The Golden Age of Harry Styles: an Interview with Resident Expert

Image courtesy of Vulture.com

Annie Watson

Following Monday’s release of Harry Styles’ music video, “Golden,” I knew exactly who’s insight myself and The Dig would benefit from: Becca P. ’21.

We covered a wide range of topics during our 45:54 minute interview, discussing Harry’s solo career, One Direction, and the newest music video. If you’re interested in a more focused analysis of “Golden” itself, check out this article by Mia Fitzloff! But before we really “dig” in, so to say, I’d like to provide a bit of context as to how I got here.

Do I strike you as someone who might get really into Harry Styles? This isn’t rhetorical, I’m honestly so curious because this phase hit me like a bus. It happened in May of this year. Like everything else that’s occurred in 2020, I didn’t see it coming and felt unprepared. I didn’t have time to experience interests, joy, or hobbies last spring. But that didn’t stop me from spending an ungodly amount of hours looking at Harry Styles and One Direction interviews on YouTube, discovering their music, memorizing passages of their assorted Wikipedia pages to recite at weddings/funerals, and taking (& retaking) topical Buzzfeed quizzes until I aced them.

The amount of things I have to say about Harry Styles is, in an overused 2020-buzzword, unprecedented. The only other article of mine that’s ever had a 10+ page draft was the Sleep Area Review (and that was due to the images). I skipped dinner to transcribe this interview, and didn’t even notice. Why? Because this topic sustains me. When it’s late at night and my nihilism kicks in, I actually finish my homework now because I have a half-joking, half-serious plan to become famous in my own regard so I can meet Harry as an equal (that’s a reach, but like, as someone who at least has a Wikipedia page).

And yet, even with all the time I have devoted to research, I am a fairly unknowledgeable fan due to my cowardice to engage in one particular forum: Stan Twitter (the final frontier). And Tik Tok but that’s another story. With the help of Harry Styles expert, Becca P. ‘21, I present an interview on the Golden Age of Harry Styles…

When did you become a Harry Styles fan? “It’s actually kinda complicated, and I haven’t been a full ‘fan’ fan for that long. I obviously knew who he was, and knew about One Direction, and I had listened to some songs. And I liked him, but I wasn’t really that into it, you know? Honestly it wasn’t until February that I really started listening to all his albums, and like, going back into my ‘One Direction phase.’ And I never really had like a full One Direction phase in elementary or middle school, so I was really enjoying it now. So yeah, I had plenty of time to really dive down deep. Really fast.”

I couldn’t help but notice a theme within Becca’s Senior Spotlight answers…

In your Senior Spotlight, you listed Harry as your hero. Can you speak as to why you chose him? “It was partially a joke, but also it is true. I think a lot of people assume Harry Styles fans are just like fans because he’s attractive, which is really not true. Obviously he’s an attractive person, but I’m not like, ‘Oh, I wanna marry him, I wanna date him.’ Like, I would rather be a friend or something, but that’s also still weird. He’s just such an authentic person, or at least from what you can tell, and he genuinely wants to make the world a better place. And at the same time, he’s not afraid to dress and be himself, and break certain molds that have been put in place for a long time. Having someone so famous and masculine be so in touch, especially with their feminine side, is really, I think, important, and it shows that it’s okay. Seeing someone that famous be so comfortable with themselves makes it like everyone else can start to feel more comfortable with themselves.”

You also listed your ideal place to live as London, was this a coincidence? “Kinda, yeah. Like, honestly just like some of my favorite celebrities are from the UK, so I was like, London’s cool.”

What are some other UK celebrities you like? “All sorts of musicians, like, some of my favorite musicians are British, but also just some actors, like all the Harry Potter people, and like, Florence Pugh and stuff.”

Yeah, how do you feel about Don’t Worry Darling? “I’m so excited. Honestly, like even if Harry wasn’t in it, I’d still go, definitely go see it, ‘cause the rest of the cast looks amazing, the concept seems amazing. I like Olivia Wilde. So the fact that he’s in it is just like, *chef’s kiss* like the icing on the cake. So I’m really excited, I think it’s gonna be really good.” 

