Photo: Helene Pambrun
How Harry Styles Emerged From Teen Pop Sensation To First-Time GRAMMY Nominee
For British singer/songwriter Harry Styles, 2020 was a career-defining year, bolstered by the December 2019 release of his GRAMMY-nominated sophomore solo album, 'Fine Line'
Though many people might want to write off 2020 as a year that never existed, for others, it was a year of growth, change and even success. For Harry Styles, 2020 was a career-defining year, which is no easy feat when the entire world is shut down. The pandemic left him no choice but to put his world tour plans on pause and strategize a new way to not just promote his sophomore album, Fine Line, released in December 2019, but also keep fans' attention.
What followed was a bit of a phenomenon.
Styles, who has been a star since his One Direction days, became a bigger star with every passing day. His album went multi-platinum, he got his first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single with "Watermelon Sugar," he was named Variety's 2020 Hitmaker of the Year, he landed his first-ever GRAMMY nominations of his career (Best Pop Solo Performance for "Watermelon Sugar," Best Music Video for "Adore You" and Best Pop Vocal Album for Fine Line at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show). And the list goes on.
While these accomplishments would add up to a banner year for any artist, what makes it so unique for the British singer is twofold. For one, he's been in the business for a decade already, gaining fame at just 17 as a member of the huge boy band One Direction. While in the group, which came together in 2010 as part of "The X-Factor," Styles and his bandmates Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik found global success, selling millions of records, performing in sold-out stadiums around the world and winning many awards.
However, despite how massive the band became, they didn't quite crossover to listeners of all ages—they had a hard time shaking the boy band label. While their music evolved into a more mature rock sound over the years, they never got to a place where they were wholly appreciated by the public in a way that their fans knew they deserved.
Once the band went on hiatus in 2015, Styles went to work creating his first solo album, Harry Styles. It was released in 2017 to much fanfare (it also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200), but it wasn't until his second solo album that he really hit his stride. With Fine Line he found his musical voice and shared an album that not only resonated with his core fanbase but also brought him further into the mainstream.
From the first single released off the album ("Lights Up" in October 2019) all the way to the most recent video ("Treat People With Kindness" in January 2021), Fine Line has continued to grow. It was with this album that Styles became a household name, disconnected from his boy band roots in a way like never before. Gone are the days where people refer to him as "Harry Styles from One Direction." Now Styles stands alone, proud of where he came from but boldly moving forward on his own path.
The even more stunning part of Styles' year, though, and the second reason 2020 was so out of this world for him, he largely let his fanbase spread the good word about his art. Fans on social media hosted streaming parties for "Watermelon Sugar" to ensure it hit Billboard's No. 1 spot. They've created and sold their own merchandise to advertise his music. As only a dedicated stan army can do, they've made sure that every single thing he does goes viral. Even though Styles himself has a limited social media presence, he's still one of the most noteworthy internet personalities, simply because his fans have kept him there. In a world where social media reigns supreme, he lets his work speak for itself and trusts in his partnership with his fans to help him succeed.
The impact of Fine Line was substantial. Because of it, he is currently in the running for his first three GRAMMYs--Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Music Video for "Adore You" and Best Pop Solo Performance for "Watermelon Sugar." And the numbers also back up his work. Fine Line is RIAA certified double platinum, has over 4 billion worldwide streams and spawned six songs that cracked the Billboard Top 100 chart.
Before the album's release, to promote "Adore You," Styles and Columbia Records created a mysterious world called Eroda that trended before anyone even knew it was for a music video. "Watermelon Sugar" became one of the songs of the pandemic summer after the video dedicated to human touch—which has over 194 million views on YouTube—was released in May 2020.
Not one to ever let the album get stale, Styles continued to remind listeners of its existence throughout 2020, even though the world had shut down and in-person promo wasn't an option. Before that, though, Styles caused a buzz as he took double duty on "Saturday Night Live" in November 2019 as the host and musical guest, as well as performing in BBC Radio1's Live Lounge the following month. After a few shows in Los Angeles, London, and New York in late 2019 and early 2020, Styles hunkered down amid COVID and let his music videos do the talking. Aside from "Watermelon Sugar," he released a video for "Falling" in February and "Golden" in October. Fans may not have gotten to see Styles on the road in 2020, but he made sure to keep popping up on their screens, including a virtual appearance at iHeart Radio's Jingle Ball in December, one of his only in 2020.
But 2020 wasn't only a great year for Styles' music, he also graced multiple fashion magazine covers, continued his relationship with Gucci, and even landed a second major movie role, in Olivia Wilde's upcoming Don't Worry Darling. Not only was he Vogue's first man to pose on a cover alone, he did it wearing a dress. He's continued to quietly advocate for genderless fashion by wearing what makes him happy, whether it's fishnets for Beauty Papers or his everyday pearl necklace. Though many rock stars before him pushed similar gender-bending trends, he's become that person for his generation.
Styles even influenced countless people in lockdown to take up knitting, simply to recreate the J.W. Anderson rainbow patchwork cardigan he wore during a rehearsal for the "Today" show in February. After a few fans fumbled through knitting a copycat, the fashion house published a pattern that spread like wildfire. Suddenly TikTok was flooded with people knitting "The Sweater," and fans all over the world showed off their matching rainbow cardigans in their Instagram selfies from home.
