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Harry Styles’ First Steps in a New Direction

Grace Robblee, Entertainment Editor

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Ever since 2010 and their meteoric rise to fame after being a fan favorite on The X Factor, all eyes have been on One Direction. For the past seven years, the five boys, Harry, Louis, Niall, Liam, and Zayn have been under heavy scrutiny, while at the same time, fans begged for solo projects and speculated who would go solo first (Spoiler Alert: it was Zayn). After a year-long hiatus, the four remaining members of 1D have all started their journeys as solo artists. Niall released his debut single “This Town,” in September of 2016, Louis collaborated with Steve Aoki on the dance track, “Just Hold On,” this past winter, and Liam is set to release a song with Quavo of rap group Migos in late May. Yet,  it wasn’t until recently that the fan-favorite, Harry Styles, stepped into the spotlight on his own.

Harry Styles released his debut album Harry Styles on Friday, May 12. The self-titled album features 10 songs, including “Sign of the Times,” his first single. The album boasts a contemporary rock-pop sound, with heavy influences from singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 70s, and rock music of the 70s and 80s. The more upbeat tracks on the record, Carolina, Kiwi, Woman, and Only Angel have received high praise, being compared to the works of The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and even Prince. Some have gone so far as to criticize Styles of copying their entire sound, while others have praised the bold step away from the pop scene his boy band had dominated. According to Styles, although his influences are from past decades, his goal was not to recreate them, but instead to push forward and make his own sound, different from anything that would be playing on the radio.

As for the inspiration behind the album, Styles told Rolling Stone that he wanted to be honest. Producer Jeff Bhasker said that the album “made me realize the Harry [in One D] was kind of the digitized Harry. Almost like a character.” With the release of his album, Harry hopes to show not only his fans, but the entire world, who was hiding behind that character for years. Styles has maintained his position that he isn’t altogether concerned with the success of the album in the industry, but more so his ability to communicate in a way he couldn’t when confined to One Direction’s pure pop and sometimes vapid lyrics.

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Harry Styles’ First Steps in a New Direction