Have you listened to Harry's House yet? We've been poring over each one of Styles' new songs and can't help but feel like the 28-year-old Englishman has played a big part in defining the music of the late 2010s and early 20s. His songs just keep getting more mature and universal. We love to see the growth!
Harry's got the loverboy look down (all thanks to his former One Direction credentials), but he's also unafraid to stuff his music with heart-wrenching vulnerability, party pitches, and vintage-sounding experimentation. He's the kind of artist whose work sounds good on a vinyl player, or at a coffee shop, or even on the beach. Harry Styles is chill, hip, and well...as his surname suggests, always in style!
To celebrate Harry's meteoric success over the years, we're looking back at his most beloved hits. For this list, we'll be keeping our picks to originals only and excluding any One Direction standouts. Just stuff from his self-titled album, Fine Line, and Harry's House!
Without further ado, let's turn the lights up on our first pick of the bunch...
10. "Lights Up"
Sorry, we couldn't help telling another joke. Yes, "Lights Up" from 2019's Fine Line takes our #10 spot. We feel it's the song in his catalogue which shows off his musical range the most. It was released as Styles' first single of that year, and coincided with National Coming Out Day. It was accompanied by a beachy music video, which features Harry surrounded by scantily-clad men and women.
"Lights Up" features a mix of glorious vocals and melancholy lyrics. Styles has described the track as being "the most unorthodox song I've ever made" and explained the meaning of it to Capital FM. "I mean, for me, I think, the song is about, like, you know, freedom and, I guess, self-reflection, self-discovery..." he said. "I guess a couple things that I’d kind of thought about and, I guess, wrestled with a little bit of the last couple of years and then, I think, the song’s kind of about me just accepting those things."
Dreamy, upbeat, and warm, you can't help but feel like you're "back to the light" while listening to "Golden." This was placed as the opening track to Fine Line: a masterful choice by Mr. Styles.
Ultimately, "Golden" reveals the highs and ultimate fears a person experiences during the honeymoon phase of a new relationship. “Golden” also helps set the tone for the rest of Fine Line, which is about moving on from heartbreak. With its echoey tenor harmonies, free-flying guitar riffs, and Harry's grounded main vocals, "Golden" is just a really good time.
And yes, "Golden" is also associated with good times for Styles. "My favourite memory from making this album [Fine Line] was the day we wrote ‘Golden’," he told Zane Lowe. "We were all sat in the kitchen at [Rick Rubin’s recording studio] Shangri-La, having dinner, and we played it on one guitar while everyone sang around the table. It just felt really good."
Considered Harry's most emotional ballad, "Falling" is another track off Fine Line which discusses the fear of becoming a stranger to yourself. "I had started to feel myself becoming someone I didn’t want to be, and that was really hard," Harry said about the song while speaking to Zane Lowe.
Since "Falling" follows happy-go-lucky tracks like "Watermelon Sugar" and "Adore You" on Fine Line, its sudden sadness hits you like a ton of bricks. Harry brings his agony to life in this stirring piano piece about losing a loved one due to his internal changes. "What am I now? What am I now? / What if I'm someone I don't want around?" Harry croons in a vulnerable tenor voice. We think this track is the most cry-able of Harry's tunes.
7. "Music For a Sushi Restaurant"
The opening track on Harry's House, "Music For a Sushi Restaurant" is similar to "Lights Up" in the sense it's eclectic for a Styles song. What sets it apart from its predecessor is a certain refinement, a certain throwback element, and vivid, poetic imagery that will make your mouth water.
With thumping bass, blaring trumpets, and astounding vocals from Harry, "Music For a Sushi Restaurant" brings the needed energy to get listeners hooked on the rest of the album. We love Harry's descending "ba ba ba's" and his high-pitched scattered vocal bits. Like a piece of sushi, this song is rolled up in so many delicious elements that combine to make a tasty dish.
This song mingles smooth jazz and funky ‘70s pop. Styles sings about making sushi while relating it to his desire for a relationship – the main theme on Harry's House. In a May 2022 interview with NPR, Harry revealed the story behind the freaky song: "I was in a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles with my producer and one of our songs came on from the last album, and I kind of said, like, “This is really strange music for a sushi restaurant.”
He also added that the song's title was in the running to be the name of the album: "I was like, that would be a really fun album title, but then as the song started being made I kind of just set on 'Music for a Sushi Restaurant.'"
6. "Sign of the Times"
This debut solo single made us realize Harry had a very bright future past One Direction. Remember Harry's breakout performance of this on SNL? Time flies.
“Sign of the Times” is a slow paced pop-rock track about avoiding emotion and reality during distressing times of grief, hardship, and inequality. Harry told Rolling Stone, "The song is written from a point of view as if a mother was giving birth to a child and there’s a complication. The mother is told, ‘The child is fine, but you’re not going to make it.’ The mother has five minutes to tell the child, ‘Go forth and conquer.’" According to Genius, the song draws inspiration from ‘70s rock jams from artists like David Bowie and Queen.
The song's release date and title were announced by Styles on Twitter on March 31, 2017: aptly coinciding with the 30th anniversary of Prince’s ninth studio album, Sign O' the Times. Although Harry’s song shares a name with a song of Prince’s, the similarities do not continue beyond that. Although a collaborator of Prince’s, Sheena Easton, has stated the “Purple maestro” would have approved of Harry's tune.
“Sign of the Times” debuted atop the UK Official Singles chart and landed at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. And after all these years, we still love it!
A fan favorite of Fine Line, "Cherry" is a folksy ballad written about Harry's ex-girlfriend, French model Camille Rowe. It was penned following their break-up in July 2018, during a time when Harry was feeling “not great.” Camille's gentle voice is even featured in the song. You can hear her say "Coucou" in the beginning of the track, and the end features a section of French dialogue spoken by her.
