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Harry Styles vs Headlines

When the Art Contradicts the Headlines: Harry Styles’ Authentic Self

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Article by: Andrea Art by: @myrowx

If I could fly

I’d be coming right back home to you

I think I might

Give up everything, just ask me to

This is the opening to one of the last One Direction songs written by Harry Styles. With such a declaration, one can not help but wonder who could Harry possibly love this much after a very public breakup with his girlfriend at the time, Kendall Jenner. A relationship many speculate could have been a pr stunt.

Regardless of where I personally stand on the One Direction fandom, looking at things objectively, there are many reasons why it doesn’t add up for Harry to have a person in his life he considers a home to come back to at the time. Even if the song was a year old, it doesn’t take much to realize the lyrics are not about a break-up. And considering the more than likely possibility that he wrote it while being publicly single does not make things much better, does it?

Even if he had a fling with someone the general public never got to know, who could possibly get into your life in a way so brutal for you to consider them your forever home in such a short amount of time? The lyrics allude to a long-term relationship, to a partner he knows well — so, so well he stands before them, quoting the song, completely defenseless. Not only this, but Harry also claims I’m missing half of me when we’re apart, which would confirm this is not a fling.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware the juicy details do not concern us. Who are we to demand an explanation, regardless of the true meaning of the song? Harry’s private life, like everyone else’s, is private and belongs to him. However, when you are a public figure who has been fighting womanizer allegations since the sweet age of sixteen, one can not help but raise an eyebrow at a song like this one, and even more so if it comes from a singer who has admitted to write mostly (if not always) from personal experience.

Therefore, the point of this article is not to speculate, but to analyze Harry’s art, completely and irrevocably incompatible with the headlines we see in the newspapers, and reach a conclusion as to why this might be.

Home, precisely, is a concept consistently present in One Direction, the singer’s solo career, and Louis Tomlinson’s solo career as well. In Sweet Creature, for example, it’s an acknowledged fact Harry sings about, as genius.com put it, “two people facing difficulties in their relationship. They take comfort in knowing they belong together despite all the arguments.” Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t take us long to spot the singer’s home:

And, oh, we started

Two hearts in one home

It’s hard when we argue

We’re both stubborn, I know

Now, can we know for sure that he’s talking about the same home? I’d say it looks like it, but no, of course, we can’t. Imagine, however, you’re a songwriter yourself and write songs about your love life. Would you really use the same metaphors over and over, for every single relationship you have in your entire career? I hope the answer is a flat no, because if not, let me tell you, you’re not a great partner (or, at least, not a very creative one).

Once again, Harry wraps the song with:

Sweet creature, sweet creature

Wherever I go, you bring me home

Sweet creature, sweet creature

When I run out of road, you bring me home

You’ll bring me home

In the first song he wrote for his solo debut album: the world-successful and self-named Harry Styles, he states his heart belongs to the sweet creature in question. In an interview with The Zach Sang Show, he would confirm the song was dedicated to a specific person, which made fans suspicious due to the themes of forever love and the parallels with If I Could Fly (remember the Harry Styles everyone knows was allegedly single when he wrote the sixth song in Made In The A.M. and, from the early summer of 2017 on, dating model Camille Rowe).

Harry spent a big part of the rest of his first album writing about a particularly challenging time or possibly a break up of the same long-term relationship nobody in the general public even knew existed (with songs such as From the Dining Table, Two Ghosts – written in 2013- or Meet me in the Hallway). He spent a good part of his second album, Fine Line, writing about the ups and downs of a relationship with, potentially, the same person, and even acknowledged his muse in Falling, with a simple yet meaningful verse I’ll probably end up getting tattooed someday: And I’m well aware I write too many songs about you.

This is not the last time Harry breaks the mold, in his pretty well-known To Be So Lonely, he professes a love he’s had for a long time and that he had lost (at least at the time), stating:

Don’t blame me for falling

I was just a little boy

Don’t blame the drunk caller

Wasn’t ready for it all

Now, you wouldn’t call a man at the young age of twenty-three, when he met Camille Rowe, “a little boy”, would you? A little boy who “wasn’t ready for it all,” according to his lyrics. He could be talking about Taylor Swift I suppose — a three month fling so suspicious their relationship has been taught in marketing universities as a pr stunt for over a decade. However, this is a connection Harry has repeatedly denied when asked by interviewers throughout his career. Besides, who in their right mind would continue to write about old relationships which took place more than a decade ago? 

