Ladies and gents, your Most Handsome Young Man for the year 2015 is Harry Edward Styles. Team Head Over Feels submitted Josh Charles, James Corden, Brett Dier, Clark Gregg, Chris Messina, Jussie Smollett, and Mr. Styles as our nominees, but we left the voting up to you. Harry easily walked away with the crown and more than a third of the vote. (With only a minimal amount of stumping on our part. *angel emoji*) Now that the competition is over, it’s time to celebrate the hell out of our winner. This post may seem long, but 1D said it best: “Too much is never enough.”
Kim: I ashamed to say that when I just thought that One Direction was a flavor of the month boyband, I totally bought into the Harry Styles that was portrayed in the media. He was the “cute” one, with a mop of brown curls and giant eyes (well, I was right in that respect) and the one who dated Taylor Swift and a bevy of other starlets, leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake. It was only when our friend Jaime roped us into the fandom, declaring that Harry Styles was a precious unicorn that must be protected at all costs, that I saw just how wrong I was. Because of course Harry Styles is aesthetically pleasing but what makes him BEAUTIFUL (*nudge nudge*) is his spirit. What makes him beautiful is his talent. What makes him beautiful is the fact that is spite of everything he’s been through he’s only become more self-assured and confident in who he is. He is kind. He is Smart. He is IMPORTANT. So so so important.
As anyone who has ever talked to me about One Direction knows, these boys are my sons. I just want them to be okay and happy and taken care of. (Me to Louis: Let me wrap you in a blanket and shield you from the evils of the world. And tell me…are you eating and sleeping enough? Tell me the truth.) It’s funny with Harry though…I don’t feel the intense need to shield him because I am SO CERTAIN that Harry Styles is going to be JUST FINE. Mainly, I just want to stand back and beam with pride. Look at my son. Look how amazing and brave and funny and talented and gorgeous he is. I couldn’t be prouder of him.
Sage: Our fashion correspondent Maggie likes to say that everyone is a Harry Girl, even if they don’t know it yet. And she means everyone. Babies. Adult men. This dog. I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did, as long as you recognize that there is a part of you either dormant or engaged that thrives on this boy and what he represents.
For me, it all kicked in around April of this year. But even before that, I was aware of my sweet Harru because Boy Band Trash is always Boy Band Trash, even when we’re half-assed about it. Harry Styles was one of the two members of One Direction I knew by name, because he was “The Cute One.” I had the albums on my iPod and had seen a few videos; everyone charmed the pants off of me in “Kiss You,” but only in passing. They were too young, and I try to be creepy within the confines of the law because I am a LADY. Still, I vaguely kept up with 1D and watched their Saturday Night Live appearance in December of last year. This was just about the time that Harry began defining his ostentatious rock star style. The hair was growing out; he was in a hat I’d never before seen on a person of his age or in this decade. And because I knew nothing Jon Snow, I assumed that Harry’s changing look was an effort to hipster-distance himself from the band. And there’s nothing that offends me more than someone who’s thrived in the mainstream who then turns his back on it because TOO COOL. (Now you know why I don’t miss Zayn.) I would like to publicly apologize to 2014 Harry Styles, because I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG. I like happy people who love what they do and do what they love. And does anyone in pop music – nay, music in general – fit that description more than Harry?
The people who do fame right, in my opinion, are the people who leave me feeling inspired instead of jealous. Being aware of Harry Styles is a gift. Watching him move through his strange, challenging, and wonderful life with passion and grace is honestly an addition to mine. This is painfully gushy already, and we’re not even past the intro. ALL THE LOVE. All of it.
1) He IS a Handsome Young Man.
LOOK AT THIS LITTLE PEACH. Let’s talk about how gorgeous Harry is. He’s always been cute AF but (as in the case with most men, which is completely unfair) as he gets older he just gets more and more handsome. He’s grown into his face…the giant eyes and Mick Jagger mouth and angular jaw that made fetus Harry look like the most beautiful Alien to have blessed us with his presence FIT him now. His eyes are greener than green and they sparkle like diamonds. His megawatt smile could solve the world’s energy crisis if we could just figure out how harness its power. If I were one to write poetry, I would write SONNETS about his dimples. Nothing gives me life like a full out Harry Styles smile. NOTHING. He lights up my world like nobody else. The way that he flips his hair gets me overwhelmed.
