meta-scriptZayn's 'Room Under The Stairs': Everything We Know About Release Date, Cover Art & An Unexpected Country Influence |
Zayn Malik
Zayn attends the Valentino runway show in Paris on January 20, 2024.

Photo: Marc Piasecki/WireImage


Zayn's 'Room Under The Stairs': Everything We Know About Release Date, Cover Art & An Unexpected Country Influence

On May 17, One Direction alum Zayn Malik will release a new album following a three year intermission. Here's all the details could find, from his latest single to the cover art and country twang.

GRAMMYs/Mar 14, 2024 - 03:27 pm

Editor's Note: This article was updated on May 15, 2024 with details about Zayn's album process and release show.

After a three-year interlude, Zayn is back with his fourth solo venture. His highly anticipated LP, Room Under The Stairs, will drop May 17.  

His latest opus follows the 2021 release of Nobody is Listening, and promises to be a sonic oasis to fans parched for his next drop.

After wiping the slate clean on his Instagram, the "Pillowtalk'' star shared a window into his new era on March 6. A sneak-peek video laced with Zayn's own narrative prepares listeners for an album that promises to be an introspective, pared-back and profoundly personal portrait. 

"There's just me writing this," he said in the post. "I didn't want anyone else to be in between me and the music, and the music and the people listening to it."  

Dropping a trail of musical breadcrumbs, Zayn divulged snippets, artwork, and release dates culminating in the reveal of the name, cover, and drop date for the full LP.

Read on for everything has unboxed about Zayn's artistic resurgence.

It's His Most Intimate Album To Date

Zayn's new work promises to be an auditory memoir and a portal to a new era for the artist. On March 6, Zayn prefaced the album's unveiling, shedding light on the upcoming direction in an Instagram post.

In a visual collage overlaid with candid commentary, Zayn confides, "I think the intention behind this album fully is for the listener to get more insight on me personally as a human being… my ambitions, my fears, and for them to have a connection with that and that's why it's so raw. It's just me."

It's A Fresh Start With Mercury Records

Transitioning from RCA to Mercury Records last summer, Zayn dropped his first single under the new label "Love Like This" in July 2023. Ever since, fans have been looking forward to the full experience. Room Under The Stairs will mark the grand unveiling of this new alliance. 

It Took Six Years To Get It Right

Though Zayn released albums in 2018 (Icarus Falls) and 2021 (Nobody Is Listening), the singer has hinted that he has slowly been chipping away at Room Under the Stairs in that time. "I wasn’t sitting on it for six years," Zayn explained to Kelly Clarkson on her talk show, "It took six years to make the record." He went on to detail the piecemeal way the songs fell together in the studio: "I was living, something would happen, and it would give me inspiration."   

The First Two Singles Are Out Now

Two days after announcing the album, Zayn debuted the first single, "What I Am," on March 15. On the acoustic, folk-leaning track, the singer/songwriter delivers a harmonious blend of raw emotion and introspective, soul-searching lyrics as he wonders, "Am I crazy?/ Am I foolish?/ Am I stupid for playing these games with you?/ If I told you I loved you would you say that it's f—ed up?" 

On April 11, Zayn debuted the second single, "Alienated," with a live performance video. Before releasing the reflective song, he revealed in an Instagram video that he wrote "Alienated" back in 2018, which eventually led it to being the first track written for Room Under the Stairs. "That kind of helped me mold and shape the sound even for, like, the way I wanted to approach the sound of my own voice and sonic sound of everything else, like the guitars," he shared. "I don’t even know what to call it genre-wise… I think it’s like, my version of, like, blues."

The Cover Art Reflects Renewal

The cover art for Room Under The Stairs serves as a visual metaphor for a new beginning for Zayn, featuring a silhouette of the singer/songwriter superimposed on a simplified concept illustration of a room under a staircase. 

The use of the blueprint drawing conveys the idea of life under construction, paralleling Zayn's deliberate crafting of new musical narratives. The contrast between the silhouette underscores the album's exploration of intimate aspects of the artist's mind and the conception of fresh beginnings.

