In 2017, Harry Styles had everyone in the world wondering, ‘is it just me or does he sound exactly like David Bowie?' Just so you know, it wasn’t just you. Harry’s long-awaited first single did pay homage to the late singer with whoops, hollers, and soul-searching lyrics. Music enthusiastic took to the Internet to break down Harry’s debut album note-by-note and minute-by-minute to figure out just whom the former ‘One Direction’ pop singer was drawing inspiration from. While some verses and guitar solos on the album might remind you of Queen or Prince in their prime, David Bowie was clearly felt all throughout the album.
Yet, Harry isn’t content to reference the music idol with only his music. He’s worked hard to shed the perfectly manicured image from his boy-band days by looking to Bowie as his own pop idol. Sometimes it looks like he’s stealing straight from Bowie’s closet. Sure, we haven’t seen a red star emblazoned across Harry’s pretty-boy face yet, but the teen idol has found other ways to add a little Bowie to his life. His style has slowly gone from pretty boy to established musician with suits and shirts that Bowie would have worn himself. He’s clearly becoming comfortable with pushing the boundaries and is trying to be innovative as an artist with both his music and look. You could say that’s actually what Bowie aimed (and did) do. After all, they say that you should copy the person who you admire the most and we’re sure we can guess exactly who it is that Mr. Styles is looking up to these days.
When Harry Styles dropped his solo album and the first single ‘Sign of the Times’ it was a sign that his days as a boy band pop star were over. The bold chords and classic ballad sound reminded audiences more of David Bowie’s ‘Hunky Dory’ album than it did any singles from Styles former band One Direction. He also paired it with a music video of him in stark dark clothes that recalled to mind either Harry Potter, Irish fishermen, or England in 1942.
Clearly, this was not music fit for the former boyfriend of Taylor Swift. And, that’s exactly the way that Mr Styles wants it. He’s not afraid to push boundaries with long songs or make a mashup rock ballad that reminds us of a musical great.
Harry Styles is clearly not a ‘bro’ type of guy. Just like David Bowie wasn’t afraid of his effeminate side, Harry is not afraid to slip on his girlfriend’s shirt. We’re just kidding. We don’t actually know whether or not he does wear his girlfriend’s shirts. What we do know is that he’s not afraid to shop from in the female department.
There have been a few times he’s been spotted in a shirt or jacket that popped up on more than one leading lady. He’s willing to push boundaries just like Bowie and that comes with love hearts and all pink if he wants to. Pushing the boundaries in fashion landed Bowie in the fashion hall of fame. And, we’re sure that Style’s taste for androgyny will do the same for him one day.
Neither of these British pop stars have favoured traditional male haircuts. Even in Bowie’s later years when he favoured a more conservative and polished look, he still stuck with that rebellious sweep of hair over his eyebrow. He was destined to stand out.
Styles has taken a play from Bowie’s hair book and chooses unconventional hairstyles that are always on the longer side. In fact, his styles have sparked a wave of imitators. First, it was his shaggy mop of waves that girls and boys were rushing to the salon to copy. Then, it was his long beach waves that everyone was trying to emulate. His latest crop might be his most conservative yet. Although, just like his predecessor, Styles keeps that bang long to sweep over his eyes, you know, just in case it looks cool for a photo-shoot.
While his former bandmate Zayn tends to stick with conventional pop tunes and classic leather jacket and black tee looks, Harry chooses to go to a different place. The young singer prefers to make trends instead of following them. He’s not afraid to step outside of the boundaries.
Wearing a black-and-red suit that reminds us of a court jester is not something that Harry is afraid of. He’s not even intimidated to write extended songs that drift off into hollering guitar riffs. Harry is a man who enjoys the experiment of being a pop star. So, far it works well for him. He looks good in ruffles. His music is proving that he’s a powerful force in the music industry, and he’s aligning himself to be alongside the hall of fame just like his idol.
Bowie loved to take pop music into strange and new directions. He didn’t follow the status quo and that’s why we loved him. Styles has aimed to break the rules of traditional pop music that he followed during his time with One Direction. His solo album asked serious questions, went heavy on the guitar solos, had challenging choruses, and even included songs that lasted 6 whole minutes. He wasn’t trying to make the traditional stuff that you always hear on the radio.
Clearly, Harry is interested in making art. Sometimes in order to make art you have to bend the rules. Harry showed that he was willing to go in a different direction just to be able to make something that would stand out amongst the sea of pop albums.
There’s the classic story in the world of celebrities of a pop kid or Disney starlet trying to shed his or her wholesome image. Some of them end with disastrous results. Others find their roots as an ‘adult’ musician or actor slowly. Harry is the later.
He didn’t rack up DUIs or flip off the paparazzi to prove that he was a grown man. Instead, Harry has chosen to shed his teen idol roots through his style and music. And, it took some time. He slowly began to adopt a style that was more rock n’roll than ‘boy band’. And, his music followed suit. Clearly, this is not a musician who wants to be pigeonholed as a teen idol. It’s a short lifespan, and Harry knew he would have to branch out and grow up.
David Bowie and Harry Styles are both British and both men love suits. There must be something in the water over there that releases great musical potential in so many males who also look good in tailored clothes? Or, maybe it’s just that quirky British sense of humor that we love?