A POX ON ANYONE WHO TELLS HARRY EDWARD STYLES TO CUT HIS HAIR. His hair is beautiful and you know what? The long hair fits his face and makes him look like the Rock God that he is. And I have SO MUCH HAIR ENVY. Seriously, Haz. Teach me how to do those beautiful loose waves. I need to know.
In all seriousness, I equate Harry growing out his hair with him taking ownership over his public perception. This is when Harry decided he had no more fucks to give and it’s BEAUTIFUL. Interviewers loooooooooooove questioning Harry about his hair and he just shrugs and is like “That’s fine, you can think it’s weird but I love it.” (Alan Carr: “I don’t like your man bun.” Haz: “That’s okay.”) Or he just gives a patented Harry Styles Internal Screaming gaze (please to see the below moment on The View where he was touched without permission) and you KNOW he’s just thinking “I DO WHAT I WANT”. Also “Don’t touch me, only one person can touch my hair like this and it’s not you.”
I love how Harry says he’s not planning on cutting his hair any time soon. (“Gotta cover the nips.” – Louis Tomlinson.) I love that whenever he DOES cut his hair, he plans on donating it to charity. While I’m super curious to see what Current Harry’s face would look like with 2013 Hair (I have a feeling I would pass out), right now I’m just content to bask in how much he loves his hair. LONG HAIR DON’T CARE.
And then there’s the body. Harry is tall (SO TOL) and lean yet not overly defined. (Never lose those TINY love handles, Haz. They are my favorite thing.) He’s gangly in the best way, with long arms and legs and giant hands. His is a body that was MADE to wear high-end designer clothes, so it’s a good thing his taste leans that way. Honestly, the only solo career that Harry should be pursuing over this hiatus is being a model for Gucci. Could you IMAGINE his print campaign? I cannot.
Long story short, we couldn’t have a more worthy successor to the throne of Most Handsome Young Man. Harry is an angel among mere mortals. To borrow the immortal words of another famous boyband…God must have spent a little more time on him. –Kim
2) “It’s a Gucci Suit.”
As Kim established in the previous section, Harry Styles would look good in anything. (See Frat Boy Harry for proof that even a backwards snapback and a flannel are high-fashion on this kid.) But Harry’s developing personal style is so divine because he – more than any of his bandmates and more than most dressers in general – uses his wardrobe to express who he is. He’s also the only member of OT4 who can consistently answer the question “Who are you wearing?” on the red carpet. The rest of them are a stylist’s nightmare, bless their heathen hearts.
Sometimes I muse over which half of his closet I prefer: the side that holds his worn-out Stones t-shirt, soft shearling coat, and Packers beanie – “Harry At Rest,” let’s call it; or the side that sparkles in painted-on skinnies, flashy printed blouses, lustrous boots, and the entire Gucci Fall/Winter 2015 collection. But then I remember that Harry doesn’t discriminate between them, and so neither should I.
Since being pulled into this fandom, I marvel every day at how much Harry is. He’s entire constellations burning away in one beanpole body. And he more than gets away with even the most extravagant, gender-blurring looks that he chooses because he’s too damn present and radiant and full of life to let the clothes overwhelm him. (Also he gives no fucks what assumptions people might make about his personal life or sexuality based on what he wears, and that’s so important.) I’ve seen photos of some of these pieces on the catwalk and on the hanger, and they’re beautiful. But put a garment on Harry and it becomes something else completely. If clothes were sentient (I’m awaiting my royalty check, Pixar), they’d aspire to be chosen by Harry Styles. No better life for a pair of Paige jeans, I’d say.
