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One Direction's Solo Endeavors: Breaking Down Every Single, Album & Artistic Venture
With the arrival of Niall Horan's third solo album, 'The Show,' GRAMMY.com takes a deeper look into the solo careers of Horan and his One Direction bandmates, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik.
Looking at everything One Direction achieved in their time together, it's hard to believe that they were only active for six years. What's even harder to fathom is that they've now been on hiatus just as long — but luckily for fans, that time has proven fruitful for Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson.
Each member has released at least one studio album as a solo artist, and they have all dipped into several other ventures within fashion, producing, and mentoring rising stars. Horan is the latest to deliver more solo music, unveiling his third album, The Show, on June 9.
Through all those efforts, the quintet has kept One Direction's legacy not only alive, but thriving. While together, they were a pop phenomenon who sold an approximate 70 million records, but their solo careers have allowed them to showcase their true personalities. With that, lofty achievements came in tow — GRAMMY Awards, sold-out tours, and even more chart-topping hits — as well as the certainty that One Direction will never fully diminish (see Styles' roaring rendition of "What Makes You Beautiful" or Horan's sweet performance of "Story of My Life").
From Malik's introspective Mind of Mine to Horan's latest set, GRAMMY.com breaks down all of One Direction's solo endeavors.
Soon after his sudden departure from the group in 2015, Zayn Malik signed with RCA Records. His debut album, Mind of Mine, came out on March 25, 2016 — exactly one year after he left the band.
Mind of Mine sees Malik in a new musical direction, leaning into his R&B roots and soulful voice while also taking a more risqué approach in his songwriting. Despite the stark difference, the album topped several charts upon debut, including the U.S. and the U.K., even helping Malik become the first British male singer to top the Billboard 200 with his first album. (Lead single "Pillowtalk" also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking the first time a U.K. artist topped the chart with their first single.)
Malik quickly proved to be a sought-after collaborator, with Chris Brown, Snakehips and M.I.A. all recruiting him for singles in 2016. At the end of that year, he issued his biggest collab to date, "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" with Taylor Swift for the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. The song scored Malik his second massive hit on the Hot 100, peaking at No. 2.
As fans eagerly awaited his second album, Malik delivered two more major collabs, "Still Got Time" featuring PartyNextDoor and "Dusk Till Dawn" with Sia. After facing several delays, Icarus Falls arrived in December 2018. Comprising 27 songs across two disks, the album featured six singles ("Let Me," "Entertainer," "Sour Diesel," "Too Much" featuring Timbaland, "Fingers," "No Candle No Light" featuring Nicki Minaj), though none had the impact of "Pillowtalk."
After working on a few other collaborations — including a cover of "A Whole New World" with Zhavia Ward for 2019's Aladdin remake — Malik's third studio album, the utterly-personal Nobody Is Listening, came out in 2021. He teased the project through singles "Better" and "Vibez," and designed the album artwork himself. Later that year, he shared a now-deleted Dropbox link to Yellow Tape — a collection of three controversial hip-hop songs that showed another side of his musicality.
Malik has also been an influential name in fashion, modeling for brands like Versace and Penshoppe, and designing his own product lines for Giuseppe Zanotti and Versus (Versace). He also wrote an autobiography in 2016, Zayn.
Though he has been fairly quiet in 2022 and 2023, Malik has shared photos from the studio, and hopped on a posthumous remix of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel" last year. And while he's eight years removed from 1D, he hasn't completely forgotten his time in the band — even sharing an instantly viral clip of him singing his fan-favorite note from "You & I" in 2022.
Niall Horan signed with Capitol Records and released his first solo single, "This Town," in September 2016. Followed by "Slow Hands," and "Too Much to Ask," Horan released his debut LP, Flicker, in October 2017 — just as "Slow Hands" hit No. 1 on Billboard's Pop Airplay and Adult Pop Airplay charts. A mix of soft rock and straightforward pop, the album helped Horan become the third 1D member in a row to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart (after Malik and Styles, more on the latter later).
In support of the release, Horan embarked on two world tours: Flicker Sessions, which started in August 2017 and was held in smaller, intimate venues, and 2018's Flicker World Tour, which featured 82 shows across North and Latin America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia.
