert who ended up making some looks for Styles’s last tour—has spent a week making a broad-shouldered Smoking jacket with high-waisted, wide-leg pants that have become a Styles signature since he posed for Tim Walker for the cover of Fine Line wearing a Gucci pair—a silhouette that was repeated in the tour wardrobe. (“I liked the idea of having that uniform,” says Styles.) Reed’s version is worn with a hoopskirt draped in festoons of hot-pink satin that somehow suggests Deborah Kerr asking Yul Brynner’s King of Siam, “Shall we dance?”
Styles introduces me to the writer and eyewear designer Gemma Styles, “my sister from the same womb,” he says. She is also here for the fitting: The siblings plan to surprise their mother with the double portrait on these pages.
I ask her whether her brother had always been interested in clothes.
“My mum loved to dress us up,” she remembers. “I always hated it, and Harry was always quite into it. She did some really elaborate papier-mâché outfits: She made a giant mug and then painted an atlas on it, and that was Harry being ‘The World Cup.’ Harry also had a little dalmatian-dog outfit,” she adds, “a hand-me-down from our closest family friends. He would just spend an inordinate amount of time wearing that outfit. But then Mum dressed me up as Cruella de Vil. She was always looking for any opportunity!”
“As a kid I definitely liked fancy dress,” Styles says. There were school plays, the first of which cast him as Barney, a church mouse. “I was really young, and I wore tights for that,” he recalls. “I remember it was crazy to me that I was wearing a pair of tights. And that was maybe where it all kicked off!”
Acting has also remained a fundamental form of expression for Styles. His sister recalls that even on the eve of his life-changing X Factor audition, Styles could sing in public only in an assumed voice. “He used to do quite a good sort of Elvis warble,” she remembers. During the rehearsals in the family home, “he would sing in the bathroom because if it was him singing as himself, he just couldn’t have anyone looking at him! I love his voice now,” she adds. “I’m so glad that he makes music that I actually enjoy listening to.”
Styles’s role-playing continued soon after 1D went on permanent hiatus in 2016, and he was cast in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, beating out dozens of professional actors for the role. “The good part was my character was a young soldier who didn’t really know what he was doing,” says Styles modestly. “The scale of the movie was so big that I was a tiny piece of the puzzle. It was definitely humbling. I just loved being outside of my comfort zone.”
His performance caught the eye of Olivia Wilde, who remembers that it “blew me away—the openness and commitment.” In turn, Styles loved Wilde’s directorial debut, Booksmart, and is “very honored” that she cast him in a leading role for her second feature, a thriller titled Don’t Worry Darling, which went into production this fall. Styles will play the husband to Florence Pugh in what Styles describes as “a 1950s utopia in the California desert.”
Wilde’s movie is costumed by Academy Award nominee Arianne Phillips. “She and I did a little victory dance when we heard that we officially had Harry in the film,” notes Wilde, “because we knew that he has a real appreciation for fashion and style. And this movie is incredibly stylistic. It’s very heightened and opulent, and I’m really grateful that he is so enthusiastic about that element of the process—some actors just don’t care.”
“I like playing dress-up in general,” Styles concurs, in a masterpiece of understatement: This is the man, after all, who cohosted the Met’s 2019 “Notes on Camp” gala attired in a nipple-freeing black organza blouse with a lace jabot, and pants so high-waisted that they cupped his pectorals. The ensemble, accessorized with the pearl-drop earring of a dandified Elizabethan courtier, was created for Styles by Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, whom he befriended in 2014. Styles, who has subsequently personified the brand as the face of the Gucci fragrance, finds Michele “fearless with his work and his imagination. It’s really inspiring to be around someone who works like that.”
The two first met in London over a cappuccino. “It was just a kind of PR appointment,” says Michele, “but something magical happened, and Harry is now a friend. He has the aura of an English rock-and-roll star—like a young Greek god with the attitude of James Dean and a little bit of Mick Jagger—but no one is sweeter. He is the image of a new era, of the way that a man can look.”