I could talk about Harry’s sartorial courage and how meaningful it is all day long, but our fashion blogger Maggie may have a little end-of-year treat for admirers of Styles’s style. So I’ll leave it here: I love that Harry uses clothes to say something to the world, but never takes himself or his wardrobe too seriously. I love that he looks good in literally all the things. And I love that he’s getting the positive reaction he deserves for being an incredibly fashionable example of embracing one’s uniqueness. –Sage
3) That Rock and Roll Voice
When you look at the boys of One Direction, based PURELY on their voices, I can completely understand why most people would expect Harry Styles to go solo. Harry’s voice is one that’s MADE to fill stadiums. His voice is deep and rich. It’s full-bodied yet raw. It’s a voice that’s made to carry power choruses, which is the very reason Harry usually SINGS them. Harry sings from his GUT. He pours everything he has into it and it’s glorious. He hits those glory riffs in “Drag Me Down” (even when his voice is tired and ragged) and if you don’t feel something in your TOES, something is wrong with you. The way his voice soars during the chorus of “Story Of My Life” is what I want heaven to sound like. The way he wails “I know we’ll be alright, child. Just close your eyes and seeeeeeeeeeee…” during the bridge of “Walking in the Wind” makes me toss out my arms in pure abandon, just wanting the sound to completely wash over me.
Lest you think Harry is all power and no subtlety, allow me to direct you to his gentle and delicate vocals on songs like “Home” and “If I Could Fly”. His vocals for “If I Could Fly” sound like he’s close to tears, they are that raw and emotional. In the wake of Zayn’s departure, Harry has been pushing himself when it comes to his upper range. His gentle falsetto when he sings “I waaaaaaas stumbliiiiiiiing” made me sit up and exclaim “Zayn WHO?” Don’t believe me on all the shades of Harry’s voice? Please enjoy this montage which is everything from Fetus Harry to 2015 Harry. He’s only gotten better since the group has started. Think of how much better he’ll be once his voice has had a year to rest.
Don’t get me started on his speaking voice. Much like Paul McGann, I compare it to honeyed gravel. It’s slooooooooooow and lazy and warm like a bourbon on a cold winter’s night in front of a fire. I could listen to him talk for hours and his voice is so unique that, try as I might, I can NEVER imitate him in a way that does it justice. One of my greatest annoyances in life is when people think Harry Styles is dim because of the way he speaks. FALSE. He’s deliberate and thoughtful. Every word has weight to him and he takes the time to choose them. Anyone that thinks he’s stupid is probably just jealous of that posh accent. –Kim
4) He can ruin your life with a song.
So I don’t see how anyone can look at the lyrics that Harry Styles (I just like calling him by his full name, okay?) writes and the persona portrayed in the media and NOT see the disconnect. All the “relationships” we’ve seen Harry in have been fleeting flings and yet his lyrics speak to a longing for permanence and something REAL. Sure, you can SAY that anyone can write an achingly honest song but if you think that lyrics don’t come from a real place, you’re insane. Harry can churn out pure pop cotton candy songs like “Perfect” and “Olivia” (“That was ALL Harry’s genius.” – Julian Bunetta) but MOST of Harry’s songs allude to a love that he’s ferociously protective of, a love that’s deep and complicated and messy and REAL above all things. But sure, he’s just a womanizer with no rope for his anchor. OH WAIT.
“The script was written and I could not change a thing. I want to rip it all to shreds and start again. One day I’ll come into your world and get it right I’ll say we’re better off together here tonight. I want you here with me like how I pictured it so I don’t have to keep imagining. Come on, jump out at me. Come on, bring everything. Is it too much to ask for something great?”
Harry may not be as prolific a songwriter as Louis and Liam, but much like his speaking voice, every song he writes feels written with INTENT. You line up the songs that he’s written and it feels like one big story. He just wants something great. Just a little bit of your heart is all he needs. Right now, he wishes you were here with him. He tries to find you but he just doesn’t know where broken hearts go. (I THINK they go to Fiji, but that’s just a guess.) There’s no other place he’d ever want to go. Baby, look what you’ve done to him. Sure, he could just be using the proverbial “you” but too many of his songs sound like a call and response to other 1D songs, so I’m just going to leave that there for you to ponder.
