Harry Styles Steps It Up, as reviewed by Rishi Deva
One Direction’s Harry Styles steps it up and in front on his debut album. For those of you who don’t know One Direction, they are a huge international boy band whose success represents over $1 billion in the music industry. The reason for the huge success is that they have fans throughout Europe, Asia and America that cross multiple demographics and age – including the generation that actually buys records, concert tickets (lots of them) and merchandise such as perfumes, posters, tour books, t-shirts and anything that can be branded with One Direction.
The band rose to international stardom after the renowned talent show judge Simon Cowell saw them on X Factor. He signed them to a record deal and a licensing deal with Sony Music Entertainment UK. In case you are wondering, they came in third on X Factor.
The band, very active on social media, in collaboration with the label and supported by adoring major media outlets, has a huge fan base, comprised mainly of millions of teenage girls that catapulted One Direction to Beatlemania proportions.
All this branding has made One Direction debut at number one on three consecutive records. As such, it is not surprising that the highly-anticipated Harry Styles debut album, that came out globally on May 12, 2017, grabbed Billboard’s number two position with the single “Sweet Creature”. Interestingly, Niall Horan’s (another member of One Direction) single “Slow Hands”, enters the Billboard charts at number three at the same time.
Harry’s self-titled debut album proves that this artist is a serious pop performer with authentic emotional delivery and some timeless tracks, reminiscent of Elton John, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones and Robbie Williams.
The lead off song “Meet Me In The Hallway”, sounds like a song you would hear on the soundtrack to the classic movie Garden State or a song that the indie supergroup Broken Bells wish they had written. “Meet Me In The Hallway” is a dreamy, tender downtempo tune that feels honest about a boy looking to make it right in a relationship.
“Sign Of The Times”, the first single, released just over a month prior to the album’s launch, has received an impressive 79 million streams on Spotify alone. With a lengthy running time of 5:42, it is less of a radio single than a classic new teen anthem about finding calm in an angry world. In the pre-chorus, Harry cries, “We never learn. We’ve been here before. Why are we always stuck and running from the bullets?”. He leads listeners with a strong masculine voice into the chorus, where he sing “Just stop your crying. It’s a sign of the times. We gotta get away from here. They told me that the end is near. We got to get away from here.”
“Only Angel” and “Kiwi” ooze with confidence, demonstrating that Styles can rock with the same conviction and swagger as Kings of Leon and the Rolling Stones.
Of note, the album is varied in style, yet works well as a cohesive listen. “Ever Since New York” has a Stereophonics and Verve vibe that places Harry at the epicenter of the British Indie rock sound, while “Two Ghosts” sounds like classic America or Bread with a modern production value.
The album’s coda “From The Dining Table” perfectly echoes the tenderness and vulnerability in the opening track “Meet Me In The Hallway”.
While some solo breakouts from major commercial success can feel fabricated, with more dollars than depth behind them, Harry Styles’s solo debut is surprisingly excellent. It puts Styles on the map as a formidable contributor to strong songs, produced and presented with class, care and huge talent.
Rishi Deva is the CEO of Kupid’s Play Records. With two decades of experience in the music industry, Rishi has been nominated for numerous marketing awards and earned a Gold Record in the music industry for management.