Styles credits his style transformation—from Jack Wills tracksuit-clad boy-band heartthrob to nonpareil fashionisto—to his meeting the droll young stylist Harry Lambert seven years ago. They hit it off at once and have conspired ever since, enjoying a playfully campy rapport and calling each other Sue and Susan as they parse the niceties of the scarlet lace Gucci man-bra that Michele has made for Vogue’s shoot, for instance, or a pair of Bode pants hand-painted with biographical images (Styles sent Emily Adams Bode images of his family, and a photograph he had found of David Hockney and Joni Mitchell. “The idea of those two being friends, to me, was really beautiful,” Styles explains).
“He just has fun with clothing, and that’s kind of where I’ve got it from,” says Styles of Lambert. “He doesn’t take it too seriously, which means I don’t take it too seriously.” The process has been evolutionary. At his first meeting with Lambert, the stylist proposed “a pair of flares, and I was like, ‘Flares? That’s fucking crazy,’ ” Styles remembers. Now he declares that “you can never be overdressed. There’s no such thing. The people that I looked up to in music—Prince and David Bowie and Elvis and Freddie Mercury and Elton John—they’re such showmen. As a kid it was completely mind-blowing. Now I’ll put on something that feels really flamboyant, and I don’t feel crazy wearing it. I think if you get something that you feel amazing in, it’s like a superhero outfit. Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with. What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play. I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing. It’s like anything—anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never really thought too much about what it means—it just becomes this extended part of creating something.”
“To me, he’s very modern,” says Wilde of Styles, “and I hope that this brand of confidence as a male that Harry has—truly devoid of any traces of toxic masculinity—is indicative of his generation and therefore the future of the world. I think he is in many ways championing that, spearheading that. It’s pretty powerful and kind of extraordinary to see someone in his position redefining what it can mean to be a man with confidence.”
“He’s really in touch with his feminine side because it’s something natural,” notes Michele. “And he’s a big inspiration to a younger generation—about how you can be in a totally free playground when you feel comfortable. I think that he’s a revolutionary.”
STYLES’S confidence is on full display the day after the fitting, which finds us all on the beautiful Sussex dales. Over the summit of the hill, with its trees blown horizontal by the fierce winds, lies the English Channel. Even though it’s a two-hour drive from London, the fresh-faced Styles, who went to bed at 9 p.m., has arrived on set early: He is famously early for everything. The team is installed in a traditional flint-stone barn. The giant doors have been replaced by glass and frame a bucolic view of distant grazing sheep. “Look at that field!” says Styles. “How lucky are we? This is our office! Smell the roses!” Lambert starts to sing “Kumbaya, my Lord.”
Hairdresser Malcolm Edwards is setting Styles’s hair in a Victory roll with silver clips, and until it is combed out he resembles Kathryn Grayson with stubble. His fingers are freighted with rings, and “he has a new army of mini purses,” says Lambert, gesturing to an accessory table heaving with examples including a mini sky-blue Gucci Diana bag discreetly monogrammed HS. Michele has also made Styles a dress for the shoot that Tissot might have liked to paint—acres of ice-blue ruffles, black Valenciennes lace, and suivez-moi, jeune homme ribbons. Erelong, Styles is gamely racing up a hill in it, dodging sheep scat, thistles, and shards of chalk, and striking a pose for Mitchell that manages to make ruffles a compelling new masculine proposition, just as Mr. Fish’s frothy white cotton dress—equal parts Romantic poet and Greek presidential guard—did for Mick Jagger when he wore it for The Rolling Stones’ free performance in Hyde Park in 1969, or as the suburban-mom floral housedress did for Kurt Cobain as he defined the iconoclastic grunge aesthetic. Styles is mischievously singing ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” to himself when Mitchell calls him outside to jump up and down on a trampoline in a Comme des Garçons buttoned wool kilt. “How did it look?” asks his sister when he comes in from the cold. “Divine,” says her brother in playful Lambert-speak.
As the wide sky is washed in pink, orange, and gray, like a Turner sunset, and Mitchell calls it a successful day, Styles is playing “Cherry” from Fine Line on his Fender acoustic on the hilltop. “He does his own stunts,” says his sister, laughing. The impromptu set is greeted with applause. “Thank you, Antwerp!” says Styles playfully, bowing to the crowd. “Thank you, fashion!”
While most music stars are rescheduling tour dates to 2021, Harry Styles is looking farther ahead and making plans to headline his own arena — one he’s putting his money and ideas into.
