This just in: Variety has named Harry Styles their Hitmaker of the Year. It’s been exactly a week since the Grammy nominations were announced last Wednesday and this cover story was likely timed around that, with the expectation that he would be contending for Album or Song or Record of the Year and this would kick off the next phase of his campaign. As we know now, while Harry did get nominated, he and his album Fine Line were shut out of the major categories. That said, this piece is about Harry’s career, his commitment to the art, and it makes the case for why he should be taken seriously as a musician…although he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to the definition of what a “serious musician” has to be.
“People within [the industry] feel like they operate on a higher level of listening, and I like to make music from the point of being a fan of music,” Styles says. “Fans are the best A&R.”
That is a subtle challenge to the kind of Grammy and music people who are all about a certain kind of musicianship or musical sound. And they dictate what is and isn’t “real” music and worthy of prestigious recognition. Oftentimes that doesn’t include “popular music”. They know better than the fan. And in Harry’s case, because he came from boyband roots, and his fans, initially, were younger, and many of the most vocal ones are female, well, you know how that works and how what teens and teen girls are into are often dismissed. Harry’s always been an advocate for the value of what young women are into – and sure, he’s a direct beneficiary of it, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t mean it. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a point: that what teens like and follow, what women like and follow, is just as relevant, artistically and socially, as what the men decide has cultural merit.
As for the boyband thing and the knock on artists who get their start as part of one, Harry is the anti-thesis of Justin Timberlake. And says as much here:
“When you look at the history of people coming out of bands and starting solo careers, they feel this need to apologize for being in the band. ‘Don’t worry, everyone, that wasn’t me! Now I get to do what I really want to do.’ But we loved being in the band,” he says. “I think there’s a wont to pit people against each other. And I think it’s never been about that for us. It’s about a next step in evolution. The fact that we’ve all achieved different things outside of the band says a lot about how hard we worked in it.”
It's a thorough piece, and worth the read, and he looks great in the pictures too. As always, Harry is DRESSED. Interestingly enough, he used one of the shots on his Instagram today and you might remember, a couple of weeks ago, after his Vogue cover story came out, there were certain conservative commentators who took issue with how he presents his masculinity. Many people stood up for Harry but he’s never addressed it directly… until now:
You know what I love about this? Obviously the fact that he’s answering those assholes. But also that it’s on delay. He waited because he knew he had a card to play, another photo to show, and so he held off so that went he played it, he’d be able to maximise the effect. I appreciate the restraint.
And I so appreciate this look – the big cuffs, the pleats, and the banana, ha.
Also attached, Harry on set of Don't Worry Darling with Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde yesterday in Palm Springs.