Album Reviews Music

Musical Advent Calendar #8 Harry Styles – Self Titled

I haven’t always been a fan of Harry Styles, but ever since the launch of his solo career, this “Sweet Creature” has surely made me one. The Directioner fangirl culture has always been something I found cringe-worthy and irritating; young girls screaming and crying at a bunch of young men who had songs handed to them on a plate by producers. So, naturally, when I heard that Harry’s new single was released, I avoided it like the plague.

Yet one day I heard a song on the radio called “The Sign of the Times”. It was pretty different to the usual dance-pop music that the charts churn out, so it caught my attention. This song had a soft rock vibe to it and was reminiscent of the seventies era. I had been brought up on Bowie and The Eagles, so there was an air of familiarity, yet there was also a freshness as it was a world apart from current pop music. The vocalist’s voice had a unique and soothing tone to it and I listened out to hear who this new artist was. It was then that the presenter spokefive words that shocked me: “And that was Harry Styles”. How did an artist go from bland boyband to classic rock star in a matter of a couple years?

The day Harry’s self-titled album was released, I eagerly listened, hoping that I would be proved right that “Sign of the Times” wasn’t just a one off. And I was right. The album’s track list varied from emotional soft rock in “Sweet Creature” to a more classic rock in “Kiwi”. This really shows off Harry’s versatility, not only going from pop to rock in transition from One Direction, but also going from different sub-genres within rock in his solo album.

Not only does Harry perform these tracks well, but he also co-writes them, using lyrics and an individual sound. “From the Dining Table” is his favourite track from the album as it reflects life experiences about lost love. Harry was quoted by MTV saying, “I felt like I could just have a good time working out what it would sound like if I made an album.” Harry wants his own unique sound, and this has become one that is far from the sound projected from his One Direction days.

If you think that he’s just another manufactured charts artist like I did, well think again. Harry has proved himself to be a talented musician, both in performing and writing his own music. However, I think that this ties to One Direction have held back some possible fan bases. For example, I showed “The Sign of the Times” to my Dad. Being a Bowie fan himself, I thought he would like the Bowie vibe the track has to it. He was loving the song until I told him who it really was: Harry Styles from One Direction. Even though Harry has earned his place in the rock genre, his label as an ex-boyband member holds him back from gaining access to more fan bases.

So, this has been the story of how I went from skeptic to fan. I dare you to listen to Harry Styles without any preconceptions and see how you really feel about his music afterwards. Who knows, he might become your next “Girl Crush” (pun also intended, sorry).


Amy Layton


We’ve got a playlist packed full of these sorta bangers on Spotify if you need some new discoveries!