Styles is one of the investors in a £350 million pound ($456.6 million) new concert venue in Manchester, England, called Co-op Live.
The project, announced Monday, teams him up with Oak View Group on what they hope will be the UK’s largest arena.
“As long as everything’s in order by 2023, hopefully they’ll let me play there. If I haven’t messed it up yet,” Styles said, smiling.
After 10 years touring the globe and playing record-breaking stadiums shows with One Direction, Styles, 26, knows what he’d like from a venue, both as an artist and as an attendee.
For performers, he also wants to create great memories.
Already vetoing a suggestion of backstage jacuzzies (“bad idea”), he’s concentrating on making it a standout place to play.
“What’s going to make it different than just touring? I want it to be a room that people remember playing and look forward to playing.”
The location was also a big pull for Styles.
He finds the idea of giving a “music city” like Manchester, a brand new, large-scale concert building, “incredibly exciting.”
Styles’ first job was as a paperboy for a Co-op store in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, — delivering newspapers for “a few quid” before school — so working with them now feels like a full-circle moment. (Most of his paper route earnings got spent on candy, he said.)
“Maybe the first show they’ll make me deliver the papers to every seat,” he joked.
Styles’ dad lives in Manchester. The northern English city was recently placed under strict restrictions by the U.K. government due to the number of coronavirus cases.
“It’s a difficult time. Manchester is going to come back. It just will. Like everywhere, it’s about people protecting each other.”
The pandemic put a stop to his plans for touring to support his “Fine Line” album until December 2020.
Styles remains philosophical about this delay. His dates have been moved to 2021 and he said he’s more concerned with keeping his crew and fans safe.
He’s instead been able to use this time to start acting again in a “great project,” the psychological thriller, “Don’t Worry, Darling,” directed by Olivia Wilde and starring Florence Pugh.
“You try and put so much of yourself into music and then you’re trying to actively remove that from any acting,” he said. “I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do two things I love doing.”
Source: AP News
Two weeks ago, the stark phrase “HE CUT HIS HAIR” began trending on social media. I can confirm its truth: the One Direction member turned solo star Harry Styles has indeed cut his hair. The usual curly tresses are gone, scissored into a tousled, swept-back look. It’s for a film role he’s currently shooting in Los Angeles. But the star hasn’t joined me on a Zoom call to discuss traumatic haircuts. Instead, we’re discussing what’s being billed as his first venture into the world of business.
Styles is the public face of a new arena to be built in Manchester, which will be one of the largest indoor venues in the UK when it opens in 2023. It’s being built by the US entertainment company Oak View Group at a projected cost of £350m. The capacity will be 23,500. Following a link-up with the Manchester-based business The Co-operative Group, it will be called Co-op Live.
“It feels like full circle for me to be doing this,” Styles says, speaking in what looks like the stainless steel confines of his LA film trailer. He grew up near Manchester, in a village in the neighbouring county Cheshire. “My first job was with the Co-op, it was delivering papers for them,” he recalls.
Manchester was where he went to gigs with friends. It was also where he auditioned for the television talent show The X Factor in 2010 when he was 16, singing an unaccompanied version of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”. It led to him joining the boy band One Direction. Transcending their talent show origins (they came third on The X Factor), Styles and his bandmates became a global phenomenon. They were the first band in US chart history to have their first four albums debut at number one, outdoing even The Beatles.
With his newly shorn hair, a green jacket with big stitching, a T-shirt with blue palm trees and a cross dangling from his neck, Styles manages even on a visually unflattering Zoom call to look the part of the teen heart-throb. But, whereas other boy band singers have struggled to establish themselves as individual acts, Styles has made a handsome success of it. He launched a solo career in 2016 and has released two accomplished hit albums. In 2017, he made his acting debut in Christopher Nolan’s war film Dunkirk. He’s currently shooting Olivia Wilde’s horror-thriller, Don’t Worry Darling.
Diversification from the evanescent world of teen-pop continues with his involvement in the Co-op Live arena. It links him with two big names in the US entertainment industry. Tim Leiweke, former CEO of the concert promoter AEG, and Irving Azoff, former CEO of Ticketmaster, run Oak View Group, the company building the arena. Azoff’s son Jeffrey Azoff is Styles’s manager. “This is a big project and it would be a lot scarier if I was with people I didn’t know,” the singer says.
