HARRY STYLES by Harry Styles

The day is Friday 12th May 2017. The time is 11:55am. I am sitting upright in bed, scrolling through Twitter on my phone with sweaty palms whilst anxiously biting my lip and constantly checking the time out of hope that another minute will have passed by. I am counting down to midnight. It isn't Christmas Eve, nor is it New Year's Eve, in fact, it's a normal Friday to most but, to me, and to millions of others across the globe, midnight on Friday 12th May is about to be the sheer pinnacle of my existence thus far.

At 11:56am I put my earphones in. At 11:57am I open up iTunes out of hope that something might have happened. At 11:58am I Tweet "OMG THIS IS IT." At 11:59am I shake uncontrollably. As the clock hits 12:00am, I close my eyes, I take one last deep breath in, and I prepare to press play.
I've been waiting for this moment for what feels like a lifetime. I was waiting for it before I even knew that I was waiting for it. Now, it is finally here and it just doesn't seem real. So much adrenaline and excitement have been flowing through my veins for months as I counted down to this very moment and it's almost as if, now that is has arrived, I don't know what to do with myself. It's almost as if I don't want it to happen, simply because, once it's happened, it's over. Once I press play and listen for the very first time, I won't be able to press play for the very first time ever again. This is a once in a lifetime thing and I want to cherish it with all my heart. But, as sweaty and my palms are and as laboured as my breathing is, I want this to happen, because I know it's going to be amazing and it is going to fill me with an indescribable amount of joy. So many emotions and thoughts are within me, I feel so nervous yet so excited, so dangerously unprepared yet so ready. My finger hovers over the play button. It starts.

Harry Styles, the self-titled debut solo album from Harry Styles, was released into the world on 12th May and it changed my life for the better. It has been seven years since I became a One Direction and, therefore, a Harry fan. The time seems to have flown by because he is no longer a sixteen year old curly haired student who works in a bakery at the weekend and wears purple supras and chinos. He has blossomed into a kind, talented, soulful singer songwriter who looks mighty fine in Gucci and has embarked on what is already a successful solo career following five years as a member of the world's most successful boy band. I've watched him evolve into an artist in his own right and, day by day, I have witnessed the world fall more and more in love with him and his shining personality. I've been by his side through the happy and sad times that he chose to share with me, as his fan, and I've felt so blessed during each one that he has allowed me a small glimpse into his life.
Now, he's allowing me to see further into his life with his album. Harry's album is a real piece of him. Throughout his promo, he's been really open about the fact that, through these songs, he is sharing things he hasn't shared before. It's no secret that Harry is a private person and, therefore, when he does choose to put things out in the open, it's for a reason. He isn't someone who updates his followers constantly on what he's eating for breakfast and he isn't someone who spills the goss on his relationships every chance he gets. He's a closed book, to the public, which I like because it means that, when little pieces of him are revealed, they're all the more special. Harry's album is self titled and rightly so because it really is just Harry. Sure, he wrote it and provided the vocals, but it's also Harry's stories, his thoughts, his emotions, his experiences, his observations, his opinions and his ideas. This album is so raw, so soul-baring and it exposes Harry in a way that he has never been exposed before. It must be terrifying, when you think about it, putting yourself out there in such a vulnerable way like that for millions of people, who already have you placed firmly on a pedestal, to judge you. The world has high expectations of Harry, in everything he does. He always exceeds them, of course, but, I'm sure it doesn't come without fear, therefore, I admire him for that, for having the confidence to share such a deep, personal part of his identity with millions of people who he will never meet. I couldn't do it.

The build up to this album was intense but I was certain there was to be no anticlimax. A few songs and snippets were released here and there in order to ease fans in gently and give the world a taster of what was to come on 12th May. All of them sounded so different yet just as brilliant as each other, meaning my excitement to hear the other tracks on the record was at an all time high. Nothing could've prepared me for my first time listening to Harry Styles. As a fangirl through and through, I over exaggerate and freak out about things way more than I should do anyway, but the hype surrounding this album was crazy and, honestly, I couldn't believe I was going to actually be able to listen to a solo Harry Styles album. After following him for so long and adoring every inch of his existence for years now, him releasing a solo album filled me with so much pride and I was probably more excited than he was for the world to hear what he has to offer and to finally start appreciating his talents. Harry's always been a superstar, it's just a shame that it was never noted by the general public as much as it should've been, simply because he was in a boyband and most of his fans were teenage girls. No one took any notice because, apparently, nothing which teenage girls enjoy is credible but, now, it seems the planet is finally awake and willing to appreciate Harry Styles, the artist. They're here for his lyrics, his stories, his vocals, his heart, they're willing to give up their time for him, which he deserves, because musicians like Harry Styles ought to be showered with praise and support, always.