But where Harry outdid himself is Made in the A.M.‘s “If I Could Fly”. THIS SONG YOU GUYS. GOD DAMN HARRY. It’s so intensely personal that I feel like I am eavesdropping on an intimate conversation between two lovers every time I listen to it. When the boys were doing promo for the album, Liam commented that a particular song of Harry’s reduced him to tears. Clearly, it was this one. I don’t know how ANYONE could listen to “If I Could Fly” and NOT cry.
“Pay attention, I hope that you listen ’cause I let my guard down. Right now I’m completely defenseless. For your eyes only, I’ll show you my heart, for when you’re lonely and forget who you are. I’m missing half of me when we’re apart. Now you know me, for your eyes only.”
When Harry brought the song to their producer, Julian Bunetta, Julian commented on the title. Because when you listen to the song, common sense would dictate that the title would be “For Your Eyes Only”. But Harry apparently insisted that the title was “If I Could Fly”. Why? I mean it can’t possibly be because it was meant to directly correlate with a certain song called “Home”, could it? COULD IT? “If I Could Fly Home”, OKAY? “If I Could Fly” is about a love that has been through the wringer but survived. It’s about being completely vulnerable for the one person who holds your heart in their hands and offering it to them freely. It’s about trusting that said person will take care of it as ONLY THEY know exactly who you are. It’s so beautiful and open and I just feel BLESSED that Harry was not afraid to make himself THAT VULNERABLE to every single person who bought the record. Thank you for showing us your heart, Haz. –Kim
5) That Stage Swagger
The first time I saw One Direction live was this summer. August 2nd, to be exact. My concert buddy and I waited until the last minute to get tickets, hoping that some seats would open up in the front. Our gamble paid off when we secured FRONT ROW the day before the show. The On The Road Again Tour stage set-up consisted of an end stage, a long catwalk, and then a B-stage in the middle of the floor. Our seats were far left, directly in front of the A-stage. The lights went down, the intro video played, and then the boys came out to the opening riffs of “Clouds.” They dispersed immediately, each running to a corner of the stage to make sure that every part of the stadium felt welcome. Our side got Harry. And as he bounded over to dance right in front of our faces, I involuntarily screamed, “I’M NOT READY. I’M NOT READY.” He has no chill. Why should I?
Oh, to be 21 years old and have this much energy. I don’t know what kind of organic/paleo/vegan supplements Hazza is on, but I want some. I also want to give him a FitBit to wear onstage just once, so I can see how many miles he covers prancing up and down the catwalk. He NEVER. STOPS. MOVING. I physically can’t help quoting Rob Sheffield’s review for Rolling Stone of the OTRA New Jersey concert (which I was also at), so here’s my favorite bit. I may have partially memorized it to describe Harry to n00bs.
Harry Styles, master of the power flounce. For a band that formed on TV, 1D are not done justice by video, because Harry is a performer you have to see live. The way he covers space is insane — imagine if Mick Jagger had the warm and benign heart of Paul McCartney, cast under a magic spell by Stevie Nicks, and you’re about halfway there…It’s like watching the footage of Secretariat running the Belmont Stakes in 1973 — he’s 31 lengths ahead of the other horses, but he speeds up madly for the final stretch because he’s so in love with being fast. That’s what it’s like watching Harry work a stadium. You instinctively think, “Dude, save some for later,” but the whole physiology of saving some for later is alien to the Harry lifeform. The harder he works to give every drop of his Harry-osity away, the more of it he has. Watching Harry spit water and touch his hair makes me want to be a better person.
Some people demand that their rock stars play-play the music-making thingies, but god, what a tragedy it would be to trap Harry Styles behind an instrument. (Exception: he could do wonders with a triangle. OR A TAMBOURINE. “I wanna see the way you move for meeeeee.”) Harry needs complete bodily freedom to spread joy from the VIPs to the cheap seats. And watching him do it is exactly like watching a person living his true calling. Harry was born to perform; and lucky for his fans, he loves it. In the band’s recent Apple London Session, he described being on stage as “addictive” and said that having an immediate connection with fans through music is “why the high is so good.” The terminology he uses makes sense, because I’ve been there and I’ve seen it: Harry transcends this mortal plane when he’s playing a show. He goes to another place, but somehow stays present enough to connect directly with as many individuals as he possibly can in 2 hours. (Your odds of being the subject of Harry focus go up by a few points if you’re a dad. Harry loves flirting with them. Moral of the story: BRING YOUR DADS.)