Harry’s pain in To Be So Lonely sounds recent, it sounds familiar. When we, the listeners, find the word home again, we don’t bat an eye, it’s almost like we expect it, we expect Harry to tell us all about his mysterious muse and the spiritual place they’ve created together. 

Don’t call me “baby” again, you got your reasons

I know that you’re tryna be friends, I know you mean it

Don’t call me “baby” again, it’s hard for me to go home

Be so lonely

Harry wants to go home, despite the hurt, despite the pain, he misses this person, the home they created together. And his love interest… They are trying to be friends again, aren’t they? Well, it looks like everything is alright at the end because, while according to the newspapers Harry Styles and Camille Rowe part ways a year into their relationship, before the album is released, in Fine Line Harry does not focus solely on the hard times, but also on the love, on the complete admiration he feels for this person he practically prays to in Adore You, Canyon Moon, Sunflower Vol.6 and so on. On this shadow who, in Golden, he claims to be infatuated with.

Curiously, in the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball of 2020 – emitted just about a month before Harry Styles was seen with the female director of the film he was working in, Olivia Wilde, for the first time ever through paparazzi pictures taken in a private property at a private wedding -, Harry not so subtly let everyone know he was hoping someday he could be open and his partner was scared because he was so open, quoting the first of many heartbreaking lyric changes.

If you thought there was no way he could top everything he so bravely said in such a brief interlude, wait until you hear Golden’s alternative lyric change he started making very occasionally when Love on Tour was resumed after lockdown  in late 2020:

And he’s Golden,

And he’s Golden,

And I’m hoping someday he could be open

I know you’re scared because I’m so open

Because Harry has no problem communicating everything Harry Styles keeps quiet, because Harry’s secret muse is a man, and has been a man all along.

Harry’s House:

Moving on to Harry’s House – written around mid 2020 before he began working with Olivia Wilde, is full of love declarations about a long-term relationship. I’d say this has been the most contradictory album of them all.  Going randomly through the set list, we find Boyfriends, a song composed in the Fine Line era and whose title is pretty self-explanatory.

Daydreaming, Grapejuice, Satellite… All of them love songs. The mainstream media claims they are about a relationship that was yet to happen at the time they were written. Daydreaming is the only one in the album where the singer uses she/her pronouns repeatedly in verses such as: she said ‘love me like you pay me’, which many argue could refer to a marketing stunt. Grapejuice, about missing a person so much you turn to alcohol and then, when they are back into your life, you realize you are paying a higher price than you thought you would for what kept you going during those lonely times. Lastly, Satellite, about waiting for a person to get back into your life or to solve their problems and giving them the space they need, as it can be interpreted from the chorus:

Spinnin’ out, waitin’ for ya to pull me in

I can see you’re lonely down there

Don’t you know that I am right here?

Spinnin’ out, waitin’ for ya to pull me in

I can see you’re lonely down there

Don’t you know that I am right here?

One would think the constant getting-back-together theme is a little weird, given that Harry Styles is not currently dating any of his magazine exes. 

Now, in the saga of explicit songs in the artist’s discography, we have Cinema, a song quickly attributed to a previous coworker, the female cis director, despite the blatant metaphors about sex, about having sex with a person who “pops when they’re intimate”, a person with male genitalia and who (after Golden’s lyric changes) we might as well assume identifies as a male, a male constantly present in Harry’s verses. Although this shouldn’t be a surprise for hard-core fans, who have heard the artist sing about having sexual intercourse with men before in tunes like the unreleased Medicine.

We finish analyzing Harry’s brand new album with Matilda, on its way to become a queer anthem just like Lights Up (released on national coming out day) was in his last album; Little Freak, allegedly about the female part of his identity he based She on; Music For a Sushi Restaurant, a metaphor for the brutal ways artists are treated in the music industry with a particularly loud music video; As It Was, whose rumored and unconfirmed last minute lyric change from Leave for America, two kids fall In love, I don’t wanna talk about who’s doing it first to Leave America, two kids follow her would suggest a turn to approach the official narrative; and Late Night Talking and Daylight. Curiously, both of these allude to the difficulties of a relationship sometimes long-distance and in different time zones even if, with Styles immersed in his tour and cinematographic projects after lockdown, the newspapers reported he was spending a great deal of time with Olivia Wilde in LA, and thus, the pair of co-workers never went through long periods separated by different time zones around the time Harry recorded Harry’s House (because remember the early writing stages were done by the time he met the 38 years old director).