Horan's second studio album, Heartbreak Weather, led by single "Nice to Meet Ya," came out in March 2020 and topped the charts in the U.K. and Ireland, while reaching number four in the U.S. However, the COVID-19 pandemic stalled his ambitious touring plans, and he decided to use his downtime for collaboration. He teamed up with Anne-Marie for two singles, "Our Song" and a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere," and hopped on a version of Ashe's "Moral of the Story," But perhaps his most beloved collab is with his best friend Lewis Capaldi — a bromance that started with Horan's admiration for the singer and developed into live performances together, plenty of interactions on social media, and a Guinness-sponsored TV special, Homecoming: The Road to Mullingar, out in 2022.
In early 2023, Horan became a judge on NBC's "The Voice," and recently confirmed his return to the next season of the show this fall. Two weeks after wrapping his first "Voice" season, Horan released his third studio album, The Show, on June 9. A fruitful experimentation of folk melodies and modern synths, it showcases how much his songwriting has matured since Heartbreak Weather.
Horan will perform at festivals across Europe and Asia in 2023, including Lollapalooza Paris and Summer Sonic Tokyo. He'll kick off The Show: Live on Tour in his native Ireland in February 2024, and will hit cities in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America through July 2024.
Louis Tomlinson was the biggest contributor to One Direction's songwriting, with credits on over 30 songs in their discography. His passion for music production extended to an auxiliary participation on 2015's "The X Factor," which in 2018 turned into a fixed position as a judge and winning mentor on the fifteenth series of the show.
As for Tomlinson's own solo music, he made his debut with the Steve Aoki-assisted single "Just Hold On" in December of 2016. Before releasing his debut LP, Walls, in January of 2020, the singer focused on collaborations and singles. Through a pop-punk verve, Tomlinson began to establish his own post-1D style with singles like 2017's "Just Like You" and the minimalistic "Back To You" with Bebe Rexha — his biggest hit to date, with more than 1 billion combined streams on Spotify and YouTube. Some other singles, like the touching tribute to his late mother, "Two of Us," and the rock-edged "Kill My Mind," were included in Walls.
In 2021, he created and curated The Away From Home Festival, a one-day festival first held in London that year and followed by a 2022 edition in Malaga. In 2023, the event will return for its third run in August at Lido di Camaiore, Italy. Among the lineup are UK rising indie names like Blossoms and The Cribs.
Tomlinson's second album, Faith in The Future, was released at the end of 2022 and peaked at No. 1 in the U.K., marking his first top-charting album in the country as a soloist. Supported by singles "Bigger Than Me," "Out of My System," and "Silver Tongues," it furthered Tomlinson's explorations into indie rock and Britpop.
In March of 2023, Tomlinson released All Of Those Voices, a soul-baring documentary where he talked about his fears upon One Direction's hiatus, grief, fatherhood, and the struggles of fame. Currently, Tomlinson is on a World Tour through North America, U.K., and Europe.
After signing with Columbia Records, Harry Styles made his solo debut in April 2017 with the power ballad "Sign of the Times." One month later, his eponymous debut album came to life. A commercial and critical success, it topped charts in several countries upon release, including the U.S. and the U.K album tallies.
From the get-go, Styles' solo appeal was apparent. After immediately selling out his first run of solo shows that fall, he plotted a world tour playing arenas in 2018 — all of which sold out. That success translated to the release of his second album, 2019's Fine Line. The album's first-week sales were the biggest ever for a British male soloist since 1991, when Nielsen began tracking sales electronically.
While singles "Adore You" and "Falling" had solid traction, it was "Watermelon Sugar" that solidified his place as a solo superstar. Not only did the track earn Styles his first No. 1 hit on the Hot 100, but it also won the singer his first GRAMMY in 2021 (for Best Pop Solo Performance).
Then came the lauded Harry's House, the album that cemented Styles as a vanguard artist and performer. Lead single "As It Was" foreshadowed the gargantuan success that was to come, topping the Hot 100 for 15 weeks — the longest-running U.S. No. 1 by a U.K. artist. Harry's House debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and was the fourth best-selling album of 2022 with more than 2 million equivalent album units. The album also went on to win Best Pop Vocal Album and the coveted Album Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Styles's ongoing sold-out Love On Tour, which started in 2021 in support of both Fine Line and Harry's House, has also set unprecedented records. Last year, he held mini-residencies in both Los Angeles's Kia Forum and New York's Madison Square Garden, and became the third musical artist to earn a MSG banner after selling out 15 consecutive nights at the venue.