You know in Moulin Rouge when Satine asks Harold Zidler what kind of fantasy the Duke wants her to be? Bright and bubbly, wilting flower, or smoldering temptress? That’s pre-show Harry, except he decides fuck it, he’ll just be every single one of them. Watch him beam at children and playfully imitate a fan’s dancing. Watch him wring raw emotion out of a ballad he’s sung thousands of times already. And then watch him straddle a railing, whip his hair, grab his crotch, and drop it like there’s no tomorrow. When it comes to Harry, you don’t have to choose.
On stage, Harry transitions from being the softest daisy and the coyest maiden in all the land to being a lusty, gyrating front man and back again, all with the greatest of ease. And when he does sway his hips or arrange his features in an exaggerated pout, he’s not doing it to mock femininity. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. (Harry, after trying out a Manchester accent at a Manchester show: “That’s the most masculine I’ve been all year!”) Harry just is, and he doesn’t waste his energy trying to exhibit some outdated concept of gender. And how do female fans respond to his confidently androgynous stage presence? How did David Bowie’s fans take to Ziggy Stardust? It’s nothing new for women to respond so positively to a performer who doesn’t other them or treat femaleness like some kind of sideshow. In fact, it’s pretty damn sexy. Let’s have another toast to the Haz Almighty. –Sage
6) Yet he’s just a clumsy baby giraffe.
Yet for all his swagger, Harry is still just a clumsy baby giraffe. Sometimes I genuinely think Harry forgets he had a growth spurt and his arms and legs are much longer than they were when he first started performing. All of the boys took tumbles during the OTRA tour but Harry’s always seem to be the most impressive just because of how gangly he is. “I like to think it’s because we always give 110% on stage,” Harry deadpanned when Ellen DeGeneres played a montage of their falls. It’s true. They always DO. And what’s amazing is that they always pick themselves up, laugh, and keep going. There’s video of a particularly painful looking fall (that is NOT the one in the above gif) where you see Harry wincing and trying to walk off the pain. He does and then IMMEDIATELY turns around and grabs his crotch, much to the delight of the audience. That, my friends, is a showman.
I may have watched a vine of Harry tripping and exclaiming “JESUS CHRIST” on an endless loop. It’s delightful, especially how (as you can see in the above video) he doesn’t miss a beat when he picks his “ALL THE LADIES” banter back up immediately. Precious baby giraffe. It truly is impressive how he remains upright.
When they first started, the Backstreet Boy fan in me completely rejected One Direction because they didn’t dance. How can you be a boy band and NOT DANCE? Answer: you compose a band of boys who are all terrible dancers. Let me rephrase that. All the members of One Direction have rhythm, they just reject choreography in favor of flailing about with wild abandon. And no one does that better than Harry. Who needs carefully choreographed dance breaks when you have Harry Styles doing jazz hands and flinging his long limbs about as if they were noodles? NOT THIS GIRL. –Kim
7) He studies rainbows.
Scientific theory: Harry has been studying rainbows so long that he’s actually become one. I just talked to Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson and they say it all checks out.
Until Harry Styles himself tells us how he identifies (and guess what, he never has to), he’s not getting labeled here. But the way that Harry operates in his daily, public life shows his complete disregard for maintaining the image of the macho celebrity who uses and then disposes of women that was prescribed for him early on. He doesn’t present his sexuality as a tease. He doesn’t wave flags or tweet support of LGBTQ causes to bait queer fans or purposely draw controversy. It’s certainly not a plan approved by their old management. (There’s a new visible vein on Simon Cowell’s neck for every time Harry Styles uses a gender neutral pronoun to answer a question about “girls.”) Anyway, the On The Road Again Tour was lit.