As much as the phrase has been bandied about in recent months, it still holds true: It's Harry Styles' world and we're all just living in it. Despite all the setbacks and hardships, 2020 defined Styles as an artist—not just a musician, but a whole artist. It seems inevitable that Styles will only continue to grow his star power as he draws in more fans for this journey. For those devoted fans who have been there for him since he was just a teenager singing "What Makes You Beautiful," though, his meteoric rise in 2020 just made sense.
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images
Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West
Following dates in Europe and South America, Swift will land in the U.S. for Lover Fest East and West, where the pop star will open Los Angeles' brand new stadium
Taylor Swift will be spreading the love in support of her hit album Lover.in 2020, but it may or may not be in a city near you. The GRAMMY winner announced plans for her summer 2020 tour in support of her seventh studio album, including two shows each in Foxborough, Mass. and Los Angeles for Lover Fest East and West respectively as the only four U.S. dates announced so far.
The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic. I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West! https://t.co/xw6YMN38WE pic.twitter.com/IhVPQ8DMUG— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) September 17, 2019
The tour kicks off in Belgium on June 20 and hits festivals in seven European countries before heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 18 then heading to U.S. Swift will then present Lover Fest West with back-to-back Los Angeles July 25 and 26 at the newly named SoFi Stadium. The concerts will serve as the grand opening of the much-anticipated NFL venue. The tour will wrap a double header at Gillette Stadiuim in Foxborough July 31 and Aug 1
"The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic," she tweeted. "I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West!"
Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster on Oct. 17.
Photo: Harmony Korine
Iggy Pop Announces New Album, 'Free', Shares Title Track
"By the end of the tours following Post Pop Depression, I felt sure that I had rid myself of the problem of chronic insecurity that had dogged my life and career for too long. But I also felt drained… I wanted to be free," the Godfather of Punk explained
Today, GRAMMY-nominated punk forbearer Iggy Pop revealed the details for his forthcoming 18th solo studio album, along with its short—at under two minutes—yet spacious title track, "Free." The 10-track LP is due out Sept. 6 and follow's 2016's GRAMMY-nominated Post Pop Depression.
"This is an album in which other artists speak for me, but I lend my voice," Pop explains in a press release.
The statement notes jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas and L.A.-based electric guitarist Noveller as the "principal players" collaborating with Pop on this exploratory new project. On "Free," Thomas' horn and Noveller's guitar add layers of depth, somberness and exploration, as Pop's echoing voice cuts through twice to proclaim, "I want to be free."
Pop adds that his last tour left him feeling exhausted but ready for change, and the shifts eventually led him to these new sounds:
"By the end of the tours following Post Pop Depression, I felt sure that I had rid myself of the problem of chronic insecurity that had dogged my life and career for too long. But I also felt drained. And I felt like I wanted to put on shades, turn my back, and walk away. I wanted to be free. I know that's an illusion, and that freedom is only something you feel, but I have lived my life thus far in the belief that that feeling is all that is worth pursuing; all that you need—not happiness or love necessarily, but the feeling of being free. So this album just kind of happened to me, and I let it happen."
Post Pop Depression earned the former Stooges frontman his second GRAMMY nod, at the 59th GRAMMY Awards for Best Alternative Music Album. It was produced by GRAMMY winner Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and as a tribute of sorts to David Bowie, Pop's longtime friend the producer of his first two solo albums, and was released shortly after Bowie's surprising passing.
As the press release states, "While it follows the highest charting album of Iggy's career, Free has virtually nothing in common sonically with its predecessor—or with any other Iggy Pop album."
ReImagined At Home: Watch Ant Clemons Croon The Cosmic Blues In Performance Of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine"
Singer/songwriter Ant Clemons puts his own spin on Bill Withers' immortal "Ain't No Sunshine" in an exclusive performance for ReImagined At Home.
Why has Bill Withers' immortal hit, "Ain't No Sunshine," endured for decades? And, furthermore, why does it seem set to reverberate throughout the ages?
Could it be because it's blues-based? Because it's relatable to anyone with a pulse? Because virtually anyone with an ounce of zeal can believably yowl the song at karaoke?
Maybe it's for all of those reasons and one more: "Ain't No Sunshine" is flexible.
In the latest episode of ReImagined At Home, check out how singer/songwriter Ant Clemons pulls at the song's edges like taffy. With a dose of vocoder and slapback, Clemons recasts the lonesome-lover blues as the lament of a shipwrecked android.
Giving this oft-covered soul classic a whirl, Clemons reminds music lovers exactly why Withers' signature song has staying power far beyond his passing in 2020. It will probably be a standard in 4040, too.
Check out Ant Clemons' cosmic, soulful performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" above and click here to enjoy more episodes of ReImagined At Home.
Fleetwood Mac in 1975
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Poll: From "Dreams" To "The Chain," Which Fleetwood Mac Song Is Your Favorite?
"Dreams" experienced a charming viral moment on TikTok after a man posted a video skateboarding to the classic track, and now it's back on the charts, 43 years later
In honor of Fleetwood Mac's ethereal '70s rock classic "Dreams," which recently returned to the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to a viral TikTok skateboard video from Nathan Apodaca, we want to know which of the legendary group's songs is your favorite!
Beyond their ubiquitous 1977 No. 1 hit "Dreams," there are so many other gems from the iconic GRAMMY-winning album Rumours, as well as across their entire catalog. There's the oft-covered sentimental ballad "Landslide" from their 1975 self-titled album, the jubilant, sparkling Tango in the Night cut "Everywhere" and Stevie Nicks' triumphant anthem for the people "Gypsy," from 1982's Mirage, among many others.
Vote below in our latest GRAMMY.com poll to let us know which you love most.