As a member of the British boy band One Direction, singer Harry Styles topped the charts, toured the world, and sold millions of albums before going solo in 2016. Born in Redditch, England in 1994, Styles was raised in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, where he would make his first foray into music with his high school band, White Eskimo. In 2012, he left home and joined the seventh season of the X-Factor, where fate (and Simon Cowell) would eventually lead him toward a life-changing opportunity with four other young men. As One Direction, Styles and his group-mates Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, and Liam Payne would release five albums from 2011 to 2015, hitting number one across the globe and selling millions of records to an adoring and rabid fan base that drew comparisons to the fervor at the height of Beatlemania. In early 2016, after Malik had already parted ways with 1D, the remaining foursome announced their indefinite hiatus. Months later, Styles signed a solo deal with Columbia Records. Reflecting the influence of childhood favorites like Queen, Elvis, and the Beatles, Styles' solo material took a more serious and rock-based approach. The first taste of this direction was "Sign of the Times," the Jeff Bhasker-produced lead single from his eponymous debut LP. Released in April 2017, the midtempo anthem drew comparisons to British forebears like Oasis and David Bowie with its plaintive piano and swelling chorus.
Neil Z. Yeung