Do you have a favorite SNL sketch that he’s in? “Oh my God, they’re all so funny. I thought his episode was like really good in general, but I love the one where the song he sings is like, ‘They call me pig-boy ‘cause I be squealin.’ I die every time I see that one. And the dog one, like when he turns into the dog.”

Do you have a favorite song by Harry? “I think technically, I would say “Fine Line” off the album Fine Line, but I genuinely like all of his songs, and it kinda depends what mood I’m in, like if I’m working out, or really like up, it might be like “Kiwi” or a more upbeat song. Or if I’m feeling sad, then I listen to his slow, sad songs.”

Favorite cover that he’s done? “Probably Girl Crush or Ultralight Beam. I loved what he did with Ultralight Beam, ‘cause it’s like a cover, but he also changed it a bunch.” 

Do you consider yourself a One Direction fan? “I do, yes. I’m technically considered a post-hiatus fan because I really became a fan after hiatus.”

Do you think they’ll get back together? “Um no, I think they might do some sort of reunion or concert, or maybe like a small tour, or some like, small thing? Where they perform together, or release some song. But I think actually, like, getting back together, I just don’t think so. I think as wonderful as One Direction was, it was also really terrible to them, like they were really overworked, and like, going on 4 tours and producing 5 albums in the span of 5 years is crazy and they had like, no control over their lives, and a lot of them have like mental health issues, like eating disorders, and depression and alcoholism, which you don’t really like see or think about. I think all of them have grown a lot more. I think they’re all probably happier doing their own music.”

Do you listen to the rest of the boy’s solo stuff? “Yeah, I think music-wise, my favorite solo music is Harry’s, but I also like Louis’ a lot and Niall’s. And then, okay honestly, I don’t really listen to Liam,” I nod, Becca nods. “Yeah. But Zayn has a couple really good songs that I like. He’s talented. But yeah, Niall’s newest album I liked a lot.”

Do you have a favorite 1D album? “Either Made in the A.M. or Midnight Memories.” Nice, I feel probably the same. I kinda like Four. “Yeah, the last three are just so much better than the first two.” Yeah, I mean the first two, they don’t sound like them so much. “Yeah, it’s just like bubblegum pop because it was other people writing. And then Louis wrote most of the last three albums. And Liam helped a bunch. And some of the other guys wrote a couple songs, but it’s crazy ‘cause Louis Tomlinson wrote, like, all of Midnight Memories.” Yeah! “Which, I feel like people are like, ‘Oh, I don’t like Louis, but Midnight Memories is my favorite album,’ and it’s like, ‘Oh.’”

Do you have a favorite 1D song? “Kinda similar to Harry’s, it changes like everyday, but I like Happily a lot, and If I Could Fly a lot, I like “Temporary Fix” quite a lot too.” Yeah, that one was a Niall song, right? “Yes, it was.”

Do you remember when and where you were when you found out Zayn left the band? “Honestly, no, like I remember when it happened ‘cause everyone was freaking out, but at that point I wasn’t really as into One Direction, ‘cause y’know, I was like, ten, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not like other girls.’ I knew what was happening, and I was like, ‘Oh wow, that’s like, crazy,’ but it wasn’t like I was sitting in class and I heard, like no, I just kinda vaguely remember.”

Did you see Harry’s tweet yesterday about “voting with kindness”? “I did, and I appreciate that because he’s not very active on social media, but since he has such a large platform, like that’s still really nice that he’s sharing that because he reaches millions and millions of people. He’s like British, but still. Niall is also quite politically active, like he hates Trump, which is kinda funny, I mean not funny, but he’s pretty open about it.”

Where do you get the majority of your news about him? “Stan Twitter and Tik Tok. I don’t personally have accounts, I just, I’m kinda there, so I like know what’s going on. And I’m not gonna lie, there’s a lot of really toxic people on them, and I’m kinda on multiple sides of the fandoms, like, I follow Solo Harries, OT5’s, Larries, and like all sorts of people, so then I see them, like, fighting with each other, and I’m like, ‘sick.’”

