This Charming Man: Why We’re Wild About Harry Styles
“We’ll dance again,” Harry Styles coos, the Los Angeles sunshine peeking through his pandemic-shaggy hair just so. The singer, songwriter and actor — beloved and critically acclaimed thanks to his life-affirming year-old album, “Fine Line” — is lamenting that his Variety Hitmaker of the Year cover conversation has to be conducted over Zoom rather than in person.
And for the first time, he’s using his megaphone to speak out about social justice — inspired by the outpouring of support for Black people around the world following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.
Styles has spent much of the past nine months at home in London, where life has slowed considerably.
Why do these particular songs resonate in 2020? Styles doesn’t have the faintest idea. While he acknowledges a “nursery rhyme” feel to “Watermelon Sugar” with its earwormy loop of a chorus, that’s about as much insight as he can offer.
Contemporary effects and on-trend beats hardly factor into Styles’ decision-making. He likes to focus on feelings — his own and his followers’ — and see himself on the other side of the velvet rope, an important distinction in his view.
His bandmates also benefited from the pop star boot camp. The proof is in the relatively seamless solo transitions of at least three of its members — Payne, Malik and Horan in addition to Styles — each of whom has landed hit singles on charts in the U.K., the U.S. and beyond.
Also shaping his musical DNA was Manchester itself, the site of a 23,500-seat arena, dubbed Co-op Live, for which Styles is an investor and adviser. Oak View Group, represents Styles at Full Stop Management), is leading the effort to construct the venue (see rendering below).
Though Styles has owned properties in Los Angeles, his base for the foreseeable future is London. “I feel like my relationship with L.A. has changed a lot,” he explains. “I’ve kind of accepted that I don’t have to live here anymore; for a while I felt like I was supposed to. Like it meant things were going well. This happened, then you move to L.A.! But I don’t really want to.”
Hope at the company and in many fans’ hearts that Styles would receive an album of the year nomination did not come to pass. However, he was recognized in three categories, including best pop vocal album.