Harry Styles

Harry Styles Takes Different Direction in Solo Debut

Can the standout artist of One Direction thrive on a different path?

In mid April, Harry Styles shocked Saturday Night Live viewers with his comedic skills during his turn as Mick Jagger, a campy union soldier, as well as cameos with talk show host Jimmy Fallon.

His primary role was that of SNL’s musical guest that evening, and his two songs revved up the anticipation for his solo album, simply titled Harry Styles, that would drop nearly a month later. Both his acting and his song delivery that night left no doubt in our minds that we were watching Style’s transformation from boy in band to leading front man.

I have to admit, I have not been a One Direction groupie. Unashamedly, I admit I came from the N.K.O.T.B. (New Kids on the Block) era, but Styles and his gang have dominated both prepubescent and teen hearts for the last six years.

Don’t get me wrong, the band certainly has singing chops and someone for everyone. There’s the studious fellow for the bookworms in Niall Horan. Then, of course, a well-polished metrosexual gentlemen, Liam Payne, for those girls who imagine traipsing through a mall hand in hand. Zain Malik took the spot of the punk, tatted up, danger-stud for all the rebels who dreamed of getting on the back of a motorcycle and riding off into the night. Then, last but not least, the unkempt band dudes, Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles, for the girl who imagines drooling as she watches her guy rock out on stage, yet cuddling as he crashes on her couch in his flannel shirt and skinny jeans afterwards.

Out of all the boys to put out a solo debut, it’s not surprise that it was Styles who rose to the challenge. A long time media favorite, he’s had a high profile love life with the likes of Caroline Flack, an X-Factor host fourteen years his senior, and Taylor Swift gracing the tabloid pages as his arm candy. Christopher Nolan also snagged him for his upcoming war epic Dunkirk, due out this July. All his roads have been paved with yellow bricks and pointed to the Emerald City of success.

As soon as I heard about his new album, I was skeptical. Only Justin Timberlake has ever really made a true go of life after a boy band. Many have tried and failed, but Style’s will now be shoulder to shoulder with Timberlake in that category as his new album is nothing short of tremendous.

His variety of songs, is like swinging on a swing set. Starting out slow, pumping your legs and getting higher, then coming back down, letting the wind alone propel you. It starts us out with a love song, Meet Me in the Hallway, that has undertones of John Mayer’s earlier work. Midway through, Style proves he can rock with Kiwi, reviving the hard-hitting 70s’ rock we haven’t heard enough of lately. By the end, From the Dining Table, leaves you with the mental image of a young man in his early twenties sitting at his dining table writing a letter to a lost love, a sort of mellow, musical honey leaving our musical palate satisfied.

Needless to say, my skepticism has been turned on its head and I’m now a full-fledged fan. I’ve no doubt others will feel the same way.

Whatever you think of the boy band craze, Styles new direction has very little to do with his turn in One Direction. It was only the tool to get him a backstage pass to a much bigger show. Maybe he’s as surprised as we are to look out beyond the smoke and lights and see himself right out front.

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Suzanne Crain Miller is a screenwriter, poet, novelist, teacher, reporter and music blogger who resides in Raleigh, N.C. She lives with her husband,...
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