Although "Cherry" is emotional just like "Falling," it doesn't feel as overwhelmingly sentimental. It's smooth yet sad. Delicate, yet durable. On the song, Harry said during his big 2019 Zane Lowe interview, "I wanted to be true to [the breakup]. I wanted it to be true to how I was feeling then, in that moment. It was all part of being more open and not like, ‘I don’t care.’"
He added: "You get petty when something’s not going the way that you want, and ‘Cherry' is pathetic in a way. The night that I wrote it, everyone had left the studio, it was me, Tyler and Sammy, who is our engineer. I was feeling a lot of pressure because the last record wasn’t a radio record. I felt a lot of pressure to be making these big songs. You know, I have all these ideas about records that I want to make, and ‘I wanna make this record in 5 years, and I wanna make this record in 10 years’… and Tyler just said to me, ‘You just have to make the record that you wanna make right now, that’s it.’ So then we stayed up and wrote “Cherry” that night."
4. "Late Night Talking"
A standout on Harry's House we think is bound to play on the radio real soon! An ode to the whimsy of "the talking stage," "Late Night Talking" is bouncy, fun, sultry, and sleek. It cranks up the '70s vibes with some cool sounds and romantic lyrics. We love the keys and steady beat! It's all bound to make you smile.
Rumor has it this track is about Olivia Wilde, Styles' current partner. In fact, several songs on Harry's House are rumored to be about her. "Late Night Talking" made its debut the same time Harry Styles took the Coachella stage in 2022. Critics have been praising this song for its catchiness and flirty vibes. It's a track made for peaceful afternoons and easy listening, and its a great song to sing karaoke to!
3. "Adore You"
Oh, how much we adore "Adore You." From Harry's out-of-the-park vocal performance to the explosive chorus and even that cute music video which takes the Finding Nemo phrase "fish are friends, not food" to a whole new level..."Adore You" is a straight-up vibe.
“Adore You” is the third single on Fine Line. Considered the poppiest track on the album, it features Harry speaking about his love and passion for a significant other, and the extent to which he would do things for his lover. It's another great Harry song about the honeymoon/infatuation stage – definitely the best Harry song involving the topic. C'mon...that opening "Walk in your rainbow paradise / Strawberry lipstick state of mind?" What a lyrical hook!
Regarding the song's creation, Styles told RADIO.COM, "We wrote this in a day, we just had so much fun making it. They’re usually the ones that end up kind of working the best, the ones where everyone’s having fun making it […] they kind of just write themselves. It was definitely a good experience, making this song, very excited to have it out."
2. "Watermelon Sugar"
Another great food-themed song from Styles, and the other track on Fine Line, besides "Cherry," to have a fruit in the title.
"Watermelon Sugar" is a true summer bop with its tropical-esque sounds and splashy chorus. Just like the energy of a sugar rush, it's about the addictive feelings of infatuation you feel with a new lover. As for the song's deeper meaning...no one is 100% sure. Obviously its a love song, but its overall message is debatable. Some think its about R-rated stuff involving mouths (as brought up by Timothee Chalamet in SNL) while others believe its another connection to Camille Rowe due to the fact one of her favorite books is In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan.
"Watermelon Sugar" was released without warning to fans, less than an hour before Styles performed the upbeat track during his hosting debut for Saturday Night Live. Many listeners believe his older pop-rock song "Kiwi" is a predecessor to this track. Styles even tweeted, "Kiwi walked so Watermelon Sugar could run."
This was considered Styles' most iconic song. Until the recent release of...
1. "As It Was"
Yes, that song you've been hearing all over the radio and on TikTok. Maybe it's been overplayed a bunch these days (including Arcade Fire recently bringing a cover of it into the BBC Live Lounge), but still...it's undoubtedly the best song on Harry's House. It may even stand as Styles' magnum opus.
Why? Because it's a mixture of sonic and lyrical genius. Starting with the sounds, "As It Was" features a solid blend of synths and upbeat melodies reminiscent of music from the ‘80s. (Specifically the iconic track "Take On Me" by A-Ha.) Despite the song easily fitting into the pop category, it still has enough experimentation to feel like something all its own. With its slightly melancholy tones and those awesome church bell bits at the end, the sounds of "As It Was" just stand out. Period.
Moving onto the lyrics and message, this is another Harry's House song rumored to be about Olivia Wilde – although it's not explicitly stated. What it is definitively about is change. Styles has described the song as being about “metamorphosis, embracing change and former self, perspective shift and all that kind of stuff.”
Styles got more in-depth with the metamorphosis theme within his Apple Music commentary: "People go, like, 'Alright, we’ll give you a couple more days with this moment and you get to say goodbye to your former self,' or whatever it is, and by the time you realize, it’s already gone. I think a big part of kinda evolution of what music you make as well is, like, it doesn’t matter if people want you to be that thing that they always loved about you or they want you to be that person, because you’re not that person anymore. Everyone is changing, and I think there’s no reason to not approach music that way, and kind of let it change and turn out differently than you started"
Finally, we can't help but mention that famous opening line, "Come on, Harry, we wanna say goodnight to you!" That voice is Harry's little goddaughter, Ruby, whose father is British producer Ben Winston. "[She] got a streak of calling me every night before bed, and I missed it once, and she wanted to let me know that she was quite angry with me," Harry revealed in an interview.
We hope going forward, Styles continues with the experimentation he puts into "As It Was." He was once a hearthrob boy band member simply known for his swoopy hair, and now he's matured into a thoughtful artist with good instrumental taste and lyrical prowess. Just like the overall theme of this track, we hope he keeps evolving.
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