Okay, could we touch on the subject of being a Larrie? Cause, like, you are one, right? Becca laughs, “Yeah. Yeah, there’s some people who are like, really disrespectful I think, as Larries, and they’re like, super aggressive with it, like I think you have to remember that just because you think they’re cute together, like, there’s still boundaries, and you’re still talking about someone’s sexuality and stuff, and it’s like, not really our business. But I do think something happened, at least it used, like back during One Direction, I think they might’ve broken up, like I don’t know if they’re still together now, like I mean, it’d be cool if they were, but I think mostly the bigger issue is closeting in the music industry, and there’s so much evidence of them being closeted.”

By Modest? “Yeah, their management has history of closeting other celebrities and artists as well, who have eventually come out as gay or some part of the LGBTQ community. So I think that’s the bigger issue, and it’s just unfortunate that they had, if they are, that they weren’t allowed to come out and they had to act a certain way. ‘Cause most people believe that they were closeted and it’s because they needed to appear, like, ‘available’ for their audience and stuff.” 

How confident are you that they were a thing? “After hiatus, I don’t know, it gets kinda tricky, but during One Direction, especially the first few years, I’m like,” she pauses to gauge, “like, 90% confident. I think something definitely, I think they definitely did something.”

Yeah, I was kinda curious, so like, ‘cause the contract with Modest ended or something, if it’s real, why do you think they like, continued to deny it? “Um, okay so like, their Modest contract only ended, I think, a couple months ago, and they also have other contracts with certain recording agencies and things, and I’m not that knowledgeable, but I think, the thing is, a lot of stuff has been happening in the last few months, like some articles talking about, like, Eleanor, Louis’ girlfriend. Almost everyone thinks they broke up. But I think they won’t come out for a long time because, if you think about it, they’re both so famous. To come out individually, or as a couple, that would completely change the music industry. Like, having two gay men at that level, it would totally change so much. So I think, if it was, it would take a long time, like it slowly has to be put in place, like articles coming, some starting to interact in the public again, so I think, if it happens, it’s gonna be stretched out over a while.”

My last question about it was, like, I haven’t found solid data on the breakdown of what percentage of his fans are Larries. What would you guess? “I would guess, okay, so it depends whether you’re talking about Solo Harry fans or people who are One Direction fans who support Harry because it gets quite complicated. It’s honestly crazy. There’s some solo Harry fans who like hate 1D, and only care about Harry and hate the other boys, and there’s some who like only like Harry and Louis, and some who like all five of them equally, and just random combinations, and that’s why Twitter gets, like, really crazy and there’s a lot of fighting. But I would say… I honestly think about 50%.” “Really!” I say, visibly surprised. “Well, maybe not 50, but like, a decent chunk believe or would be really supportive and are open to it, y’know? Like not actively against it. But I think a higher percent of Solo Harries are not Larries, and a higher percent of like, OT5’s and people who also stan Louis, are Larries, so it kind of balances.”

What’s your opinion on fanfiction? Disrespectful in general, or morally permissible? “Um okay, I do have an opinion on it, like, I’m just gonna go out there and say I’ve read some, but like, whatever, it’s basically a book. But I think it depends on the fanfiction. There’s some that are basically just novels, where they put in, like, the two characters as the characters, but I think the ones, when they get really like, ‘graphic,’ or they bring in their families, and make it weird… I don’t read those. I just think, they can get really disrespectful, and I’m like, ‘Why would you write that? And why would that many people read it?’ But I feel like if you keep it, like, PG-13, and are respectful to both of them and their families, it’s fine.”

Did you watch After on Netflix? “I actually watched it with my friends when it first came out a year or two ago. I hated it, like it’s so funny that it’s about Harry, but I thought the movie was terrible.” Becca laughs, “I did not enjoy it. It’s so funny though, ‘cause Liam Payne went live a couple days ago and talked about how his fiance made him watch it. He finished the movie and then found out it was about a Harry Styles fanfiction. He was like, ‘I liked my character.’”