Styles has also made an impact through his daring fashion sense, modeling for brands like Gucci and becoming the first man to appear solo on the cover of Vogue in 2019. He has also ventured into acting, appearing in movies like 2017's Dunkirk and 2022's Don't Worry Darling and My Policeman.
Credited as one of One Direction's main songwriters, Liam Payne started to venture into his own musicality by remixing tracks back in 2014, under the aliases "Payno" and "Big Payno." He signed with Republic Records in October 2016, unveiling his debut solo single, "Strip That Down" (featuring Migos' Quavo) in May 2017. With lyrics that reinforced his new journey ("You know I used to be in 1D"), the track peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100 and spent two weeks atop Billboard's Pop Airplay chart.
Marked by collaborations with artists that range from Rita Ora ("For You", off of Fifty Shades Freed's soundtrack), to A Boogie wit da Hoodie ("Stack It Up"), to J Balvin ("Familiar"), Payne's solo career is one of 1D's most diverse, exploring genres that go from hip-hop to electronic music.
After a 2018 EP, First Time, Payne dropped his debut studio album, the long-awaited LP1, in December 2019. Including all of his previous singles, the record is a portrait of the singer's prolificness and versatility.
While he has been less active musically in recent years, Payne delivered another dance collab in 2020 ( "Midnight" with Alesso), a couple of Christmas tracks (including the Dixie D'Amelio team-up "Naughty List,"), and a song for the 2021 animated movie Ron's Gone Wrong, "Sunshine." Outside of music, Payne was also named the first global ambassador for fashion brand Hugo Boss, and designed two of their capsule collections. In a recent interview with iFL TV, Payne mentioned working on a new album for 2023.
It’s still unclear when the much-awaited One Direction reunion will happen, but the quintet's individual forays continue to bloom, and exciting opportunities lie ahead for each of the members. Through their diverse repertoire and newfound artistries — from Styles's buoyant strikes to Tomlinson's rock affinities — one thing is certain: the 1D members might follow multiple directions now, but they aren't stopping anytime soon.
Photo: JMEnternational/Getty Images
Harry Styles' Biggest Songs: 10 Tracks That Showcase The Versatility & Creativity That Have Made Him A Star
Since his solo debut in 2017, Harry Styles has become one of pop's biggest names by pushing the boundaries of the genre. Dig into 10 songs that showcase Styles' musical genius, from smash hits like "As It Was" to beloved deep cuts like "Fine Line."
Throughout his career, Harry Styles has proven that his music defies categorization. From his poppier days with One Direction to the more rock- and funk-inspired sounds of his solo music, every song and album have been a testament to his ongoing evolution as an artist.
His three solo albums thus far — 2017's Harry Styles, 2019's Fine Line, and 2022's Harry's House — have explored soft rock, psychedelic pop, and synth-pop. With such genre-fluid diversity in his discography, there's something for everyone to indulge in.
Styles' genre-blending techniques have undeniably made him a household name. The past two years solidified that, whether through his 169-show Love On Tour or his Album Of The Year win for Harry's House at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Though Styles has remained relatively quiet since the Love On Tour wrapped in July, he surely has fans anticipating his next move. For now, take a look at 10 Harry Styles tracks that illustrate the versatility and creativity that's helped him go from boy band member to solo sensation.
"Over Again," Take Me Home (2013)
A deep cut from One Direction's second album, Take Me Home, "Over Again" features an impressive solo from a then-19-year-old Styles. This song takes listeners on a nostalgic journey, looking back to the happier days of an ill-fated relationship, yearning for the ability to rewind time to a point before the love story unraveled.
Styles' emotionally charged vocal delivery accentuates and intensifies the profound sense of melancholy that is being relayed in the song. The depth in Styles' voice invites the audience to connect and empathize with the song's heartbroken narrative — a trait that still permeates in his solo ballads today.