The first time I listened to Harry's album, I did it in the way I felt was most appropriate, which was from start to finish. I began at track one and ended by listening to track ten as I knew this was to be a wonderful, unique experience for me, therefore, I wanted to truly take advantage of what I was getting to listen to and do it properly. I wanted to fully immerse myself in the album and just let it consume my entire being for forty two minutes and, after the experience was over, I felt as though I'd been on a journey. This album takes you to places albums don't tend to take you to. It encourages you to think about things, ponder your own experiences and just kind of sit and evaluate life. The first time listening to any album is special but I feel like listening to this one was unlike anything else I've ever experienced. I felt so many emotions and barely had time to comprehend the first before I was feeling something totally different during the next song. I cried throughout the whole thing, out of pride and just due to the fact that I was so overwhelmed with what was happening. Sometimes, the tears were happier during the upbeat songs and, sometimes, they were out of heartbreak as I listened to the more sombre songs with lyrics that were utterly soul shattering to say the least.

This album isn't the kind of album everyone is releasing into the charts at the moment. It isn't bubblegum pop or a compilation of songs about going out to clubs and getting high because Harry didn't want to write about that and I'm so glad he did things differently because it's so refreshing. This is my kind of album and is something I would certainly buy, had it not been released by one of my favourite stars. I love the old school sounds and how Harry's influences are so clear. He has brought an old style of music back to a new generation. I cannot fault a single lyric, let alone a single song, as each line has been so carefully crafted and nothing has just been throw in there for the sake of making the track three minutes long. Every line in every track now holds a dear place in my heart as, when listening to them, it stood out to me instantly that Harry had spilled his soul into every syllable. Some songs may seem self explanatory, some may be a little more ambiguous and more difficult to decipher the meaning of but what I really love is that this album is for everyone. Whether you'd consider yourself a Harry fan or not, there's a song on here for you to fall in love with as everything can be interpreted in your own personal way and related to your own experiences. Harry often writes metaphorically, which I love, as it makes his songs so much more enchanting to me and allows me to connect with them even more. Everyone has their own theories on what his songs mean and some are extremely juxtaposing, however, despite what different opinions people have on the stories behind the songs, the songs themselves bring people together. They unite people who are not just hardcore Harry followers but people who just genuinely love music.

This album has brought such positivity and light into my life in such a short space of time and so I can only imagine how much more joy it shall fill me with in the coming months. There was no doubt in my mind that this album was going to become one of my all time favourite records, however, as anything Harry Styles related fills me with purpose and contentment. A lot of people have waited a long time for this album and now it's out in the open, inspiring, uplifting, connecting and fulfilling people in so many ways. This is more than an album, it's a work of art and, more significantly, marks the first chapter Harry's solo career. I can't wait to see what he goes on to achieve from here. I have no idea as to what else he has planned but I sincerely hope that everything he does brings him success, love and joy because a person who brings such beauty into society deserves to feel nothing but utter happiness within their own lives.

Now, allow me to talk about each track from the album individually. Actually, first of all, let's address the appearance of the album. I have the limited edition photo version of the album and therefore have the hard copy of the CD, the 32 page booklet with photos from Harry's recording session in Jamaica inside, along with four large photos of him from the album photoshoot, all of which I shall treasure for eternity. I feel it's important to acknowledge the aesthetics of the album because so much has gone into producing it. Not only does it sound good, but it looks stunning. The album cover is so raw and presents Harry as not only starting afresh, but also as vulnerable and offering his heart out to the world. The colours are beautiful and just the general design of the CD really shows off how much of an artist Harry is, as he isn't one to do anything half-heartedly. The look of  the album makes it feel so expensive (WHICH IT WAS BECAUSE HARRY LIKES HIS FANS TO BE POOR FOR SOME REASON) but so sentimental and as something I shall be digging out of a box to play for my grandchildren in the future. As for the songs, I'm not a music critic, I don't write reviews for a living, and I'm not going to review them, I simply want to talk about how they make me feel and why I think they're so glorious. This isn't from the perspective of a music mogul, my thoughts on each song are just that, mine, from the point of view of a fan who is so deeply in love with what one of their idols has created and wishes for everyone to appreciate the masterpiece he has given birth to.