Where were you on July 23rd of this year? “Okay, so it was the day after my birthday, and I was at the beach. We had gotten a little Airbnb, we were isolated, and it was just my family. I definitely though they were gonna release the Infinity music video, so I was quite disappointed that didn’t happen. And all of Twitter thought it was gonna happen. I guess they’re just holding it, ‘cause it’s filmed, we know it’s filmed. It was nice that they tweeted at each other, but I don’t know, I was a little bummed. Ten years is a big milestone, so I was kinda expecting something more.” I recount that I looked up the “Infinity” music video and got faked out by something fan-made. “It wasn’t a good time,” I laugh in sadness. As supportive as I am of free speech, I wouldn’t mind it being illegal to title unofficial works with “(Official Video).”

How about that website, did you go through it? Becca smiles. “Yeah, it was cute, but it was also definitely management, like, the boys probably didn’t know they were making a website. I know they don’t owe us anything, but I was kinda hoping for maybe an unreleased song or something like that ‘cause I know they have a lot. But instead they gave us 4k versions of some of the music videos and video diaries. Which like,” she shrugs, “cool.”

If you could only get the studio version of “Medicine” or “Anna,” which would you choose? Immediately, Becca replies, “Medicine. 100%.” I ask her why. “I like Anna, but 100% Medicine.” I acknowledge the fact that I am a little bit biased.

And now the last question before I get into “Golden”: is there anyone you wanna see Harry collab with, or do you like his stuff on its own? “Okay, I love that he works on his own, but a Taylor Swift and Harry Styles collaboration? I think their relationship was 100% PR. Like, even if you don’t ship Larry, 100% it was a PR relationship. If they could publicly be friends and do a song together, that would be amazing. Or Adele and Harry Styles.”

So about Golden: when and where were you when you first saw it? “I was in my math class,” Becca laughs, “sorry Dr. Drugan. So I kinda stopped, I swiped the screen, and started watching when it premiered.”

What was your initial reaction? “I honestly just smiled through the whole thing. I thought it was cute, and it seemed like he had a really fun time filming it and just seemed to really enjoy both the song and the music video, so I just like, “aww, yay”, he just looks really happy.”

Did you talk to anyone about it afterwards? “Yes, I told my religion class, and my playwriting class I think, to go watch it. And I also talked about it later at volleyball practice, and like, to my friends. So I told a lot of people. I was excited.” I nod, it’s big news. Becca agrees, “it’s also his biggest music video debut he’s had yet, ‘cause it’s already at like 18 million views I think.”

How many of the current 23 million-something views were from you? “Actually, I don’t rewatch music videos that much.” My eyes go wide. I’m starting to realize why Becca gets better grades than me. “Really?” I ask for confirmation. “I mean, I love his music videos, I think they’re really well done, but I mostly just listen on Spotify. I don’t really use YouTube, I don’t know. I like, should rewatch them. That’s a good reminder.”

Do you have a favorite moment from the video? “My two favorite moments, it’s at the end when he’s like leaning on the car, and like, smiling at the people in the car, and I love the blue suit he’s wearing, and then even his dirty vans, so cute.” The no-socks moment was big for me as well. “And then the other moment was when he’s like squatting on the rock, but like when he starts to go crazy? That’s a good moment.”

What do you think about the unreleased lyrics of the song? “Oh my gosh, okay, I think they’re amazing, I think they’re like, heartbreaking, I absolutely love them. There’s theories that it’s about Louis, like, but I think they’re great, and I was kinda hoping he might say it, but I also knew he wouldn’t.”

Do you think they’re about Louis? “I mean, I think they could be, but I also don’t know, like they could be. I think it’s pretty much split between people who think it’s about Louis, and people who think it’s like, Harry talking about his past and future selves and stuff.”