And no, I did not forget two of the most contradictory songs of Harry’s entire career. First of all, we have one of my personal favorites, Love Of My Life,  a song we were told was about patriotism and his love for England: we don’t like what’s on the news, but it’s on all the time referring to the pandemic and its many victims, I don’t know you as well as all my friends as a result of all the time Harry has spent away from his natal country, etc. 

As expected, at first, some fans believed it (although how someone can take England with them every time they go away, to a hotel room using someone else’s name is beyond me) and even I was a little hesitant until, while touring in Europe this summer, the singer dedicated the song to a queer couple in the crowd who had just gotten engaged, right then and there. And who would dedicate a song about a country to a happy couple? 

Love Of My Life is a song about a person destined for the artist even before he met them. Baby, you were the love of my life: you were the person made for me even before I got to know you, all of those years ago. Maybe you don’t know what’s lost till you find it, which alludes to the rekindling of a relationship and his desire to get to know the person again: It’s not what I wanted, to leave you behind/Don’t know where you’ll land when you fly/But, baby, you were the love of my life.

Therefore, based on the theory about Love Of My Life being a romantic song (which is not that far-fetched if you stop to read the title, is it?), it would be fairly accurate to assume the news he is referring to are the news everyone sees and reads concerning Harry Styles, the public persona, an image Harry and his potential partner both loathe.

Lastly, Harry’s House ends with Keep Driving, a song whose title already tells us far more than what we’ve been told. “Keep driving” suggests the emitter and receptor of this message have already driven a long way, that it is not their first time on the road, enjoying the company of one another, or their last.

And although at first glance it may seem like a silly little song, it is full of metaphors about a long-term relationship moving forwards. Particularly in this part::

Maple syrup, coffee

Pancakes for two

Hash brown, egg yolk

I will always love you

A small concern with how the engine sounds

We held darkness in withheld clouds

I would ask, “Should we just keep driving?”

Should we just keep driving?

The Harry celebrity press never captures, describes his usual breakfast with his partner, the man he wakes up to, and professes his eternal love. The Harry uninformed ears so unfairly judge expresses his intentions of nourishing and taking care of this relationship and, ultimately,  asks his particular listener: Should we just keep driving? Should we move forwards?

Despite the funny bridge, full of private jokes between the happy couple which still confuses most fans, the meaning of the song is not debatable: by the time the tune was written, by the time Harry Styles’ latest pr stunt started, the person behind the star had already traveled a great deal, and he had not done so alone. 

And while the tabloids reported Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde were no longer together this 18th of November, exactly one year from the day the singer stormed into Sony’s offices looking quite distressed after the release of the project they both share was put off for (coincidentally) also a year; last Monday 21st of November Harry reappeared for his Love On Tour concert in Guadalajara (Mexico) in a better mood than during his LA residencies (which his coworker often attended to) and, once more, in Golden, told his truth: his lover, quoting his most recent lyric change, was still golden, and their journey had not been cut short, nor did they plan it to be. They would just keep driving.

Now it’s your turn to wonder why the media lies and what interests are behind it; now it’s your time to go back to Harry’s whole discography with a critical mind and make sure you get to know H, and not Harry Styles; to do your research on closeting and the abuse artists go through and listen, really listen. Because the person who has been advocating for freedom and acceptance for years even in parts of the world it’s not safe to do so, the person whose main motto is Treat People With Kindness, who helps fans around the world come out and accept and love their authentic selves and whose shows (at least from his part) couldn’t live up more to what their current name is – Love On Tour -, is not the fabrication you are reading about. The truth is, whether or not you believe his partner is none other than his ex-bandmate and fellow songwriter Louis Tomlinson should not be an impediment for you to listen, accept, and to get to know the art and the beautiful human being behind it.

Andrea Ariza

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