Harry Edward Styles (born 1 February 1994) is an English singer, songwriter, and actor. His musical career began in 2010 as a solo contestant on the British music competition series The X Factor. Following his elimination early on, he was brought back to join the boy band One Direction, which went on to become one of the best-selling boy bands of all time.
Harry Edward Styles was born on 1 February 1994 in Redditch, Worcestershire, England, the son of Anne Twist (née Selley, formerly Cox) and finance worker Desmond "Des" Styles. When he was a child, he moved with his parents and older sister, Gemma, to the village of Holmes Chapel in Cheshire. His parents divorced when he was seven years old and his mother later was remarried to Robin Twist, who died of cancer in 2017. Styles has an older stepbrother named Mike and a stepsister named Amy, children of Twist. Styles said he had a "great childhood" and was always supported by his parents. As a child, he recorded covers on a karaoke machine he was given by his grandfather, and the first song he recorded was Elvis Presley's "The Girl of My Best Friend". Styles attended Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, where he was the lead singer for the band White Eskimo, which won a local Battle of the Bands competition. At the age of 16, he worked part-time at the W. Mandeville Bakery in Holmes Chapel.
Styles (left) with One Direction on The X Factor Live Tour in 2011
Following a suggestion from his mother, on 11 April 2010, Styles auditioned as a solo contestant for the seventh series of the British televised singing competition The X Factor, singing a rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely". He advanced to bootcamp, but failed to progress further. Four others in his age group also failed, but they were put together as an ensemble in July 2010, during the bootcamp stage of the competition, thus qualifying for the "Groups" category mentored by Simon Cowell. The group consisting of Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik, got together for two weeks to practise. Styles said he had suggested the name One Direction to his bandmates and they agreed to keep it. They began to gain considerable popularity in the UK, and within the first four weeks of the live shows, they were Cowell's last act in the competition. The group eventually reached The X Factor final, and finished in third place.
His self-titled debut album was released in May 2017, whereupon it debuted at number one in several countries, including Australia, the UK and the US. The record was influenced by 1970s soft rock and was described by Variety as a "classic cocktail of psychedelia, Britpop, and balladry". The album received generally favourable reviews from critics, and was included in several publications' lists of the best albums of 2017.Harry Styles yielded two more singles, "Two Ghosts" and "Kiwi". The film, Harry Styles: Behind the Album, which documented the writing and recording process for the album, was also released in May exclusively on Apple Music. Styles embarked on his first headlining concert tour, Harry Styles: Live on Tour, from September 2017 through to July 2018, performing in North and South Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The tour setlist included covers of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain", several One Direction songs, as well as previously unreleased material.
"Lights Up", the lead single from Styles' second album Fine Line, was released in October 2019, debuting in third place in the UK. The song features a "soft-touch re-entry into the pop slipstream" according to music writer Jon Caramanica. Styles performed "double duty" as host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live in November. The second single preceding Fine Line, "Adore You", was released in December, peaking at number seven in the UK and at number six in the US. Styles also once again guest hosted The Late Late Show with James Corden that month.
Fine Line followed on 13 December. The album was recorded at the Shangri-La studio in Malibu, California with the same production team behind Styles' debut album, and features a similar sound sonically to Harry Styles, while incorporating additional elements of funk and soul. It received generally positive reviews from critics. The album debuted at number three in the UK, and topped the US charts, breaking the record as the biggest sales debut from an English male artist in the US since Nielsen SoundScan tracking began in 1991.[a] Singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks, who referred to Styles as "the son [she] never had", likened Fine Line to Fleetwood Mac's album Rumours and commented that it inspired her to write new music.Rolling Stone ranked it at number 491 in their 2020 list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Four other singles, "Falling", "Watermelon Sugar", "Golden" and "Treat People with Kindness", were released from the album. "Watermelon Sugar" became Styles' fourth UK top-ten single, charting at number four, as well as his first number-one single in the US. A tour to support Fine Line, entitled Love On Tour, was set to take place throughout 2020. Styles has postponed the European and North American legs of the tour until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Styles's musical style has been described as soft rock, pop, and rock, with elements of folk and Britpop. The musical style on his debut solo album was described as a "mish-mash of Los Angeles' style classic rock and ballads" by NME, invoking an "intimately emotional Seventies soft-rock vibe" by Rolling Stone, and "synthesis[ing] influences from the last half-century of rock" by Time magazine. His debut album was influenced by the music he grew up listening to, such as Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac, as well as the songwriting of Harry Nilsson. Styles praised Nilsson's lyrics as being "honest, and so good, and I think it's because he's never trying to sound clever." Upon listening to Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon as a child, he said he "couldn't really get it, but I just remember being like – this is really fucking cool." He has also cited Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley, and Paul McCartney (including his side project Wings) as influences, while mentioning Shania Twain as his main inspiration both musically and in fashion.