"Clouds," FOUR (2014)
Styles highlights his vocal prowess in a different way on One Direction's youthful FOUR cut "Clouds." Not only did it feature extensive, powerful vocal runs, but it also showcased the rock sensibilities of his voice. "Clouds" diverted from 1D's traditional pop sound and ventured into a more guitar-driven style, incorporating rock elements and arguably foreshadowing the sounds of Styles' debut album released three years later.
"Sign of the Times," Harry Styles (2017)
Styles kicked off his solo journey in bold fashion: a nearly six-minute ballad. The cinematic, '70s rock-inspired "Sign of the Times" presented a stark departure from his previous work with One Direction, hinting that he was more than ready to evolve musically on his own.
The release of the song marked a turning point in Styles' career, enabling him to embrace a more mature sound and gain credibility as a solo artist. His continued exploration of genres is a trait that Styles has carried into his later projects, ultimately establishing his status as a genre-fluid artist.
"Kiwi," Harry Styles (2017)
One of Styles' boldest steps into the rock genre, "Kiwi" tells a story about a rebellious and free-spirited girl who captures Styles' attention, despite knowing she's no good for him. In this lively track, Styles trades polished pop for unfiltered rock vocals, showcasing an edgier side he hadn't displayed in his boy band days — both lyrically and sonically.
The song's dynamic energy is further amplified by the rich supply of classic rock-inspired guitar grooves. While Styles hasn't revisited the raw sound of "Kiwi" much since, it serves as a reminder that he can tackle any creative technique he desires.
"Watermelon Sugar," Fine Line (2019)
One could argue that "Watermelon Sugar" is a perfectly crafted pop song: refreshing guitar grooves, a lively instrumental, sultry harmonized vocals. In fact, it's so flawless, it earned Styles his first GRAMMY in 2021 for Best Pop Solo Performance.
That's just one way the Fine Line single marked a pivotal moment in Styles' career. It also became his first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, proving that he has staying power as a pop star in his own right. And as one of two songs with more than 2 billion Spotify streams alone, "Watermelon Sugar" has also proven to be a Harry Styles classic.
"Falling," Fine Line (2019)
One of Styles' most gut-wrenching tracks, "Falling" offers an introspective take on heartbreak. The haunting piano-driven melody emphasizes the pain in Styles' voice as he realizes his harmful habits caused him to lose a lover.
The song's emotional transparency and stripped-down vocals make it one of his most emotionally mature tracks, as well as one of his most captivating. While the track is Styles' lowest-charting single to date (it reached No. 62 on the Hot 100), "Falling" has proven itself to be a fan favorite, with more than 1 billion streams on Spotify.
"Fine Line," Fine Line (2019)
Despite being the title track, "Fine Line" isn't just a deep cut from Styles' acclaimed 2019 album, it's an outlier in his whole discography — but in a beautiful way. The song is largely instrumental, with a lonely, yet emotionally-charged energy that highlights Styles' stunning falsetto.
In an interview with Capital FM, Styles cited a connection between the song's lyrics and his feelings throughout the album-making process; with the closing lyrics echoing, "We'll be alright," the song sheds light on the apprehension that often accompanies embarking on a new creative journey. The message foreshadowed Styles' subsequent ventures after the record's release, including a step into acting and the exploration of a new sound in Harry's House.
"As It Was," Harry's House (2022)
The lead single for Harry's House, "As It Was" served as Styles' first plunge into the synth-pop genre, which carried throughout the project. Despite the track's buoyant melody, its true essence conveys a more gloomy narrative. Styles explores the idea that nothing remains the same once being put into the limelight — a poignant message from one of pop's biggest stars.
Along with introducing a new sound for Styles, the brilliantly juxtaposing track also cemented him as a bonafide superstar. After "As It Was" debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in April 2022, it reigned for 15 weeks, marking the most for a British artist in the chart's history. It was also a chart titan in Styles' home country, becoming the longest-running No. 1 and best-selling single of 2022 on the UK Singles Chart. What's more, it helped Styles earn his first Record Of The Year GRAMMY nomination, and undoubtedly contributed to his Album Of The Year win at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
"Late Night Talking," Harry's House (2022)
Taking the synth-pop of "As It Was" into the '80s, "Late Night Talking" blends retro-inspired vocal distortions and groovy instrumentation. Yet, somehow, it has a timeless groove that still feels contemporary — a skill that has become a Styles trademark.