Do you think there’ll be an extended version of the video like “Adore You”? “I really want to, because there were also pictures that came out of him on a speedboat, in a couple different outfits that were not a part of the video [purple thing on pinterest…], so I think they definitely could, and I’m hoping they do, but they did one for Lights Up and Adore You, so it’s definitely a possibility I think.”

Have you heard the rumors that a “Cherry” music video might be next? Becca nods. “Okay, I don’t think it will be. He’s already made five music videos for this album, and he only has one from the last album. So I don’t know if he’s gonna make anymore. And I don’t think it would be Cherry. I don’t know, I don’t think that’s gonna happen.” I comment that “Golden” makes a nice ending for the Fine Line era. “Mm-hm, that’s what a lot of people were talking about, like he started by asking ‘Do you know who you are?’ with Lights Up and then almost just over a year later, he finishes by saying ‘You’re so golden’ and it kinda went: Lights Up was night, Adore You was the morning, Watermelon Sugar was afternoon, and Golden was like evening, dusk and stuff.”

Do you have any predictions about his next album? “I want it to happen soon, but realistically, I don’t think we’re gonna get anything for a long time. He hasn’t toured Fine Line yet, and even though he pushed it back until next summer, it could easily get pushed back more. I kind of doubt he’s gonna release a new album before he tours Fine Line. It depends how corona does, ‘cause if he’s able to go on tour next year, he’ll probably wait until after. And I think Fine Line was so big, and [since then] he’s shot so high, he’s gained so many millions of listeners and stuff like that, that I think it might not be as quick of a turnaround as it was between HS1 and Fine Line.”

Do you have any merch (official or unofficial)? “Hold on, one second.” Becca returns with a an assortment of items. “I have no official merch, but my friends did a Harry Styles themed birthday party for me, and one of the gifts is like a Fine Line thingy, and I got some of his favorite books: Norwegian Wood, and the book that inspired the name ‘Watermelon Sugar’, In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan. I got that little cardboard cut out, a pillowcase that’s currently in the wash, some earrings, and other Harry Styles themed knick-knacks, so that was really amazing.”

Do you talk about Harry around your family? And has it gotten to a point where they put sanctions on the discussion? “I’m allowed to talk about Harry pretty much as much as I want because my brother only talks about fantasy football. So if they limited me, we would have to start limiting him, and he doesn’t want to be limited either. I just feel bad for my mom because I just wanna talk about Harry Styles and One Direction and Louis Tomlinson, and then Will’s talking about fantasy football.”

Do you have plans to see him live someday? “Okay, I currently do not have tickets for Love on Tour,” Me neither “and like, I don’t think I’m gonna buy any for a while, or like, unless it becomes obvious that it’s actually gonna happen anytime soon, ‘cause right now it’s scheduled so far out and it’s probably gonna get pushed back more that like, I have no idea what’s gonna be going on, like I might be in college at that point, across the country, like, who knows where? So, I don’t think until things are more settled that I’m gonna purchase tickets, but I do really wanna see him live. I think he’s an amazing performer, he has really great stage presence, which is unique.” 

Do you agree with all his fashion choices? Without hesitation, Becca replies, “Yes. I know some people have disliked a couple of his suits and some of his more bold choices. I will say the neon yellow Brit awards suit was a choice. I wouldn’t say I disagree with it, but it was definitely a choice. But he made up for it later when he performed in the whole Gucci white lace suit with gloves. Total prince vibes, I love that suit. And honestly, I haven’t disliked a single one of his outfits. I have some that I like more than others, but I think for the most part, he dresses quite well.”

Do you have a favorite hairstyle of his (a year/era)? “Mm-hm, yeah. I like all of them; he looks good all the time, but I think my favorite is ‘prince hair.’ Before it got super long, and it was just starting to skim his shoulders, still long enough to kinda be down, I think that one’s my favorite.”

Do you have any final thoughts, comments, or questions? Becca holds up a peace sign. “Treat people with kindness!”

Thanks for reading, and if you’re eligible, vote with kindness! ✌️