I so appreciate the non-Directioner friends who dealt with me during this tour. I’d be out for a social evening but surreptitiously (or not) checking Tumblr the whole time to see what was going down wherever it was that the boys were on stage. The best nights were the nights when Harry Styles would somehow get a hold of a rainbow flag. Sometimes they’d already be thrown on stage. Sometimes, he actually beckon for one. Occasionally, he’d wave it around to a song and then toss it back to the fan. But most often, he’d throw it over his shoulders and wear it as a cape, like the superhero that he is. Acknowledging the official symbol of pride is a decent and human thing that I would hope any pop star would do; holding it in your hand is next level and invites an assumed personal connection. But Harry draped himself in that symbol more than once, and in front of thousands of screaming fans. The casualness of that statement, the repetition – it’s so much more powerful than a press release. At least for now.
It astounds me the lengths that fans and otherwise will go to to convince themselves and others that Harry is 100% straight. Seems like an exhausting and futile mission, but you do you, I guess. Also, even if he were, it’s beyond obvious that he doesn’t care if anyone thinks so. So WHAT IS THE POINT. Anyway, my favorite het-Harry response came after the release of the “Drag Me Down” video, where Harry gets to play with a billion-dollar NASA robot (I’m guessing) and drink out of a vivid and conspicuous rainbow mug. Ready for this argument? He didn’t even know what was on the mug. They just picked one for him. It was the only one they had. It was the first one they saw. Biiiiitch, are you for real? If Justin Timberlake or Nick Carter had been carrying a fucking rainbow mug to a music video set, some Jive executive would have screeched like a pterodactyl and spiked it out of his hand. DMD was the first single off of Made in the A.M. It was the first single without Zayn and part of the lead-in to the public announcement of the break. Nothing is in that video by accident. There is no way that something as instantly recognizable and as potently symbolic as a RAINBOW could sneak into a shot without Harry or the directors being aware. No fooking way.
Here at One Direction, we like to celebrate love. *crowd goes nuts* In all forms. Love is love. And, uh, we believe that love is something that should be celebrated with open arms.
We’re using thousands of words and dozens of gifs for this purpose, but sometimes you just don’t have that luxury. So my Harry Styles elevator speech is this: I admire him because he’s a person at the very height of his fame who refuses to stump for heteronormativity and never hesitates to push against gender barriers, even though his actions may be considered “risky” for someone in his position. I don’t believe that Harry sees the point in being famous if he can’t help people. (That, and the ability to shut down a YSL boutique with 10 minutes notice are the most important.) I think visibility matters and that celebrities with their hearts in the right place can and do make the world a more welcoming place for queer kids. And the fact that Harry Styles happily takes on that responsibility makes me proud to be a fan. –Sage
8) He loves his boys.
The tabloids, specifically The Sun‘s Dan Wootton (or Dan Wattpad as the fandom calls him), would LOVE for you to believe that all the members of One Direction hate each other. (Well except for Niall because everyone loves Niall.) Getting MORE specific, they love to spew lies that Harry hates the boys and the boys hate him and Harry’s just biding his time until he can pull a Justin Timberlake and go solo. (Sage: *whispering* Don’t.) Did you know animosity broke up the band rather than these 4 boys desperately needing some time off after 5 non-stop years? (Robot Harry: HIATUS.) Harry and Louis can’t stand to be in a room together, did you know that too?
Well, all those tabloids can fuck right off because anyone with eyes can see that these boys love each other. They are more than friends, they are brothers. I’m not saying they never fight or piss each other off but above everything else, they love each other. HARRY loves them and they love him right back. Whatever happened at the end of the OTRA tour (conspiracies abound about what REALLY went down regarding that canceled show in Ireland), it has been a GIFT because all of the sudden, it’s like Harry’s a part of the band again and he couldn’t be happier. No more lurking in the background of Niall’s group selfies, Harry’s been right smack dab in the middle lately (usually ensconced next to Lou). My heart has been so full because you can SEE how happy they all are.