The single had big shoes to fill as it followed the smash hit "As It Was" but it fiercely proved that Styles' had room for multiple hit songs under his belt. "Late Night Talking" landed the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Pop Airplay Chart and No. 3 on the Hot 100 Chart.
"Matilda," Harry's House (2022)
One of Harry's House's few somber tracks, "Matilda" instantly became another fan favorite in his catalog. As he gently sings over plucked guitar instrumentals, he comforts someone who feels out of place within their family at home ("You don't have to be sorry for leavin' and growin' up," he sings in the chorus).
While Styles has delivered plenty of tender moments, the storytelling and emotion of "Matilda" arguably helps it stand as his most thoughtful composition to date. Although it remains as an album cut, "Matilda" is further proof that Styles' has mastered the skill of making music that resonates with listeners — whether he's compelling them to shed tears or dance along.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Watch: Harry Styles Releases New Video For "Daylight" From 'Harry's House'
"Daylight" is the latest track on Harry Styles' 'Harry's House' to receive the video treatment. The clip finds the three-time GRAMMY winner sauntering around a traveling carnival.
On July 19, the three-time GRAMMY winner — including Album Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs, for his blockbuster third album, Harry's House — unveiled a full-fledged music video for "Daylight."
In the clip, Styles strolls around a traveling carnival — a complex of cherry-red structures — and interacts with its quirky denizens. Midway through, he even takes flight on black and yellow wings, and eventually finds himself astride a horse. At video’s end, Styles walks a tightrope against an azure sky.
This is the fifth video from Harry's House, following "As It Was," "Late Night Talking," "Music For a Sushi Restaurant," and "Satellite."
The “Daylight” video arrives just three days before Styles’ final show of his long-running Love On Tour. He’ll close out the nearly two-year trek — which included 15 sold-out nights at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden — in Reggio Emilia, Italy on July 22.
Along with touring, Styles has co-starred in the psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling and romantic drama My Policeman since the release of Harry's House. He also expanded on his fashion ventures, co-releasing a Gucci collection with fashion designer Alessandro Michele in Nov. 2022.
Check out the new video for "Daylight" below and keep checking GRAMMY.com for Harry Styles news!
Photos courtesy of the GRAMMY Museum
GRAMMY Museum Opens Online Auction Featuring Artist-Signed Items From The 2023 GRAMMYs: Harry Styles, Miley Cyrus, Bad Bunny, Sheryl Crow, Dr. Dre, Lizzo & Many More Exclusive Items
Also offering guitars and items signed by 21 Savage, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Jonas Brothers, Shawn Mendes, Kacey Musgraves, Kim Petras, and others, the GRAMMY Museum's online auction via Charitybuzz is live now and will run through Thursday, April 13.
The 2023 GRAMMYs may have come and gone — but you can now take home a one-of-a-kind piece of Music's Biggest Night for a good case!
This GRAMMY Museum's new online auction via Charitybuzz features items signed by artists, including guitars signed backstage at the 2023 GRAMMYs by Bad Bunny, Sheryl Crow, Dr. Dre, Mick Fleetwood, Lizzo, Bonnie Raitt, Smokey Robinson, and Harry Styles.
Plus, the auction contains more guitars and items signed by 21 Savage, Joe Bonamassa, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Miley Cyrus, Luis Fonsi, Jonas Brothers, Steve Lacy, LL Cool J, Shawn Mendes, Miguel, Kacey Musgraves, Kim Petras, Lionel Richie, Nile Rodgers, Slash, Sam Smith, Chris Stapleton, Susan Tedeschi, and Meghan Trainor.
The GRAMMY Museum's online auction via Charitybuzz is live now and will run through Thursday, April 13.
Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
10 College Courses Dedicated To Pop Stars And Music: Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny & Hip-Hop
In honor of Music in Our Schools Month, check out nine college-level music courses that dissect punk and EDM, global hip-hop culture and the discographies and careers of superstar acts like the Beatles and Harry Styles.
There’s never been a better time to be a music-loving college student.
