By: Alexis Winward
It’s pretty ironic that I’m a Harry Styles fan. One Direction skyrocketed to the top of the music industry when I was only eleven years old. I had previously decided that I despised teen sensation Justin Bieber, so hostility toward One Direction only felt natural. Looking back, it definitely had something to do with proving to my peers that I wasn’t “girly”, but regardless I spent 2010-2013 as a big time 1D hater. Flashforward seven years, I’m nearly twenty-one years old and Harry Styles and One Direction are two of my most listened to artists of all time. Harry has always been my favorite of the five boys; I thought he had serious potential as a solo artist, and of course I’m totally in love with him. How could you not be?
Harry’s debut solo album proved what I had already suspected. He’s more than just a good looking boy band member. He’s a talented, genre-defying songwriter with a unique way of painting a picture for his listeners. Both Harry Styles and his sophomore album Fine Line demonstrate effortless jumps between styles from track to track. He also reminds me of flowers and warm rays of sunlight, so you could say Harry’s music brings me to my happy place. To celebrate Harry’s songs and reflect on his spectrum of styles, I ranked my top five favorite Harry Styles (solo) songs below, along with some blurbs about why I love them so much.
#5 Ever Since New York
I’m not sure which emotion it is, but Ever Since New York off of Harry’s self titled album makes me both incredibly emotional and numb at the same time. Is it longing? Regret? Emptiness? Something else entirely? The vague yet heaviness of this song pulls me in every time I listen. His repetitive, “oh, tell me something I don’t already know,” rings as loud as the catchy guitar riffs throughout the song. It’s a song I can listen to on repeat for as long as I want; it never gets old, the feeling just seems to ferment and grow stronger the more I listen. It’s haunting, wistful, and maybe even regretful, all without bringing down the overall mood of the album (that’s From The Dining Tables’ job). Ever Since New York lands at number five on my list for a few reasons. Mainly, I don’t have as much sentimental or personal connection to it compared to the other songs. I simply recognize how good of a song it is.
Should we just search romantic comedies on Netflix and see what we find?
Another off of his debut album, Woman takes on jealousy in a low-key and psychedelic fashion. This song stuck out to me from the first time I listened to the album way back in 2017. It doesn’t sound like any of the other songs on the album, yet fits in so well. It explores the selfish feelings that always bubble up when seeing an ex move on. The lyrics are dramatic and biting, I can hear the pining in Harry’s voice in each verse. One of my favorite parts of the song comes in the last minute or so; the instrumental stretch includes a hypnotizing bass riff paired with intermittent wails from a guitar. The melodic combination of lyrics, instrumentals, and vocal style of Woman are what put it at number four in my list.
#3 Canyon Moon
If Ever Since New York is a song of longing and emptiness, then Canyon Moon is its antithesis. An upbeat tempo and cute lyrics combined with fun whistling beside the guitar strumming never fails to lift my mood while listening to Canyon Moon. I don’t think this song is included in many other Harry Styles fan’s top five lists, but something about this song keeps bringing me back.
Despite how little lyrics there are in this song compared to some of his others, they paint some very clear and specific pictures in my head as I listen. I see a crystal clear night sky filled with stars while someone I care about sits next to me. I see myself and my best friend driving with the windows down in the middle of summer, smiling and singing the words to our favorite songs. I feel Harry’s excitement as he chants, “I’m going, oh, I’m going home,” and it’s intoxicating. I guess I just really like summer and what it brings, and Canyon Moon represents that concept for me.
I only needed to get a few seconds into this song before deciding it was a new favorite Harry Styles song of mine. It’s another example of a perfect brew of musical elements that just makes my heart and my ears feel. Especially when looking at the lyrics, which present the tune as a faux-love song. I think we can all agree that “she” is not a physical person, but is rather a metaphor of some sort. I personally think of it as a metaphor for femininity, as Harry regularly defies gender roles through music and fashion and receives criticism for it. Next to it’s lyrical theme, She is a beautiful blend of masterful guitar riffs, strong piano chords, and rhythmic drums. The song builds up in a crescendo throughout the first three minutes or so to burst into a passionate chorus after the bridge. Then we hear over two minutes of instrumentals as the guitar spills out the emotions Harry put into this song. The fact that I got chills multiple times while writing this review is pretty telling, the way She seems to wrap me up in its music is why it comes in as my number two favorite Harry Styles song of all time.
#1 Two Ghosts
At the number one spot is Two Ghosts, a song that has been one of my absolute favorites since it came out in 2017. It’s another example of a guitar part that seems to sing along with Harry, playing into the feeling of mourning the lyrics portray. It’s another song about reflecting on the past, but instead of being hopeful like Canyon Moon or regretful like Ever Since New York, Two Ghosts illustrates mourning and loss. Harry looks at someone he lost and repeatedly reminds himself that things are different at the present. “We’re not who we used to be,” emerges as the theme; coming to terms with the fact that time moves on, and things change whether you want them to or not.
Harry Styles came out at a major transition period in my life; it was the end of my senior year in high school, I lost a lot of close friends and needed to cope with the fact that my two closest friends were moving thousands of miles away from me in the fall. Two Ghosts resonated with me, as it echoed the same feelings of loneliness and dejection I experienced. Don’t worry about me, I pulled through that rut when I got to college, but Two Ghosts still sits as my favorite Harry Styles song, reminding me that both Harry and I can get through anything. Not to mention, he references one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs in the lyrics.
There you have it folks, a brief inquiry into my top five favorite Harry Styles songs. If you’re also a fan of Harry’s music, I hope you agreed with the songs I chose and the analyses I made. If not, or if you have other ideas/songs, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d love to discuss more about Harry’s music! For those of you who may not be familiar with Harry’s music but read anyway, I hope this inspired you to check out his music more thoroughly!