I think Niall Horan is one of the great joys in Harry’s life. I think Harry lives to make his Irish Pal smile. I think their love for each other is SO PURE and that Harry sees Niall’s light as one that needs to be protected because God Forbid we live in a world where Niall Horan isn’t the human embodiment of sunshine. Well, it’s either that or Harry is just trying to maintain Niall’s cover for being a mob boss because what do we ACTUALLY know about Niall, really?
Never has Harry’s love for Niall been more evident than Tattoo Roulette. You saw it in Harry’s face that the moment it came down to him and Niall for the tattoo that Harry knew he would be the one to get it. Look at the sheer panic on Niall’s face (that is GENUINE) and look at how Harry goes to comfort him. Even if the box had fallen to Niall, you know Harry would have Katniss Everdeen-ed the shit out of that situation. I’m sure Harry would LOVE for Niall to get a tattoo (and he’ll be there to hold his hand for it), but dammit, Niall will get one on his own terms, not because he lost a game. Not on his watch.
The way they interact on stage is magic. Harry NEVER missed an opportunity to crowd Niall’s space and dance all up on him like a drunken giraffe. He never missed the chance to take the piss out of Niall when Niall was in his boot hobbling around on stage. One might even ponder that Harry broke his own foot in a move of solidarity so that Niall wouldn’t be the only one on stage in a boot. That’s true friendship.
I look at Liam and Harry as a classic big and little brother relationship. You have Liam, the serious and responsible one, and you have Harry, the irrepressible baby brother who just loves riling his elder brother up because it’s SO EASY. Liam’s always looking out for Harry, be it constantly checking in with him when he KNOWS Harry is sick (see: the Live Lounge performance where Harry should have been on total vocal rest) to constantly egging Harry on when he’s having one of his manic on-stage rants. The infamous Poutine Rant of 2015 wouldn’t have gone half as long without Liam there piping in with questions. “Are you going to run for President?”
I saw a fan art of the post-Poutine hair ruffle and IMMEDIATELY bought it as my phone case. I love how it says “You’re insane and I love you.” And I love how Harry’s face says, “Thanks for being there for me, Lima Bean.”
And then there’s Harry and Louis. HarryandLouis. Look, I’m not here to make conjectures about their relationship, because everyone who knows me knows how I feel about them. All I do know is that I have eyes. And Harry Styles looks at Louis Tomlinson like he hung the damn moon. He’s his sun and stars and everything in between. If you DON’T see the obvious love between them, whatever that love may be, you’re blind.
I’m SO GLAD I wasn’t around for the fetus One Direction days because the sudden and abrupt end of Harry and Lou’s public affection (as Sage called it in our Louis post “the great gay panic of 2012”) would have destroyed me. So yes, up until very recently their public interaction has been subtle, but it’s been there. It’s been there in the way that they are always aware of each other on stage. It’s there in the incredibly eerie way they tend to mirror each other on stage and it’s there in the way they sang “18” to each other every damn night. It’s a bond that refuses to be destroyed. So you can see why we lost our collective shit when on the final night of the OTRA tour when Harry and Louis crashed into each other for their first public hug in damn near 3 years. They fold into each other like they did when they were 16 and 18 and it just screams “HOME”. Baby, you can be enough.
However, the BEST thing about “Next To You November” is that we got to see Harry and Louis being friends again, because they have ALWAYS been friends above anything else. It felt like a BLATANT “fuck you” to the reports of animosity between them but at the same time nothing about their interactions felt like they were only doing it for show. It just felt natural and easy and how it should have been for the last three years. (My head canon for the MITAM promo tour goes something like this: New Management team: You guys KNOW you are allowed to be friends again, right? HarryandLouis: REALLY?!) Look at them laughing together. It’s everything.
9) He loves his FANS.
“We love our fans” is a familiar boy band refrain. We hear it so much that the words themselves have lost all meaning. I’ve been a boy band fan for 20 years and I know when somebody has real gratitude and affection and when somebody is just delivering their lines. Guess which side of the line Harry Styles stands on.
