On April 20th files containing a number of Harry Styles’ demos for previously unreleased One Direction songs began spreading across Twitter, followed by studio recordings of multiple unreleased tracks originally intended for Harry’s self-titled first album. A few hours later, every track from Harry’s House was leaked a full month before the album’s official release date of May 20th. What came next was a division of the fandom as many struggled to decide what, if anything, they were going to listen to.
Twitter users immediately began to divide into leak listeners and non-listeners. Either decision was controversial; many agreed, however, that there was a clear distinction between listening to old, yet unreleased 1D and Harry songs and listening to H’s hugely anticipated third album that was three years and a pandemic in the making. On one hand, the band has been on hiatus for six years; we already know all the words to Medicine and Anna; we read the title Complicated Freak once on a whiteboard five years ago! Of course we should hear all of these immediately. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? On the other hand, a viral marketing campaign consisting of little more than a Twitter account and a simple website had been ramping up the excitement for Harry’s House for weeks. Larries around the world waited every single day to see what was behind a virtual door so we could spend the day decoding the images and clues that were dropped. We can’t let all of Harry’s hard work go to waste, right? A tough call for many, but not so difficult for plenty of others.
Murmurs of speculation that Harry himself had been behind the leaks started to spread. If Harry was behind it, it seemed there would have to be a reason. Maybe it was an act of rebellion against his record label, his management, or a step toward breaking out of his contracts, ending the stunts, and being free. Harry’s potential involvement did ease some of the pressure not to listen to the tracks early and more and more people joined in.
Outside of stan Twitter, the HS3 leaks weren’t common knowledge but were written about on sites like Mashable and even Newsweek. Sony also acknowledged the leak by tweeting, then swiftly deleting “Fans don’t listen to Harry’s House before May 20.” Meanwhile, Louis “pancakes and maple syrup” Tomlinson was seen walking around with a smirk, and Harry himself remained stone silent. The silence somewhat came to an end the night of the album’s official release at Harry’s sold-out One Night Only in New York at UBS Arena. As Harry and his band play, the crowd sings along to every song from Harry’s House, which has been “out” for less than 24 hours. Harry asks “Who knows the words?” and in response, the fans cheer and scream; “But how?” he asks with a grin and a laugh. That’s probably the closest we’ll come to hearing comments directly from Harry.
The truth is that we won’t know any time soon where these leaks originated, like all of the One Direction album leaks that came before them. As of now, Harry’s House has been out for twelve days and according to stats released by Spotify Charts and Billboard, the album will continue breaking records as its first single did several weeks ago.