Styles's favourite album is Astral Weeks by Northern Irish musician Van Morrison, which he called "completely perfect"; he also considers Etta James's album At Last! to be "perfect". Joni Mitchell's seminal 1971 album Blue inspired Styles to contact the album's dulcimer instrumentalist who in turn worked with him on Fine Line.
Regarding Styles' time in One Direction, AllMusic writer Tim Sendra opined that his "charming persona and elastic vocals had him positioned as the Timberlake of the group."Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt described him as "a dimpled, rakish prankster happy to wear the mantle of Class Clown". In 2016, Styles cut his signature long hair, and was featured in Another Man magazine, after which Anne T. Donahue of The Guardian labelled him an "artthrob" who offers "something other than token shirtlessness" and telegraphs "an allegiance to the niche worlds of art and fashion rather than aiming for mainstream notoriety."Billboard's Chris Payne opined that Styles' "vibe has always screamed rock star."
Styles wore skinny jeans, sheer blouses, floral prints, flamboyant suits and heeled boots during his time in One Direction. Nicole Saunders of Billboard noted that his fashion had "blossomed from a teen wearing purple Jack Wills hoodies to a carefully executed blend of '70s rock with a glamorous magpie feel" over the course of the group's five-year stint. As a solo artist, he opted for "candyfloss" custom pink suits, sequined tops, printed satin flares and gradually heightening heels.Vanity Fair's Erika Harwood stated that Styles went from "boy-bander" to "luxury suit connoisseur" in describing his change in style. Styles began wearing sweater vests, baggy high-waisted pants and a pearl necklace in 2019, which prompted Jacob Gallagher of The Wall Street Journal to call him the "popularizer of the manly pearl necklace." For public appearances, he has incorporated a selection of Saint Laurent, Burberry and Gucci, appearing in a number of campaigns for the latter.
His fashion has been noted as "flamboyant", "fashion-forward" and "fun". Citing his use of the colour pink, Styles quoted English musician and The Clash's bassist Paul Simonon in a Rolling Stone interview: "Pink is the only true rock & roll colour."Ann Powers of NPR wrote that his personal style recalls the Spice Girls' "theatrical parade through pop's sartorial heritage" and that he "comforts with fashion's way of telling stories through artful accessories." Tom Lamont of The Guardian noted that some of Styles' fashion choices have contributed to "an important political discussion about gendered fashion."
Styles won the British Style Award at the 2013 Fashion Awards. He was ranked first and fifth in 2016 and 2017, respectively, on British Vogue's "The 50 Fittest Boys" list. He was also voted the "Sexiest Male in Pop" for three consecutive years between 2016 and 2018 in a poll by British radio network Capital. In 2018, Styles was voted fourth on British GQ's list of 50 best-dressed men, in which fashion designer Michael Kors deemed him "the modern embodiment of British rocker style: edgy, flamboyant and worn with unapologetic swagger." He was voted GQ's Most Stylish Man of the Year in 2020.
Styles co-chaired the 2019 Met Gala, which coincided with the art exhibition Camp: Notes on Fashion, alongside journalist Anna Wintour, singer Lady Gaga, fashion designer Alessandro Michele and professional tennis player Serena Williams. In 2020, Styles became the first man to appear solo on the cover of Vogue, for its December issue. Following criticism from conservative commentators and activists for wearing a Gucci gown on the cover, Styles defended his decision by saying, "To not wear [something] because it's females' clothing, you shut out a whole world of great clothes." He went on to say that "what's exciting about right now is you can wear what you like" and that the lines "are becoming more and more blurred."
Styles splits his time between two homes in North London, having previously lived in the Sunset Strip area of West Hollywood, California. He sold his Los Angeles residence having become disillusioned with the city. He also owns a loft apartment in the Manhattan borough of New York City. He lived in the attic of producer Ben Winston's home in Hampstead Heath, London, for 20 months at the beginning of his career while he looked for his own house.
From November 2011 to January 2012, 17-year-old Styles dated television presenter Caroline Flack; their relationship stirred controversy as she was fourteen years his senior. He briefly dated American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift later in 2012, leading to fan and media speculation about them writing songs about each other after their breakup. From 2017 to 2018, Styles was in a relationship with French-American model Camille Rowe who inspired his 2019 album Fine Line.
Styles' sexuality has long been a subject of speculation. When asked in a 2013 interview with British GQ whether he was bisexual, he replied, "I'm pretty sure I'm not." In 2017, Styles said he does not feel a need to label his sexuality, adding that "being in a creative field, it's important to be progressive" and "everyone should just be who they want to be". When asked in December 2019 about his flamboyant image, use of LGBTQ aesthetics and sexual ambiguity, he stated,
Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No. [...] In terms of how I wanna dress, and what the album sleeve's gonna be, I tend to make decisions in terms of collaborators I want to work with. I want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool. And more than that, I dunno, I just think sexuality's something that's fun. Honestly? I can't say I've given it any more thought than that.