1) Meet Me in the Hallway
Favourite lyric: 'Cause once you go without it, nothing else will do
If the song was a colour it would be: beige 
How the song makes me feel: relaxed
I couldn't imagine any song other than Meet Me in the Hallway as the first track on the album - it's the perfect opener. Its sound is so mellow, relaxing and the kind you'd fall asleep to, not because it's boring but because the song just makes you feel so content and peaceful. When I listen to this song, it's as if I feel heavy. When I listen to it whilst lying on my bed, I feel as though I could sink right into it and stay there forever. It's a gorgeous first track with the most simple yet stunning guitar instrumental. The lyrics can be interpreted to be rather sad but hopeful, with lines like "maybe we'll work it out." Either way, it leaves me an emotional wreck every time. Harry's vocals give me goosebumps, the only word I can think to describe them with is 'UGH,' as in 'UGH, so good.' This song also mentions "not talking about it," which seems to be a running theme throughout the album, as many songs make reference to not opening up but instead keeping the important things to ourselves. When I finished listening to this song for the first time, I was adamant the album couldn't possibly get any better but, naturally, I was wrong, as I always am when it comes to Harry Styles.

2) Sign of the Times
Favourite lyric: You can't bribe the door on your way to the sky
If the song was a colour it would be: burnt orange
How the song makes me feel: inspired
Ahh, Sign of the Times. Remember this guy? Harry's debut solo single? It seems only a mere five minutes ago that I was listening to this for the first time at 8am on Radio 1 on April 7th. Despite having already listened to this track countless times, I fall in love with it all over again every time I hear it, especially after hearing Harry perform it live and being treated to how raw and beautiful his vocals sound when he hits every note impeccably. I adore this song and couldn't have picked a better first single myself. The lyrics are so poignant and relevant as they indirectly address the current state of our world. 

3) Carolina
Favourite lyric: better swim before you drown
If the song was a colour it would be: fuchsia 
How the song makes me feel: energised
This is the first upbeat song on the album and WOW IS IT A GOOD ONE. Carolina, a song which is said to be about one person in particular, has you hooked right from the first beat as it starts off a slow jam but then picks up at the chorus and is certain to get anyone moving, regardless of their current mood. The chorus is insanely catchy and positive, I especially love the 'LA LA LA's in the background of Harry singing "she's such a good girl" as they make the song so fun. I think everyone probably knows their own Carolina. 

4) Two Ghosts
Favourite lyric: Trying to remember how it feels to have a heartbeat
If the song was a colour it would be: white
How the song makes me feel: empty
I was eager to hear this one and it surpassed any expectations I had. I knew it was going to be beautiful but I don't think I was prepared for just how heavenly it was going to sound. Two Ghosts absolutely shatters my soul when I listen to it due to its heartbreaking lyrics and melancholy melody, however, that hasn't prevented me from adoring it and listening to it repeatedly. This song is a beautiful way of telling a story of how things can change within relationships and how, sometimes, they just never go back to how they were before. The lyrics are surely relatable to most people and, honestly, this song transports you to a whole other place. It completely takes over me. It also would make the perfect slow dance song.

5) Sweet Creature
Favourite lyric: Two hearts in one home
If the song was a colour it would be: lime green
How the song makes me feel: warm
This song doesn't try too hard. It's simple. But it works. Sweet Creature is magical and the thing that I shall now be referring to as the eighth wonder of the world. It's a majestic song with a beautiful guitar instrumental and lyrics that make you melt. Most people probably have a sweet creature in their lives and this is song is a beautiful one to dedicate to someone you think dearly of. I feel as though I'm floating on a cloud when I listen to this one.

6) Only Angel
Favourite lyric: Broke a finger knocking on your bedroom door, I got splinters in my knuckles crawling across the floor
If the song was a colour it would be: deep red
How the song makes me feel: badass
OKAY. WHERE DO I BEGIN? You may recognise the opening of this song as the music that was played in Harry's cryptic TV advert to promote Sign of the Times a couple of months back. The opening of the song sounds almost gospel like, which fits the title Only Angel perfectly. It truly does sound beautiful as the piano playing is just something else. However, as the piano builds and builds, you expect a crescendo, you're waiting for something to happen. All of a sudden, a giant scream from Harry completely flips this song on its head and turns it into the rock song of the century. His vocals are raspy, thick and strong the chorus is one you won't be able to get out of your head. This song is going to fill venues when Harry performs it live and rocks out like no one is watching to the heavy guitar solo towards the end. This song is such a Harry song to me and it's definitely up there with my favourites.

