From floppy-haired One Direc­tioner to suave solo artist with moves like Jag­ger, Harry’s at the very top of his game

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE CRITICS’ CHOICE - LOUISE BRU­TON

When I tweeted, “What’s your favourite thing about Harry Styles? Se­ri­ous ques­tion. No time-wasters please,” these are the se­lect an­swers I got from many, many men and women, mostly in their early to late 30s: “He isn’t afraid of a bold print.” “Wears Chelsea boots well.” “Sar­to­rial style plus non­cha­lant vibes.” “He seems to have gen­uinely good taste in other peo­ple’s mu­sic.” “The evo­lu­tion of his In­sta­gram pro­file.” “Ex­cel­lent hair.” “If he were fa­mous in the early noughties he would have been hailed as unashamedly met­ro­sex­ual.” “The way he wears his shirts with one more but­ton open than is nec­es­sary.” “He just seems like a lovely young fella.”

It shouldn’t be a sur­prise that Harry Styles’s most re­deem­ing qual­i­ties/pos­ses­sions – his hair, his charm and his boots – all come down to style. From the floppy-haired cutie in One Di­rec­tion to the tai­lored suit-wear­ing, Mick Jag­ger-lookin’ per­former he is today, Styles has honed his style into some­thing very suave, and his met­ro­sex­u­al­ity would put David Beck­ham’s sarong from 1998 to shame. There’s some­thing in­cred­i­bly endearing about Harry Ed­ward Styles and that makes him the ideal VBF and ev­ery­one on Twit­ter’s num­ber-one crush, ap­par­ently. If Smash Hits mag­a­zine still ex­isted today, Styles would win the Most Fan­cia­ble Male at the Smash Hits Poll Win­ners Party ev­ery year with­out fail.

The very ecosys­tem of a boy­band is a frag­ile yet fas­ci­nat­ing thing. They are usu­ally made up of five young men, of which only a cou­ple can ac­tu­ally sing and. The oth­ers are used as back­ing dancers or to fit the mould of men that are fan­cia­ble to young girls, gay men and the adults who are still scarred by Take That split­ting up in 1996 (a day so dif­fi­cult that the Sa­mar­i­tans set up a spe­cial helpline). Those moulds are The Cute One, The Heart­breaker, The Bad Boy – com­plete with shaved and/or pierced eye­brow, The Moody One and The Quiet One. Through­out Styles’s One Di­rec­tion ca­reer, he flirted with all of these roles, only los­ing out to Zayn Ma­lik, who took on the role of The Moody One so beau­ti­fully.

When a boy­band goes on hia­tus, the dark­ened truth that they will never per­form to­gether again lurks, but you dis­tract your­self from the truth by guess­ing which one will be the Rob­bie Wil­liams or the Justin Tim­ber­lake. One Di­rec­tion pulled the hia­tus line in Jan­uary 2016, and they’ve since blown the pat­tern that only one boy­band mem­ber can ob­tain solo suc­cess be­cause three of them – Styles, Ma­lik and Niall Ho­ran – are do­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well with this solo lark, and The Other Two are do­ing okay. Un­like Abz from 5ive or Paul from S Club 7, let’s just say that they won’t be sell­ing their Brit Awards on eBay any­time soon.

Styles’s de­but solo sin­gle, Sign of the Times, and his self-ti­tled de­but al­bum un­veiled a more se­ri­ous pop star, but in­stead of turn­ing his back on his fan­base of teenage girls, he de­fends them in the most In­sta­grammable quote of all time, mak­ing him even more fan­cia­ble: “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop mu­sic – short for pop­u­lar, right? – have worse mu­si­cal taste than a 30-year-old hip­ster guy?” he told Rolling Stone mag­a­zine. “Mu­sic is some­thing that’s al­ways chang­ing. There’s no goal­posts. Young girls like The Bea­tles. You gonna tell me they’re not se­ri­ous? How can you say young girls don’t get it?” Swoon.

Styles’s charm has caught the eyes of an even wider au­di­ence, so when he comes to Dublin’s 3Arena on Mon­day night, if you were born be­fore 1990, make sure you step back and give the younger fans the best view be­cause they were there first.

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