In one of the London Session interviews, Harry talked about how taking an extra moment to connect with a fan on a personal level, even in the middle of a stadium concert, enriches the experience as much for him as it does for the fan. One YouTube search will bring up the time Harry spent 5 full minutes at a show trying to get a fan’s name right (“Lizzy? LACEY?”); dozens and dozens of birthday songs; and, bless his light, Harry correcting the grammar on a fan sign. The crowd at a 1D show are Harry’s playmates for the evening. They’re the unknown element and the variation that makes each concert a unique experience. He does not take them for granted.
Harry’s affection for his fans lives off-stage too. From the accounts I’ve read and videos I’ve seen, run-ins with Harry prove him to be as warm, sincere, and tactile as you’d hope. He doesn’t try to preserve any kind of distance between artist and audience because I truly don’t believe he feels it. No offense, but we’re the greatest team that the world has even seen. And we’re gonna live forever.
I’ve got opinions about the way that One Direction’s audience and teen girls in general are treated by entertainment media (so many opinions), but Harry and his bandmates are always the first in line to jump to our defense. When Made in the A.M. garnered positive reviews from outlets that were obviously pained to have to praise a wretched boy band, the consolation they gave themselves was to predict that 1D’s fans wouldn’t “get it.” But Harry and the boys are so proud of the work they did on that record and they never voiced any concern that their audience wouldn’t follow them to a more mature sound. They know us better than that.
I don’t mean to exaggerate, but I’m pretty sure that a hug from Harry Styles would solve all my problems and make me whole again. Have you seen the way he EMBRACES people? It’s as full-body as everything else that he does. None of this spaghetti-armed, hips-back bullshit for Harry. He cradles fans. He wraps his arms completely around them and crushes them to his chest. I don’t know if this meet and greet story is true, but I Want To Believe: while a fan was hugging Harry, she told him, “I don’t want to let go.” His response? “Then don’t.” He’d have been dragging my ass on stage that night, trust.
My nomination for Time‘s Person Of The Year is the Directioner who happened to be seated next to Harry on a 10-HOUR INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT. How do you human? My idol, who admitted to having been reading 1D fan fic right before HARRY GODDAMN STYLES sat down next to her, told Twitter later that he “took his time” with her, joking and laughing for the part of the flight where he wasn’t sleeping like the Earth Angel he is. Nothing about this story surprises me, except that the girl did not immediately fly out the emergency door like I would have. But Harry has a habit of putting people at ease, even at a cruising altitude of 20,000 feet. –Sage
10) The Family Styles
Being one of our most influential, rulebreaking pop stars may be a destiny that Harry was born to, but let’s not discount the nurturing of his incredible family. Harry is the baby of the Styles clan and grew up in Holmes Chapel, Chesire. (And worked in a bakery with “very nice old ladies” who he goes to visit when he’s in town. It’s fine. We’re all fine here.) Harry’s dad is named Des and his stepfather is Robin and I’m sure they’re great. But this is my post, and I want to shout out the women who raised this magical boy: his mother Anne and older sister Gemma. I worship them from afar and would very much like to stop by to have tea and pet their cats, if they wouldn’t mind.
Big sister Gemma is an icon in her own right, from her tinted hair to her clever writing to her friendship with my spirit animal, Matt Bellassai. She and Haz have obviously remained very close, and she never wastes an opportunity to let the world know how proud she is of him. Their home life seems remarkably normal still, and it makes my heart happy to know that Harry has a sanctuary that he can go to whenever he needs a time out.
A photo posted by G E M M A S T Y L E S (@namelessgem) on
#tbt chrissy 2014 @harrystyles @aconed A photo posted by G E M M A S T Y L E S (@namelessgem) on
In addition to being the source of many painfully adorable Instagrams photos of the kid, Anne and Gemma have both expressed public support of Harry being whoever he wants to be and inspiring other people by doing it. It’s the regularity of it – Anne coining the phrase “heart of gold and boots to match”; Gemma captioning a photo “proud of you in all the ways” – that paints a picture of a true team, who take this opportunity seriously. The Styles Family are squad goals in every way, and I’m so pleased that Harry has them. –Sage
WHEW. That’s Harold in a bloody big nutshell, friends. Did you vote for him for Most Handsome Young Man? What do you love most about Mr. Styles? Let us know in the comments.