Harry Styles, a popular English singer-songwriter from the chart-topping band One Direction, has never been one for a soft album release: shortly before release of his second album Fine Line’s lead single "Lights Up," several billboards were raised displaying the track’s lyrics in cities worldwide.
Following this, marketing for a tourism agency in Eroda — “adore” backwards — appeared on social media to tease the release of “Adore You.” The elaborate fictitious island brought life to the album’s second single, maintaining a meaningful presence in the song’s music video. The album itself rose to become a hit in its own right. It drew compliments from even the most well-known artists, including Fleetwood Mac’s own Stevie Nicks. Nicks extended her praise in a single hit tweet, stating “Way to go H.~ It [Fine Line] is your ‘Rumours.’”
It seems to many that an album of this caliber seems almost impossible to top; after all, “Rumours” is yet to be surpassed, neither interpretively nor statistically, by any other Fleetwood Mac album.
In the lead up to Friday’s release of “Harry’s House,” Styles has once again been generating buzz. An exclusive interview conducted by New Zealand DJ Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 revealed Styles’ revelatory journey through the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the creation of his third studio album.
The hour-long chat between the two covered all aspects of life for popular musicians. Beyond touring, songwriting and producing, they broke down the phonetic and semantic components of a few of the upcoming album’s 13 songs. This is only a small component in what has caused this release to rise to the top of the music industry food chain since its announcement in late March.
Keeping up with the artist’s inclination toward the extravagant, the release of “Harry’s House” began as an anticipated hum within his community of fans on Twitter. Speculations arose when a curious new handle appeared on social media. @Youarehome began posting mysterious images hidden behind the same crude graphic of a door, which fans gladly theorized about.
On Twitter, cryptic phrases appeared day after day — song lyrics perhaps — each appearing without any assured explanation. The pattern continued through March 28, when an image of a jumpsuit-clad Styles stretching with his back to the camera announced the release of the single “As it Was.”
In this first taste of “Harry’s House,” listeners experienced a pop track with upbeat rhythms resembling the snare-heavy LinnDrum drum machine you may recognize from Aha’s “Take On Me.” Judging by how Styles’ two previous records dripped with contemporary rock references, including ones from the likes of Badfinger and Bowie, fans expect a similar curation of vintage aesthetics within the upcoming collection of songs.
In the interview with Lowe, Styles likened the upbeat new single to a “death march,” stating,
“‘As It Was’ to me is bittersweet,” Styles said. “It's really devastating, and it was very much written that way.”
Touching on the subversiveness of the track, the artist revealed how devastating the lyrics happen to be underneath the song’s upbeat tempo. Many tracks in “Fine Line” exhibit this same quality; “Adore You”, for example, poses the lyrics “You don't have to say you love me / You don't have to say nothing / You don’t have to say you’re mine” within a mid tempo psychedelic pop arrangement.
“As It Was” has proven to be a stellar single right out of the gate, debuting at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and tying with Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” as the fastest song to reach 100 million streams on Spotify. The track is the second biggest Spotify release of all time and the best ever for a male artist.
Seemingly too excited to keep the new songs under wraps, Styles has already played four new tracks in front of live audiences. In two highly-anticipated performances during the two weekends of the Coachella music festival, Styles performed “Boyfriends” and “Late Night Talking” along with, of course, “As It Was.” These two new tracks, especially the latter, exhibit 1980s pop influences with the tiniest hint of psychedelic pop notes.
Most recently, Styles performed an electric guitar-heavy (thanks, Mitch) arrangement of the fifth song on the new record, “Daylight.”
Of these tracks, Styles revealed that “Boyfriends” was the most difficult to write, stating that its production was a complicated process.
“We did so many versions of it,” mentioned Styles in the interview with Lowe before adding that his band has worked on vocal, acoustic, electric guitar and jumptrack iterations of “Boyfriends.”
Styles also delved into the musical production and lyrical composition involved in each of the soon-to-be released tracks on “Harry’s House.”
With the release date of Harry Styles’ third album Harry’s House only a few hours away, the mystery of what sounds we’ll hear is only moments away from being solved.
In the meantime, limited edition merch is available to order online. If you’re looking for a CD or vinyl copy, you can check out B Side Records on State Street. Additionally, exclusive pop-up stands will be located in Chicago during limited times between May 20 and May 22. Or, if you’re a particularly passionate fan, check out the ones in London or New York available until the 26th.
With the upcoming release of “Harry’s House”, Styles and his team have successfully pulled in more attention than any of his previous albums. Further, Stevie Nicks’ nod toward the success that has surrounded “Fine Line” generated an enormous level of expectation around this new release. Whether or not this record lives up to Styles’ growing musical reputation, it is anticipated to be his most-streamed and most creative release to date.