He has a financial stake in it as an investor. “I didn’t get into music because I wanted to be a businessman,” he says. “I got into music because I love music. That’s always going to be a first for me. But when an opportunity like this comes up, for me it feels so much about what I can bring to it as a musician, and also as a fan.”
Construction of the arena is due to begin in November. Styles has a vaguely defined role as an adviser in its design and decor. “Obviously I’m not an expert architecturally, in terms of building an arena,” he says. “I guess the weight of my involvement falls into the idea of what you want backstage as an artist. People operate in different ways after a show. Some people like a quiet space, some people like a place where you can invite all your friends.”
Arenas have a reputation as soulless venues, the kind of interchangeable setting where a forgetful star can get the name of the city wrong (as happened to Bruce Springsteen in 2016 when he cried, “Party noises, Pittsburgh!” during a show in Cleveland).
Even at the tender age of 26, Styles is a veteran of these cavernous spaces, which he refers to as “rooms”.
“There’s a lot of cold rooms that you can play in,” he says. “You definitely remember being in the ones that sound better, the ones in which you can create some sort of feeling of being at home. As an artist, it’s rare to find that if you’re touring for months at a time, to go in these big rooms and feel that comfortable.”
Manchester’s new arena is being designed to maximise sightlines between performer and audience. “That’s usually the first thing that you miss when you go into big rooms,” he says. “There’s a point when you’re doing shows and you can see the whites of people’s eyes and you can have that connection with people. It’s easy to lose that if you can’t see people’s faces.”
The first time he sang in public was in the canteen of his Cheshire school, for a music competition. He recalls the feeling of exhilaration: “You’re so used to sitting in the classroom and looking up at your teachers. All of a sudden everyone’s down there and the teachers are looking up at you.”
He gets the same sensation when performing for tens of thousands of people. “It’s obviously on a different scale but that feeling is very much the same,” he says. “I think it’s the same chemical. It’s just like such an unnatural thing. It’s kind of like — this isn’t supposed to be like this, this isn’t how life works. That kind of adrenalin I think is just something that you wish you could share with people that you know. It’s a beautiful thing, it’s a really special moment.”
The coronavirus pandemic poses an existential threat to venues. “It’s such a strange time to be talking about live music, because right now it just doesn’t exist,” Styles says. He insists that the Co-op Live is designed to enhance Manchester’s live infrastructure, not overwhelm it. (The city already has one of the UK’s largest indoor venues, the AO Arena.)
“The purpose is not in any way to try to monopolise the city in terms of music,” he says. “It’s about bringing more music to Manchester, wanting to bring more artists there, to use this building as a reminder of why it’s such a great music city, not trying to wipe out other venues.”
After its projected completion in 2023, Co-op Live will be able to welcome its celebrity investor on stage (“If they’ll have me. I’ll have to speak to someone and ask about that”). In the meanwhile, Styles is due to embark on a world tour next February, although the pandemic has cast it in doubt.
“It’s one of those things of just seeing how things go,” he says. “I don’t think anyone wants to be putting on a tour before it’s safe to do so. There will be a time we dance again, but until then I think it’s about protecting each other and doing everything we can to be safe. And then when it’s ready and people want to, we shall play music.”
Harry was spotted filming his new music video ‘Golden’ in the Almafi Coast, Italy.
CANDIDS > 2020 > SEPTEMBER 23 – FILMING HIS NEW MUSIC VIDEO FROM NEW SINGLE ‘GOLDEN’ ON THE AMALFI COAST
Harry Styles‘ “Watermelon Sugar” takes the top seed on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, becoming his first No. 1 on the ranking, as it blasts from No. 7. Styles is the second member of One Direction to have led the Hot 100, following Zayn with “Pillowtalk” in 2016. “Watermelon Sugar,” released on Erskine/Columbia Records, is the 1,107th No. 1 in the Hot 100’s 62-year history. Here’s a deeper look at the song’s coronation.
No. 1 sales, No. 2 in airplay: “Watermelon Sugar” bounds 9-1 on the Digital Song Sales chart, up 614% to 63,000 downloads sold in the week ending Aug. 6, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. It pushes 3-2 on Radio Songs, up 8% to 71.7 million audience impressions in the week ending Aug. 9, and jumps 29-18 on Streaming Songs, although down 1% to 14.2 million U.S. streams in the week ending Aug. 6.