Harry and Bowie both seem like interesting men whom we would enjoy grabbing a drink with because there’s always a cheekiness to them, as if they don’t take life very seriously. From their fashion taste to their interviews you get the feeling that they know that they’re not doctors saving lives, but musicians having fun. It’s that same realization and sense of humor that pops up in their songs. So, maybe being able to not take themselves too seriously is a British thing?
It’s not only on Harrys’ new album that he openly discusses the issues the world. At a performance promoting his new album, the musician wore one of his traditional suits, in a metallic baroque pattern, and had a large rainbow flag tied onto his microphone. It was a bold statement as the world has become more aware and accepting of gender equality over the last few years.
It would have been easy for Harry to stay silent and never offer a word on his political or cultural opinions. However, he’s proving that just like his predecessor he thinks it’s important to talk about these issues and he finds a way to show his support. In one interview about the upcoming elections in his home country, Harry voiced his opinion by stating that he’d vote for ‘whoever was against Brexit’.
Harry and David really are the same. They both have great hair and are pop culture idols. While Bowie carved out a name for himself and the future of pop music with a career that spanned several decades, Harry is still young and quite new in the music industry.
Although, with the help of One Direction, Harry has come into the music industry with a bang. He instantly became a pop idol who now boasts having four albums under his belt. To add to his success each of those have peaked on the Billboard charts. Now, he’s carving out space in the music industry just for himself. If his first solo album that was released in 2017 is any indication of Harry’s future plans, then it’s safe to say that he intends to be around for a while.
Harry showed off his more serious side with snapshots of him practicing the piano. In typical Harry Styles fashion, it was a photo to make the women swoon. Yet, that’s expected considering he’s blessed with such good looks, making him photogenic from every angle.
With his long waves tucked behind his ear and a sober black button-down, he also showed off a side that fans don’t always have a chance to see- him practicing his craft. Harry posted the intimate portrait as he learned to play the instrument for his new album. It’s a testament to his determination to become a better performer by expanding his craft. It’s similar to David Bowie who learned to play the guitar, piano, keyboards, harmonica, mandolin, violin, and a bunch of other instruments that make the rest of us look like underachievers.
Harry made sure that his team knew he was ready to jump into full-on rock territory. Sure, his album did have a few pop undertones here and there, but all in all, it was a rock ballad that paid homage to Bowie’s ‘Life On Mars’.
The lyrics were deeper than anything Harry sang as ‘the pretty boy’ in One Direction. The first few minutes of his solo album even pay homage to Bowie with Harry playing the piano. As mentioned before, he learned the instrument in preparation for his album. Then, Harry used his pretty boy falsetto to whoop, wail, and question the meaning of life just as Bowie wondered in ‘Life On Mars’. Harry even cut his hair for his music video in a modern wavy version of the mullet that Bowie sported in the music video.
Looking at Harry Styles tattoos, love of bold lapel suits, and music, you can clearly tell that he’s influenced by several rock legends. Yet, psychedelic soul is also another inspiration for the 24-year old. It’s just not front and center.
It’s a musical style that was pushed to the forefront of pop music by Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Wonder. And, Harry, who is poised to be a legend one day, is no exception. His song ‘Meet Me In The Hallway’ is clearly a track that was exposed to Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. It’s crafted to feel like it would have fit in right with the album’s release in 1973. Other tracks such as ‘Sweet Creature’ and ‘Carolina’ also take inspiration from psychedelic soul. Clearly, Harry is trying to take pop music back to a different time. This suit even allows him to reach into that interesting place of music, with the deep purple patterns and white sleeves peeking out. This is definitely something that Bowie would wear.
Harry Styles is a sensitive soul. He isn’t content to stick with pop music and lyrics meant to get you moving on the dance floor. Harry has a blend of dark moodiness that blends with his desire to help us see past the happy bubbles of our lives. He wants to reach into our souls (or his fans hearts).
His single ‘Sign of the Times’ was just the tip of the iceberg for the British singer who paired his lyrics with images of him standing on a cliff in the music video. He continued that raw emotion with ‘Two Ghosts’ that included lyrics such as, “trying to remember how it feels to have a heartbeat.” Then, just to make the girls swoon he sealed the album with a few love songs that reminded us that even handsome pop stars have their heart broken too.
Under the helm of a boy band, we didn’t always have a chance to hear Harry’s voice. Often he was overshadowed and it was his hairstyles that we remembered. Maybe, that’s why he wears all those floral suits to ensure that he’s seen and heard. Being on his own has been good to Harry. We finally have a chance to focus on his voice and his rock ballads.
His angelic falsetto paired with his suits give him a dreamy ensemble. Such as his lyrics ‘Why are we always stuck and running,’. His voice allows him to jump into layers of distortion that give his lyrics a home run. He hits the high notes with such clarity that it leaves many of us wondering where has he been all this time? Clearly, he’s been getting voice lessons to perfect his craft.
Harry loves suits when he’s performing. It’s no different than David Bowie who often sported a handsome three-piece suit when on stage. However, these aren’t your basic Wall Street looks. These are rock stars and these men dress like it.
Harry wears suits that are emblazoned with flowers, gilded gold, and sometimes he’ll even throw in a ruffle or two. Once, he wore a pink suit once that brought to mind David Bowie and Mick Jagger all at once. Although, it should be noted that Harry doesn’t bust moves on stage quite like Jagger does. He get’s a little into it, but he prefers to hold the mic close and swoon or play his guitar. In that way, he’s more like Bowie. A sensitive heart with an angelic falsetto that belts out powerful rock lyrics.