In May 2019, Styles was named second on the Sunday Times Rich List of musicians in the UK under 30, with an estimated net worth of £58 million, having previously featured third on the previous year's list with an estimated net worth of £50 million. He maintained his position in second place on the list in 2020 and 2021 with an estimated net worth of £63 million and £75 million, respectively.
Philanthropy and advocacy
In 2013, Styles and fellow One Direction member Liam Payne became ambassadors for the cancer charity Trekstock, and raised over US$800,000 through the online fundraising platform Prizeo. In 2014, Styles endorsed Emma Watson's HeForShe gender equality campaign. In 2015, he sponsored water wells in India via Drop4Drop in support of Life Water'sWorld Water Day campaign. The following year, he donated his hair to the UK charity Little Princess Trust, which supplies and funds wigs made of real hair to children who have hair loss as a result of illnesses. In May 2017, to celebrate the release of his debut album, he played intimate shows at The Garage in London and at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, with all proceeds benefiting charities. That October, he performed alongside other artists at CBS Radio's We Can Survive concert at the Hollywood Bowl for breast cancer awareness. Styles' first tour raised US$1.2 million in charity donations from ticket sales, Live Nation's contributions, and GLSEN's Pride campaign toward 62 charities around the world. It also promoted water conservation via recycling and reducing plastic water bottle usage.
Styles has shown support for the LGBT community by waving a rainbow flag onstage, wearing LGBT-themed clothing and supporting LGBT fans in concerts. In 2018, his online store sold T-shirts with the slogan "Treat People With Kindness" in a rainbow print for Pride Month, with profits benefiting GLSEN. That year, Styles also tweeted in support of the March for Our Lives petition, and added "Black Lives Matter" and "End Gun Violence" stickers to his guitar. Styles identifies as a feminist. In December 2019, in response to not using his influence more to support specific causes, Styles stated:
Because of dilution. Because I'd prefer, when I say something, for people to think I mean it. To be honest, I'm still searching for that one thing, y'know. Something I can really stand up for, and get behind, and be like: This Is My Life Fight. There's a power to doing the one thing. You want your whole weight behind it.
On the impact of events such as Brexit, the Black Lives Matter movement and Donald Trump's presidency on his music, he said that "it's very easy to feel incredibly sad about a lot of things" but that it is "also nice sometimes to remember that while there's a lot of bad stuff, there's also a lot of amazing people doing amazing things in the world." Regarding Brexit, he stated that "anything that brings people together is better than things that pull people apart" and went on to say that it symbolises "the opposite of the world [he] would like to be in." In light of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, Styles posted in support of Black Lives Matter, urging fans to share and donate in support. He attended a Los Angeles Black Lives Matter protest the following month. Despite being a British citizen, Styles endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 United States presidential election.
Treat People with Kindness
"Treat People with Kindness", also abbreviated to "TPWK", is a slogan used by Styles to promote his message of love, acceptance, and kindness to people. Styles started using the slogan on his debut concert tour in 2017, on a badge on his guitar, and on tour merchandise including Pride T-shirts sold to raise funds for GLSEN. In a December 2019 interview he said, "It was a pin I had on my guitar strap and we made T-shirts for it, then I saw a lot of T-shirts around. I'd be driving or something and see someone in one and I started feeling like, 'Oh this is a bit of a thing'". This gave Styles the idea of writing a song to go with the slogan titled "Treat People with Kindness", which is the penultimate track on his second studio album, Fine Line.
In October 2019, teaser posters including the phrase "Do you know who you are?" and the acronym "TPWK" were spotted in London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York, and Australia; fans were able to connect the posters to Styles and his new album release because of the reference to his "Treat People with Kindness" motto. At the same time, to mark World Mental Health Day, Styles launched a website bot called "Do You Know Who You Are?" that gives users positive randomised messages using words such as 'bright', 'determined', 'loving', and 'wonderful', and ending with "TPWK. LOVE, H".
^Weingarten, Christopher R.; Spanos, Brittany; Aaron, Charles; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Sheffield, Rob (29 November 2017). "50 Best Songs of 2017". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 15 September 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
^Weingarten, Christopher R.; Dolan, Jon; Shteamer, Hank; Spanos, Brittany; Exposito, Suzy; Hudak, Joseph; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Harris, Keith; Johnston, Maura; Levy, Joe; Hermes, Will; Sheffield, Rob (27 November 2017). "50 Best Albums of 2017". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018.