The song was on sale in Styles’ webstore via three physical/digital combination offerings during the tracking week ending Aug. 6. Consumers could buy cassette and vinyl singles (priced at $14.98-$15.98), with each purchase including a digital download; the download (the sale of which contributed to the latest tracking week) would be sent upon purchase, with physical versions due to arrive at a later date. The song (its original version and an instrumental) was also sale-priced to 69 cents at all digital retailers during the tracking week.
Styles scores his second Digital Song Sales No. 1, after “Sign of the Times” led for a week upon its debut in April 2017. On Radio Songs, he matches his best rank; prior single “Adore You” peaked at No. 2 in early July.
New videos, #WatermelonSugarDay: Further enhancing the profile for “Watermelon Sugar” in the tracking week, an official “behind the scenes” video for the song premiered July 31, while a “lost tour visual” clip arrived Aug. 3.
Harry’s history: As Styles achieves his first Hot 100 No. 1, he surpasses his prior best rank, earned when “Sign of the Times” debuted and peaked at No. 4 in April 2017. In his other top 10 visit as a soloist, “Adore You” reached No. 6 this April.
One Direction, two leaders: Styles becomes the second member of One Direction to have led the Hot 100, following Zayn, whose “Pillowtalk” reigned in its debut week in February 2016.
As a group, One Direction has tallied six Hot 100 top 10s, reaching a No. 2 best. Its debut smash “What Makes You Beautiful” hit No. 4 in April 2012, followed by “Live While We’re Young” (No. 3, October 2012); “Best Song Ever” (No. 2, August 2013); “Story of My Life” (No. 6, November 2013); “Drag Me Down” (No. 3, August 2015); and “Perfect” (No. 10, November 2015).
1D is, thus, now among an elite listing of groups with multiple members that have topped the Hot 100 solo. The Beatles became the first such act, when, after landing a record 20 No. 1s in 1964-70, George Harrison and Paul McCartney earned their first leaders apart from the band in 1970 and 1971, respectively. (By 1974, Ringo Starr and John Lennon also led solo.)
Sweet success: Styles’ new Hot 100 No. 1 marks the first leader with “watermelon” in its title. One such song previously hit the top 10: Mongo Santamaria Band’s “Watermelon Man” (No. 7, 1963).
If you were to invent an artist to keep the flame burning for classic rock in a musical mainstream increasingly unfriendly to the genre’s traditions, they’d probably look and sound a lot like Harry Styles.
A dashing, long-haired, highly fashionable and occasionally gender-bending young Briton who dates pop stars and supermodels, makes free-love music videos, worships at the altars of Mick Jagger and Stevie Nicks and sells out arenas worldwide with his guitar-based, lightly psychedelic pop-rock? At times, Styles’ superstardom almost feels fictional, like some character a middle-aged writer would draw up for Russell Brand to play in a slapstick comedy, despite the archetype being almost entirely absent from the last decade-plus of popular music.
But it isn’t just real, it’s still growing. Styles’ sophomore LP Fine Line posted one of the best first-week numbers of 2019 — moving 478,000 equivalent album units in its first week, double the first-week number for his 2017 self-titled debut — and it’s still in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart seven months later. While traditional radio success eluded Harry on his first album, Fine Line has seen two of its singles, “Adore You” and “Watermelon Sugar,” wholeheartedly embraced on the airwaves, becoming his first two top five hits on Billboard‘s Pop Songs chart — and his first two top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 since his solo debut “Sign of the Times” bowed at No. 4.
Yet for all his current success and acclaim, the world’s biggest young rock star continues to be ignored at rock radio. While he appears well on his way to becoming a pop radio fixture, Styles has never even cracked any of Billboard‘s rock or alternative airplay charts.
Rock radio’s initial reluctance to embrace Styles was hardly surprising, given his musical roots as one-fifth of the massively successful vocal group One Direction. Despite having their own fair share of rock-flavored hits, 1D was considered to be firmly in the pop lane, especially by radio. So have virtually all rock-leaning groups to fall under the “boy band” umbrella, even including acts like the Jonas Brothers and 5 Seconds of Summer who play some or all of their own instruments. Even though Styles‘ solo debut was clearly more indebted to David Bowie and Queen than Michael Jackson and ABBA, he was still very much “Harry Styles of One Direction” — and like all the group’s alums, had to prove himself as an artist outside of their well-established milieu.
