Harry Styles' Debut Album Launched His Imperious Solo Success

Harry Styles' Debut Album Launched His Imperious Solo Success

He may be cruising right now, but the groundwork was laid out four years ago...

Within the space of a couple of months, Harry Styles has won both a GRAMMY and a Brit Award, arguably cruising the apex of his solo stardom. It’s important however, to trace this recent international success back to his debut, which has just turned four years old. 

On May 12th, 2017 the former One Direction singer solidified his solo career with the self-titled, soft rock record ‘Harry Styles’. An era which has an endless list of iconic moments, from his acting debut in Dunkirk, covers such as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’, Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ and Little Big Town’s ‘Girl Crush’, to his intimate short film ‘Harry Styles: Behind the Album’ and Rolling Stone Magazine cover, they all hallmark a period that helps fans understand a little more about what kind of artist Styles really is.

In celebration of its fourth anniversary, here are four key moments which defined the HS1 era.

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‘Harry Styles’ the debut number one album

Delving into a sonic world which reflected his life-long musical tastes, Styles’ debut record whispered soft Cali rock with dreamy tracks such as ‘Ever Since New York’, ‘Meet Me In The Hallway’ and ‘From The Dining Table’.

It’s clear that his love of late 70s bands such as Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, and Bread were a big influence on his tracks, and with that, he was still able to imprint his own mark within the fabric of these slower songs.

Styles’ ability to make old forms sound bright and new is testament to his talent so early on in his solo career. The glam rock energy that was spilled into ‘Kiwi’, ‘Carolina’ and ‘Only Angel’ render the same classic sentiments, but now more as chaotic excitement and complete whimsy. Fans got a taste of what the album would entail with the first single ‘Sign Of The Times’ a month prior to the album’s release.

The five minute soft rock ballad was far away from One Direction’s commercially successful tracks, and yet came as no surprise to those who knew of Harry’s eclectic taste. The mesmerising track needed a fitting video, and one standout moment from all the visuals he’s created is his courageous sky-flying performance. 

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'Secret Troubadour' performance (feat. Stevie Nicks)

In the weeks and months following the album’s release, Styles did a string of performances to promote the record, from the Jonathon Ross Show, to James Cordon’s Late Late Show, SNL and an ‘At The BBC’ set.

Yet the most impactful has to be his performance with Stevie Nicks at West Hollywood’s Troubadour. The emotive and harmonious rendition of the 1975 classic ‘Landslide’ allowed fans to gain an insight into the singer’s vocal vulnerability. Styles was unable to finish the song, and seeing the singer starstruck, as any normal person would be when performing with their idol, revealed a normalcy to the star himself. He’s a fangirl just like us.

The sweet duo also performed ‘Two Ghosts’ and ‘Leather and Lace’ that night and made sure to make it an unforgettable and emotionally charged gig.

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The face of Gucci’s tailoring campaign

It’s no secret that Harry Styles pushes boundaries when it comes to his fashion. He’s far from people-pleasing and more about his own personal tastes.

The singer showed this early on in the One Direction days, from Jack Wills jumpers to beige chinos - he always understood the assignment. Comments were made on his appearance when he began growing out his hair, wearing bandanas, and adorning himself in bright colours and funky prints. Particularly the floral Gucci suit he wore at the 2015 AMAs.

Eventually, all this leads us to his first professional promotional job with Gucci for their tailoring campaign which, in one image, captures the singer modelling an embroidered collar jacket whilst carrying a pet chicken.

Effortlessly cool as always, the campaign came out as the HS1 era was nearing its end, and gave us a glimpse into what would become of Harry’s ever-evolving and impactful fashion choices. 

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Harry Styles: Live On Tour

Harry’s epic two-part tour was a defining part of the self-titled period. From O2 Apollos in 2017, to arenas across the world in 2018, the singer brought the studio recordings to surreal life through his infectious and compelling stage presence. Each show had a unique quality, from fan interactions and intense adrenaline rushes induced by guitarist Mitch Rowland and drummer Sarah Jones, the live tour was more than a show, rather an entire experience.

Even from the way Styles presented himself, to the support acts he picked, bringing on star-studded talent to accompany him on the shows, such as Muna, Mabel, Leon Bridges and Kacey Musgraves, it added to the thrill of it all.

One standout from the tour was his sold out two night residency at Madison Square Garden. Now a master of rock 'n' roll moves, Harry’s charm never wavered and his shows lived up to their high expectations. With a floor that continually bounced, and a cover of Shania Twain’s ‘You’re Still The One’ with Kacey Musgraves, the final New York City show of the tour was filled with euphoric highs.

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Words: Sahar Ghadirian

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