Why have a Top 10 when you can have one more? Here are our 11 favourite Harry Styles songs, ranked
Harry Styles kicked off his UK tour in Glasgow this weekend, with fans camping outside the stadium for days to secure a prime spot. The queue chaos is further unnecessary proof that Styles is up there with the most fanatically adored artists of this generation, and the praise heaped on him is far from empty. With a discography packed full of thoughtfully crafted pop and stirring, swinging rock, picking favourites was hard even before the arrival of Harry’s House.
It may well be a controversial list, but here are our top eleven Harry Styles songs. Material from the One Direction days has been disregarded – although let the record show that ‘Story Of My Life’ is still a fantastic tune.
11. Watermelon Sugar
‘Watermelon Sugar’ didn’t so much explode into the scene as it did slowly creep up the charts and into our brains. It’s irresistible in its exuberance and eager to (ahem) please, doing everything it can to draw the listener in with joyful vocals and an erupting instrumental. Styles isn’t exactly subtle in his bid to create the song of the summer, but it’s everything over the top, luscious and unsubtle about the track that makes it so much fun.
10. Keep Driving
Is this song mostly just Styles listing things? Yes, alright, but framing a new and exciting relationship as a zany road-trip complete with drugs, side boob and tea with cyborgs is a stroke of brilliance. The fragmented and sometimes random lyrics work together like a scrapbook or a slideshow, giving us glimpses into the relationship but never a full comprehension of what’s going on. It’s a comprehension that Styles doesn’t have either – “Should we just keep driving?” he asks, like he’s not sure. The disjointedness of ‘Keep Driving’ captures a fading distrust in the honeymoon phase better than any complete thoughts ever could.
9. Ever Since New York
This emotional track from Styles’ self-titled debut album shows the singer receiving some bad news in a hotel in Brooklyn. Whilst we don’t know exactly what it is he’s processing, his grief and confusion are evident. Styles has the perfect vocal for a rock ballad, powerful and stirring with just enough restraint. One of his greatest gifts as a recording artist is that emotive voice and we hear it employed beautifully here.
8. Late Night Talking
Most of Harry’s House makes the listener want to move, but ‘Late Night Talking’ is particularly infectious. The synths are expertly employed, the phrasing skips playful over and around the instrumental, and Styles croons his way through the chorus with confidence and charm. It’s nostalgic, it’s cheerful and it’s brilliantly built. Calling a pop song ‘timeless’ is always a dangerous game, but Styles does a fantastic job of not confining ‘Late Night Talking’ to any particular era.
Styles dives headfirst into rock here without a look back. Just a year after One Direction’s split, suddenly the fresh-faced boy band alum is sing-shouting about drugs, prostitutes and an accidental pregnancy over heavy drums and electric guitar. And it works. Styles is utterly convincing in the role of tongue-in-cheek rocker with a nose full of cocaine and ‘Kiwi’ is irresistible good fun.
Styles layers dreamy, vaguely gut-wrenching vocals over a pretty plucked guitar in this vulnerable letter to an ex. The lyrics are simple but never overly simplified and the way in which the strings start to swell and pull off halfway through the track is breathtaking. By the time the beat really kicks in we are on an emotional journey with Styles, one that ends with a dream-sequence voice note from ex-girlfriend Camille Rowe to hammer the whole thing home.
With a gentle piano and a superbly moving vocal performance, Styles creates his most vulnerable ballad to date. Not sure he trusts himself to fall in love again, he pours out his feelings of inadequacy over the keys, with a simple production that never swoops in to draw focus from Style’s melancholy lyrics or his heartbreaking vocals. It’s his voice on that soaring melody that takes this track from great to something special.
4. As It Was
We all know it by now. An astonishing run at the top of the charts made ‘As It Was’ inescapable, but even on the thirtieth listen the track has yet to become grating. Styles welcomes in the Harry’s House era with a display of tight lyricism, infectious production and excellent vocals that combine to form a pretty perfect pop song. A beat you can dance to and words you can cry to – Styles has the formula nailed.
3. Sign Of The Times
Styles’ debut solo single saw him come out the gate swinging. A nearly six-minute ballad was not what the world expected from him, but by the time that falsetto begins there’s no doubting it – Styles is a force to be reckoned with. A huge spacey, Bowie-esque instrumental that makes the listener want to punch the air, tender storytelling and extraordinary vocals make his subsequent ascent to superstardom inevitable.
‘Matilda’ is the most beautiful song that Styles has ever written. The track takes its inspiration from the mistreated Roald Dahl character, but it’s really a love letter to anyone who has ever felt the need to outrun their upbringing. This isn’t Styles’ biggest vocal performance, nor his most interesting production, but his voice is sincere and full of emotion and his plucked guitar sits beautifully under some of the best lyricism of his career. “You don’t have to be sorry for leaving and growing up,” is a perfect, golden line. Take any five seconds of ‘Matilda’ and you will hear some genuine magic.
‘She’ remains Styles’ most ambitious track, propelled to the top spot because of the fact that he completely pulled it off. The tense, sultry and vaguely ominous first verse explodes into a fantastic falsetto, electric guitar-wielding fever dream of a chorus. Whether this song is, like so many suspect, about a suppression of gender identity, or just a track about sex dreams, it’s a remarkable creation. The very best of Styles’ vocals, song-writing and instrumentation feature in this freewheeling, soul-stirring six minutes of rock ‘n’ roll.
Harry Styles is on tour now. Find tickets for other gigs and tours here.