The moments between the release of Harry Styles’ debut solo single ‘Sign of the Times’ and the release of his self-titled album seemed to move very quickly, at least to the fans. His album was one of the most highly anticipated albums in recent history and since One Direction announced their hiatus, people were waiting to see what he’d do with his solo sound.
Now that we’ve heard the entire album, we don’t think he could have done it in a better way. He truly gave all of himself to the process and the lyrics, the sound, and the life of the album are proof to how much this meant to him. Another thing that fans got this time around, that’s different from anything else we’ve seen before, is a special documentary released with Apple Music. The documentary, Harry Styles Behind the Album premiered just days after the release of his album and it is incredible. It gives an intimate look into what it took to make each song, how they were all picked for a reason, and how he bonded with a new group of musicians for the first time in six years.
When Harry auditioned for The X Factor, his life changed in a way he wasn’t anticipating. The ride was beautiful but each of the boys in One Direction went into the process applying as solo artists and when they were put together as a band, an important bond was formed that led to something that made a big impact on music history. However, the guys all agreed that it was time to take a break to focus on some solo projects, to explore other areas of their talent, and to branch out before coming back together in the future.
A lot of people expected that this would mean a break up spurred on by a hideous falling out, but that’s not the truth – and Harry addresses that in his behind the album documentary. The scenes are all in black and white over a soft song in the background and he talks fondly about the time spent with the band – while Harry has spoken the least about their comeback, it’s to be expected. Everything seems to hang on Harry as far as the media is concerned, if he said yes we’ll be back soon – would anyone take their solo careers seriously?
Focusing on Harry as a solo musician, the documentary is a stunning example of what kind of artist Harry is. He plays music from the heart, he digs deep into himself to find inspiration, to find his voice, and he pays close attention to what he wants to say. He said the sort of idea behind this album was to release songs that would still leave his life a mystery. As the poster boy of One Direction and someone the media loves to hate, his entire life to this point has been nothing but a spectacle. That’s why he wanted to write this album on his terms, and he said he felt like he did.
The songs do reflect certain people, ideas, and times in his life but he also says that he leaves his music open to interpretation, which is something he loves about music. That we can all hear one song and take from it a million things. He doesn’t like to tell his audience who/what his songs are about because he wouldn’t like it if that were done to him. He wouldn’t want to hear that the songs he loves as a fan aren’t about what he interprets them to be about.
Speaking of those songs, this album has a mix of incredible ones. The start to his album is ‘Meet Me in The Hallway’ which is an emotional number about needing someone but hanging in the balance.
From ‘Sign of the Times’ and ‘Carolina’ to ‘Two Ghosts’ and his rock anthem ‘Kiwi’ – Harry had a lot to say, a lot of emotion to feel, and a lot of experience to fuel the lyrics.
The documentary shows Harry, and the band’s, time in Jamaica – they rented a house, cut off from the world, and lived with the songs they were writing. They laughed, they worked out, they swam in the ocean, and they made an album that’s sure to go down in music history. It is an incredible feeling to watch the documentary as fan, we imagine that they feel ten times that pride when they got to see what came of the time they spent there. The album is also focused on Abby Road – the studio where so much incredible music has been born – he performed each song there and clips of that are shown as Harry talks about making each one.
There are moments in the documentary that change Harry too, from the infamous haircut to seeing a sense of relaxation and joy creep back into his face and seeing friends and family by his side in some of the clips – you get a (small) look into who he is as a person as well, when the lights fade and it’s himself and those he loves.
The documentary is informative as much as it is a personal story and as fans of music in general, we’d love to see this come from other artists as well. It tells a whole new story to go alongside the music and makes for an incredible experience.
If you’ve not yet seen Harry Styles Behind the Album, you can catch it on Apple Music, if you’re a fan, or even if you’re not, we recommend watching it.
‘…but I knew him’