However, at this point, Harry Styles no longer needs the “of One Direction” to establish his place in the musical mainstream — he is very much a solo star in his own right, with his own identity (and plenty of his own fans) totally outside of 1D’s massive shadow. And as his own artist, though many of his songs are pop-accessible, his chosen lane is obviously rock, as evident by his (oft-namechecked) classic rock influences, his full-band setup, and his predominantly guitar- and piano-driven songs. As traditional rock music continues to fade from contemporary relevance, and youth-appealing, streaming-embraced stars like Styles are in particularly short supply, there would certainly be good reason to embrace him as part of the format — particularly at alternative radio, where many stations have already begun to stretch their playlists to include pop-approved, less traditionally rock stars like Billie Eilish and Post Malone.
Part of the reason for this is, simply, that Styles‘ label Columbia Records isn’t actively working his songs to rock or alternative radio. Even in a streaming age where programmers don’t need to literally be sent an artist’s song to have the ability to play it, that still matters. Radio columnist Sean Ross (of the Ross on Radio newsletter) explains that songs not being promoted to a certain radio format “tends to be the number one explanation for, “Why isn’t anybody playing this?'”
“I wish radio, in general, showed more enterprise on music,” Ross says. “But there’s no reason to expect that even the stations that play a quirky, pop-leaning version of the alternative format would go out of their way to play a Harry Styles song without being asked.”
It’s also worth noting that pop radio has also been slow to embrace Styles — even going back to the One Direction days, where despite the group’s massive popularity, they only ever notched two top 5 hits on Mainstream Top 40 (as many as Styles has already as a solo artist). By choosing “Adore You” as an advance single from Fine Line — following the more reintroductory first taste “Lights Up” — Styles’ team made their priorities clear. “Last time around, Harry Styles presented himself as a rock artist, and didn’t find a home at rock or pop radio,” Ross says. “This time, he’s clearly pursuing pop radio with the singles that have been chosen.”
One place on rock radio where Styles might have better luck finding a home is at Adult Alternative, where both “Sign of the Times” and “Watermelon Sugar” have received airplay. It’s not a ton in either case — “Watermelon Sugar” is currently only being played at two stations reporting to Billboard‘s Triple A listing, WCLX in Burlington, Vt. and KVYN in Napa Valley, Calif. But neither station views playing the song as all that out of character for their brand.
“It fits what we’re doing, and we don’t care where it came from,” WCLX programmer Chip Morgan explains. “We like Harry… and that’s it. It’s a great summer song.” Playing a song by a top 40 artist who comes from the pop world doesn’t mean a ton to Morgan, because he says that they “don’t pay attention to top 40” at WCLX anyway. “Before [‘Adore You’], we didn’t really know that much about [Styles],” he admits.
Despite his younger-leaning core following, it makes sense that Styles might also appeal to more Adult Alternative listeners, because his older musical reference points are actually much more in line with traditional Gen X and boomer sensibilities than the millennials and Gen Z-ers that mostly comprise his fanbase. “On KVYN, it wouldn’t be a rare thing to have a mix of music where Harry Styles was donuted in between Tom Waits and the Grateful Dead,” explains Nate Campbell, director of music and programming for the station. “I’m sure other radio programmers would laugh at this, and that’s fine with me. But that’s how we are choosing to try and entertain our market. And reception has been good, I’d say.”
It’s unclear whether the rock radio world will ever fully accept Harry Styles as their own — or if Styles’ own team will see much advantage in pushing him as such, when they’ve already conquered the much-bigger pop world. But Morgan and Campbell agree that it’s crucial for radio programmers in 2020 to be open-minded when it comes to filling their playlists, and not to be too influenced by what musical world an artist originally comes from.
“I may have some reservations in the back of my mind about ‘credibility’ when it comes to some pop acts,” Campbell admits. “But I think it’s important to quickly move past my own biases, based on my belief that [our genre’s defintion] IS amorphous now — it’s a completely different listening world now in this streaming era. And it’s important to take that into consideration when trying to blend your radio station in with that listening landscape.”