A regular patron walking through Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino may have felt a bit out of place Thursday evening. Lines of people in their early 20s were decked out in elaborate outfits that featured sparkly jumpsuits, rainbow boas, glow-in-the-dark cowboy hats and sheer crop tops — an ode to the flamboyant and fashion-forward pizazz of the singer, Harry Styles, thousands were planning on seeing that night. The casino was packed with fans holding signs saying “Disrespect Me!” and “Adopt Me Please!” in order to grab the singer’s attention inside the 10,000 seat arena during the “Harry Styles: Love on Tour” concert.
The One Direction days
Styles gained initial fame when he auditioned for the British version of the X Factor at the age of 16 in 2010. After failing to progress past bootcamp as a solo artist, he was put together in an ensemble with four other boys who were also cut — Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik — forming the band One Direction. The group finished third in the competition, but their success had just begun.
The band’s debut single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” was released in September 2011 to commercial and critical success, followed by their first album “Up All Night” later that year. The debut album featured fun, upbeat and catchy tunes such as “One Thing” and “I Want” that highlighted the innocence and lovability of the boys, creating their pristine boy-band image.
Styles quickly stood out as the fan-favorite with his long, brown curly hair, dimpled smile and prankster personality. His voice was one of the ensemble’s strongest, which led him to have many solos and become the “face” of the band.
Following their newfound fame, the band consistently released music and toured throughout its five-year stint. Each year, they released a new album that gradually matured in sound as the boys grew older. Their 2012 album, “Take Me Home,” featured bright electric guitar sounds with messages of unrequited love. “Midnight Memories” (2013) had a rockier and more grown-up tone, with Styles authoring tracks including “Happily,” a fan favorite, and “Something Great.” The band released two more albums — “Four” (2014), which featured the popular single “Steal My Girl,” and “Made in the A.M.” (2015), a bittersweet farewell with the song “History” — before the band took an indefinite hiatus.
“Harry Styles” and “Fine Line”
In 2017, Styles released his debut solo album “Harry Styles,” which explored themes of lovers and relationships. The sound of the album featured soft rock and 1970s rock melodies. Styles’s debut single from the album, “Sign of the Times,” is an almost six-minute soft rock ballad with inspirations from soul and indie rock. The song sets Styles apart from his boy band days by steering clear of generic pop radio trends. With a blend of ballads and high-energy rock, tracks from the album range from soft musical numbers, such as “From the Dining Table,” a song about missing an ex-partner to “Only Angel,” a guitar-heavy rock number. “Kiwi,” a true upbeat rock anthem about the classic femme fatale, and “Two Ghosts,” a soft rock ballad about old lovers dashed with a light country twang, stand out as some of the album’s top songs.
Following the critical and commercial success of “Harry Styles,” the singer’s second album, “Fine Line” (2019) highlights themes of breakups, kindness and — as Styles himself describes — “having sex and feeling sad.” Inspiration for the album stemmed from Styles’ heartbreak after his failed relationship with French-American model Camille Rowe. A voicemail Rowe left for Styles is even featured in the album at the end of the heartfelt song “Cherry.” “Fine Line” is a more adventurous album with Styles integrating layers of harmonies in the song “Golden” and a funk guitar rhythm in “Adore You.” His most well-known single from the album “Watermelon Sugar,” which won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance, is a song about the shared pleasures of oral sex and the female orgasm famously disguised as a lively summer tune.
While Styles is on tour for another month, fans anxiously await new music and glimpses into other aspects of his life, offered through his upcoming movies, “My Policeman” and “Don’t Worry Darling,” as well as modeling campaigns for Gucci. Harry Styles is one of the top names in the music industry and with fans staying by his side for the past 11 years, it is clear that his popularity is here to stay.
Rebecca Carcieri is an arts & culture editor. She is a senior from Warwick, Rhode Island studying political science.