7) Kiwi
Favourite lyric: When she's alone, she goes home to a cactus in a black dress, she's such a such an actress
If the song was a colour it would be: electric blue
How the song makes me feel: on fire..like literally
Kiwi was one of the songs I was most looking forward to hearing and WOW was it worth the wait. This track is another rock head banger and seems the perfect one to either perform in front of the mirror with a hairbrush or belt out in the car when you're feeling angry. Harry said this song began as a joke and ended up as one of his favourites and I'm glad he persevered with the joke and finished the song as I'd go as far as to say its the best one on the album, which is a big statement to make. Harry also claimed this one happened when he had a lot of energy stored up inside of him that he wanted to unleash and I think that's the perfect description of the song. The chorus of this is one of the greatest I've heard in a long time, I mean, the line "I'm having your baby, it's none of your business" is iconic within itself, and I know this is a track I will not be getting tired of any time soon. (Also, I am very much looking forward to hearing Harry's drummer, Sarah, absolutely smash it out of the park when she plays this live).

8) Ever Since New York
Favourite lyric: there's no water inside this swimming pool
If the song was a colour it would be: baby blue
How the song makes me feel: safe
There's such a stark difference between Ever Since New York and Kiwi, Ever Since New York almost brings you back down to earth and forces you to breathe again after you've completely lost every ounce of dignity you've ever had whilst grooving to Kiwi. This beautiful guitar-driven song sounds like the perfect track to listen to whilst you're on a long drive. It's calming and Harry's vocals are chilling but it's also memorable with the line "tell me something I don't already know" being repeated throughout. This is a timeless classic and a song which is impossible to hate.

9) Woman
Favourite lyric: This thing upon me, howls like a beast
If the song was a colour it would be: maroon 
How the song makes me feel: awesome
You're guaranteed to fall in love with Woman from the outset with "shall we just search Romantic Comedies on Netflix and see what comes up?" being the first thing you hear and instantly intriguing you as to what on earth this song is about. This is the track with the infamous "duck effect," also known as the vocal effect on Harry's voice which his stepdad said sounded like a duck, (seriously, the more you listen to it, the more it sounds like a duck). But this song is so unique, totally different to anything you'd perhaps expect from Harry and certainly unlike anything on the radio currently. It's the slow jam of our generation but, be warned, Harry's vocals may send you into an early grave.

10) From the Dining Table
Favourite lyric: comfortable silence is so overrated
If the song was a colour it would be: black
How the song makes me feel: as though my heart has been taken out of my chest and smashed into thousands of tiny pieces with a sledgehammer
Aaaaand last but never least, we have From the Dining Table, the song I was most excited for, simply because of its obscure title. I knew I was going to adore this one and I was right but I adore it more than I could ever properly explain. When I listen to this song, I can't do anything else. I just have to sit. And listen. The song has to completely consume me. The lyrics touch my heart in a way that only very few lyrics have done before and this is a track which I just feel so blessed to be able to listen to. It's beyond stunning and gives my goosebumps goosebumps. This is the perfect song to end the album with and completes the journey the record will have taken you on. It's a nice way to close the book of Harry Styles but also is a great signal that so much more is to come in the future. It's also the perfect song to listen to whilst you're in a car, with headphones in, staring out of the window as it rains.

So, there we have it. Harry Styles. The album. Honestly, I'm rather speechless now because listening to this album just seems to suck every last bit of life from within me, but in the best possible way. I couldn't be prouder of Harry, but also his team who worked tirelessly with him writing this record, because all of their efforts have paid off. I urge you all to listen to it. Throw any preconceptions you have of Harry out of the window. Forget the 2012 1D songs you hated, forget what you've read about him in the news, just listen to his album and give him a chance. Be open to new music and, if you don't like it, that's cool, but at least you will have given it a chance. Plus, it's far better to listen to the album and hate it because it isn't your style of music that it is for you to not listen to it at all yet claim to hate it just because it was made by a boy band member. Harry Styles is bringing rock back and it's bloody great.
So, what now? Well, we look to the future! We truly bask in the beauty that is Harry Styles whilst being excited about the thought of him performing these songs live on tour later this year. I shall be seeing Harry myself in November and to say I'm excited seems criminal as it'd be the understatement of the century. This new chapter in my favourite human being's life is so special and exciting, I cannot wait to continue supporting him as he goes on to do even greater things. Congratulations, Superstar, on a Grammy worthy album, I wish you every success with it. Although, as I prepare to click 'publish' on this blog post, you are number 1 in 84 countries, so I guess you aren't doing too badly...

My favourite songs from the album are Kiwi, From the Dining Table and Two Ghosts - what are yours? <3

Love, Emily :) xx

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