Beginning in the mid to late aughts, an increasing number of academic institutions have begun offering courses dedicated to major music acts. In the late aughts, rap maverick Jay-Z made headlines after becoming the subject of a Georgetown University course taught by Michael Eric Dyson, a sociologist and best-selling author of Jay-Z: Made in America. In the Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z, students analyzed Hova's life, socio-cultural significance and body of work.
It's easy to see why students would be attracted to these courses — which fill up quickly and are often one-time-only offerings. The intertwining of celebrity and sociology present such fertile grounds to explore, and often make for buzzy social media posts that can be a boon to enrollment numbers. For instance, Beyhivers attending the University of Texas at San Antonio were offered the opportunity to study the Black feminism foundations of Beyoncé's Lemonade in 2016. Meanwhile, Rutgers offered a course dedicated to dissecting the spiritual themes and imagery in Bruce Springsteen's catalog.
Luckily for students clamoring to get a seat in these highly sought-after courses, institutions across the country are constantly launching new seminars and classes about famous pop stars and beloved musical genres. From Bad Bunny to Harry Styles, the following list of popular music courses features a little something for every college-going music fan.
Bad Bunny's Impact On Media
From his chart-topping hits to his advocacy work, Bad Bunny has made waves on and off stage since rising to fame in 2016. Now graduate students at San Diego State University can explore the global superstar's cultural impact in an upcoming 2023 course.
"He speaks out about Puerto Rico; he speaks out about the Uvalde shooting victims and uses his platform to raise money and help them," said Dr. Nate Rodriguez, SDSU Associate Professor of Digital Media Studies. "How does he speak out against transphobia? Support the LGBTQ community? How does all of that happen? So yes, it’s very much relevant to journalism and media studies and cultural studies. It’s all of that mixed into one."
A Deep Dive Into Taylor Swift's Lyrics
Analyzing Taylor Swift's lyrics is a favorite pastime among Swifties, so it's fitting that her work and its feminist themes have been the focus of a string of university courses over the years.
In spring 2022, the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University launched an offering focused on the "Anti-Hero" singer's evolution as an entrepreneur, race and female adolescence. The waitlisted course — the first-ever for the institution — drew loads of media attention and Swift received an honorary degree from NYU in 2022.
In spring 2023, honors students at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas can analyze the 12-time GRAMMY winner's music and career in a seminar titled Culture and Society- Taylor Swift.
Kendrick Lamar's Storytelling & The Power Of Hip-Hop
Since dropping good kid, m.A.A.d. City in 2012, Kendrick Lamar has inspired a slew of academics to develop classes and seminars around his lyrical content and storytelling, including an English class that juxtaposed his work with that of James Baldwin and James Joyce.
More recently, Concordia University announced that the 16-time GRAMMY winner will be the focus of The Power of Hip Hop, It’s Bigger Than Us, a course examining the lyrical themes of Lamar’s works, such as loyalty, fatherhood, class and racial injustice.
"No artist speaks to this ethos louder and more intricately than King Kunta, the prince of Compton, Kendrick Lamar, 10 years after good kid, m.A.A.d. City dropped," said Yassin "Narcy" Alsalman, the Montreal hip-hop artist and Concordia Professor who developed the class which launches in winter 2023. “He showed us it was okay to work on yourself in front of the world and find yourself internally, that family always comes first, that community and collective missions are central to growth and that sometimes, you have to break free."
EDM Production, Techniques, and Applications
If you dream of hearing your own EDM tracks played at a massive music festival à la Marshmello, Steve Aoki and Skrillex, this all-in-one course at Boston's Berklee College of Music has you covered. Learn about the cultural origins of the various EDM styles — like techno, trance, drum and bass and more — and the techniques that artists use to achieve these sounds.
In between thought-provoking cultural seminars, students will receive lessons on how to operate the technologies necessary to create their own EDM masterpieces, including synths, digital audio workstations (DAW) and samplers.
Harry Styles And The Cult Of Celebrity
While many celebrity-focused courses center around sociology, the Harry’s House singer/songwriter has inspired his own digital history course at Texas State University in San Marcos: Harry Styles and the Cult of Celebrity: Identity, the Internet and European Pop Culture.
