Wednesday, July 6, 2022

COLUMN: 'Harry's House' was made for partying

May 23, 2022
<p>Harry Styles Illustration by Madison Echlin.</p>

Harry Styles Illustration by Madison Echlin.

Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

On the last day of 2014, a few of my friends — one of whom is now my roommate — introduced me to One Direction. We sat in my now roommate’s basement watching the band’s documentary “This is Us,” and my eighth-grade self watched as all five members sang their way through the Take Me Home Tour.

One of those members was 19-year-old Harry Styles. 

Fast forward eight years and I’m sitting in my college apartment listening to Styles’ highly anticipated, third studio album “Harry’s House,” with some of the same friends who brought Styles into my life in middle school. 

The four of us listened to all thirteen tracks in order as they premiered on YouTube, the Spotify on our T.V. was glitching so we had to improvise. 

In between each song was about a two minute countdown, which left us with just enough time to share our initial thoughts with each other before diving into the next track. Styles introduced each song in a short audio clip, at the end of the countdown, before the music started playing.   

The first track on the album “Music For a Sushi Restaurant,” sets the tone for the album’s musical style. From the get-go listeners can tell what Styles has in store for them. My friends and I joked it took inspiration from the Disney Channel series “A.N.T. Farm” theme song, due to similarities in the vocals. 

All I kept thinking while I was listening to the album for the first time was “this is going to sound so, so good live.” Harry's House is for singing, dancing and making memories—It's the ideal party album. I kept picturing myself in the crowd at one of his future shows dancing and shout-singing the lyrics to “Late Night Talking,” “Daydreaming” and “Keep Driving.”

My favorite thing about “Keep Driving” is its lyrics. Styles wrote the verses by listing nouns and actions that make up everyday life. “Maple syrup, coffee/ Pancakes for two/ Hash brown, egg yolk/ I will always love you,” turning the act of eating breakfast with your significant other into poetry, describing how much he cares for them. And the lyrics fit perfectly with the cheerful melody.

There are, however, a few more intimate, vulnerable songs on the album that don't quite fit the party description, including “Boyfriends” (which Styles debuted at Coachella last month), “Little Freak,” “Love of My Life” (allegedly a tribute to Styles’ home country, England) and “Matilda.”

I am designating “Matilda” as the song in which you stop dancing and start crying — seriously, have tissues nearby when you listen to this one.

The guitar plucking pattern at the beginning of the song instantly reminded me of Fine Line’s fifth track “Cherry,” one of my all-time favorite Styles songs, which might be why I adore it so much. 

The lyrics, “You can start a family who will always show you love/ You don't have to be sorry for doing it on your own,” hit home for anyone who has a complicated relationship with their family. Styles validates the protagonist’s hard feelings towards the family who mistreated them and tells them it’s OK to “let it go” and that they “don’t have to be sorry.” 

When the tracklist for Harry's House was released I remember seeing "Love of My Life" and thinking it could possibly be a reference to Queen and Styles' love for music from the 70s. If you're unfamiliar with 1970s rock, Queen has a song with the same name, and it's one of my favorites in their discography. Much like Freddie Mercury's song, Styles' "Love of My Life" left an impression on me.

It's the last song on the album and leaves a lasting impression on listeners as well with its triumphant piano outro.

Styles kept his tradition of naming songs after types of fruit with track three, “Grapejuice.” His other songs with fruit in the title include “Kiwi,” “Watermelon Sugar” and “Cherry."

In “Grapejuice,” Styles’ vocals are floaty, produced with a groovy, electronic effect. The instrumentals, particularly the drumbeat, guitar strumming and keyboard create a unique sound perfect for dancing. 

Styles is a musician everyone should see live at least once in their lives. Not only is he notorious for making his concerts a safe space for his fans to be whoever they want to be, but he was born to perform and never fails to put on a jaw-dropping show. 

Sadly, I never saw One Direction in concert while they were still together, so the first time I saw Styles live was when he came to Detroit in 2018. My seats were in the nosebleeds – the very last row of Little Caesars Arena – but it didn’t stop me from having the time of my life. 

Then Styles released his second studio album “Fine Line,” the album that changed both his and my lives. “Fine Line” features some of my favorite songs to date, and at the end of 2019, I bought tickets to Styles’ “Love on Tour” in Detroit. Around the same time, I bought tickets to see him at Madison Square Garden on Halloween for a show he named “Harryween.” Not long after I hit the confirm purchase button on Ticketmaster, were those shows ripped from my hands when the world – and concerts – stopped due to the pandemic. 

Following over a year of postponement, the day of the concert finally came and I was back in Little Caesars Arena. This time I was in the pit with Styles ten feet away from me. That night still feels like a fever dream. 

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Harry and his music have grown up right alongside me and my friends. It has truly been a privilege to watch his style as an artist evolve, from “Sign of the Times” to “As it Was” and everything in between. 

“Harry’s House” is everything I hoped it would be and more. I think I am finally ready to bid the “Fine Line” days farewell. A new Harry Styles era is upon us, and I am already counting down the days until I get to hear "Harry’s House" live. 

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