Developed by Dr. Louie Dean Valencia during lockdown, the class will cover Styles’ music along with topics like gender, sexual identity and class — but the singer-songwriter’s personal life is off limits. Stylers who are lucky enough to grab a spot in this first-ever university course dedicated to their fave can expect to revisit One Direction’s catalog for homework.
"I’ve always wanted to teach a history class that is both fun, but also covers a period that students have lived through and relate to," Dr. Valencia wrote in a Twitter post. "By studying the art, activism, consumerism and fandom around Harry Styles, I think we’ll be able to get to some very relevant contemporary issues. I think it’s so important for young people to see what is important to them reflected in their curriculum."
Global Hip Hop Culture(s): Hip Hop, Race, and Social Justice from South Central to South Africa
Since its inception, hip-hop has left a lasting mark on the world, influencing language, fashion, storytelling and beyond. At the University of California Los Angeles, students can learn about how the art form has shaped young minds as they analyze the various hip-hop scenes worldwide.
As part of a mission to establish the university as a leading center for hip-hop studies, UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies launched a hip-hop initiative featuring an artist-in-residence program, digital archives, and a series of postdoctoral fellowships. Chuck D, the founder of the barrier-breaking hip-hop group Public Enemy, was selected as the first artist-in-residence.
"As we celebrate 50 years of hip-hop music and cultural history, the rigorous study of the culture offers us a wealth of intellectual insight into the massive social and political impact of Black music, Black history and Black people on global culture — from language, dance, visual art and fashion to electoral politics, political activism and more," said associate director H. Samy Alim, who is leading the initiative.
The Music Of The Beatles
With their catchy two-minute pop hits, artsy record covers, headline-making fashions and groundbreaking use of studio tech, the Fab Five are among the most influential acts in music history. It’s no surprise, then, that they are the subjects of courses in a number of colleges and universities.
Boston’s Berklee College of Music offers The Music of Beatles, which digs into the group’s body of work as well as the music they penned for other acts. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in their post-breakup works, The Solo Careers of the Beatles dives into those efforts. Meanwhile, the University of Southern California takes a look at their music, careers and impact in The Beatles: Their Music and Their Times.
Symbolic Sisters: Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu
Whether you want to learn about craft, management, building a career, or marketing your work, the Clive Davis Institute at NYU offers an impressive curriculum for musicians and artists. With seminars focusing on the works of Prince, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and J. Dilla, a unique duo stands out: Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse.
Framing the pair as "symbolic sisters," this two-credit seminar explores and compares how each songstress fused different genres and styles to forge a magnetic sound of their own. Winehouse rose to prominence for her retro spin on the sounds of Motown and Phil Spector and rebellious styling. A decade before "Back to Black" singer hit the mainstream, Badu — who is recognized as one of Winehouse's influences — rose to stardom thanks to her seamless blend of jazz, R&B, and hip-hop and captivating urban-bohemian style, creating a template for singers like SZA and Ari Lennox.
Selena: Music, Media and the Mexican American Experience
From ascending to the top of the male-dominated Tejano genre to helping introduce Latin music to the mainstream, Selena Quintanilla's impact continues to be felt decades after her untimely death. Artists including Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Victoria "La Mala" Ortiz, Becky G and Beyoncé cite the GRAMMY-winning "Queen of Tejano" as an influence.
Throughout the years, her legacy and cultural impact have been the focus of dozens of college courses. In 2023, Duke University continues this tradition with Selena: Music, Media and the Mexican American Experience. The course will explore the life, career and cultural impact of the beloved Tejano singer.
The Art of Punk: Sound, Aesthetics and Performance
Since emerging in the 1970s, punk rock has been viewed as a divisive, politically charged music genre. Its unique visual style — which can include leather jackets, tattoos, chunky boots and colorful hair — was absorbed into the mainstream in the '90s, where it continues to thrive (to the chagrin of hardcore punks everywhere). Over the decades, dozens of subgenres have cropped up and taken the spotlight — including riot grrrl and pop-punk — but very few have left the impact of the classic punk sound from the '70s and its anti-establishment themes.
If you're interested in learning more about the genre that inspired bands like Nirvana, check out Stanford University's The Art of Punk seminar, which explores the genre's visual and sonic origins, as well as its evolution and connections to race, class, and gender.