There's An Unexpected Country Influence

Zayn co-produced the album with famed Nashville producer Dave Cobb. A nine-time GRAMMY winner, Cobb has worked with rock legends and country greats alike, including Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Stapleton and others.   

“What got me about Zayn was his voice, you can hear love, loss, pain, triumph and humanity in it. I feel as if this record is removing the glass from his spirit directly to his fans,” Cobb told Rolling Stone. “Zayn has really created his own universe on this record, he really has no fear and is speaking straight from his soul.”

He'll Celebrate The Album With A Special Release Show (And Documentary!)

Hours after Room Under the Stairs arrives on May 17, Zayn will play six songs from the album live at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. Along with celebrating the album, it celebrates Zayn's return to the stage, as it will be his biggest solo show to date.

The night will be even more special because the performance will follow the premiere of Zayn's 'Road Back To The Mic' documentary, which documents his journey to the momentous show. "It's going to be a lead up and an explanation… of exactly why it's been this long that I haven't performed — the story behind me getting back to the mic, basically, and getting back into a place of wanting to perform," Zayn recently explained to Talk Shop Live. "There's some real cool stuff in there."

15 Must-Hear Albums In May 2024: Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Sia, Zayn & More

One Direction performing on SNL in 2014
One Direction performs on 'Saturday Night Live' in 2014.

Photo: Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images


One Direction's Solo Endeavors: Breaking Down Every Single, Album & Artistic Venture

As Zayn Malik releases his fourth solo album, 'ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS,' takes a deeper look into the solo careers of Malik and his One Direction bandmates, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson.

GRAMMYs/Jun 13, 2023 - 04:39 pm

Editor's Note: This article was updated on May 17, 2024 with information about Zayn Malik's album ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS and other releases/significant moments since the original publish date.

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 for nearly a decade — 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. Malik is the latest to deliver more solo music, unveiling his fourth album, Room Under the Stairs, on May 17.

Through all of 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, monumental 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 Styles' eponymous debut LP to Malik's latest set, breaks down all of One Direction's solo endeavors to date.

Zayn Malik

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 saw 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 was inspired by the Greek myth, and expands Malik's usual R&B to loftier, edgier pop moments, like singles "Let Me Be" and "No Candle No Light" with Nicki Minaj.

Malik released his third studio album, the vulnerable Nobody Is Listening, in 2021. Described as his "most personal project to date" in a statement, the record is a stripped-down, quiet statement on Malik's growing talents. Later that year, he shared a since-deleted Dropbox link to Yellow Tape — a collection of three controversial hip-hop songs that showed another side of his musicality.

Though he has been fairly quiet in the past three years, Malik made waves in both 2022 and 2023 for very different reasons. In 2022, he paid tribute to his time in 1D with an instantly viral clip of him singing his fan-favorite note from "You & I"; last year, he hopped on a posthumous remix of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel." 

In March 2024, Malik finally announced his much-anticipated fourth LP, ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS, which dropped May 17. Co-produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Bruce Springsteen), the record sees Malik taking yet another musical turn and diving into country-leaning, bluesier sounds, as can be seen in singles "What I Am" and "Alienated." Malik explained in a teaser video that his intention for the 15-track album is for the listener to "get more insight on me personally as a human being."

Niall Horan

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 No. 4 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.

Horan's third studio album, The Show, came out on June 9, 2023, just after he wrapped up his first (and winning) season as a coach on NBC's "The Voice." A fruitful experimentation of folk melodies and modern synths, The Show displays how much his songwriting has matured since Heartbreak Weather, and the result resonated with fans and critics alike; The Show debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's 200 chart.

In the following months, Horan performed at a slew of festivals across Europe and Asia — and won his second season of "The Voice" — as he prepared for the biggest tour in his solo career so far. The Show: Live on Tour kicked off in his native Ireland in February 2024, and hit cities across the U.K., Europe, Asia and Oceania. The tour will keep Horan busy through October 9, making stops in North and South America as well as a brief return to Dublin and the U.K.

Louis Tomlinson

Louis Tomlinson was the biggest contributor to One Direction's songwriting, with credits on nearly 40 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 on Walls.

In 2021, he created and curated The Away From Home Festival, a one-day fest first held in London that year, followed by a 2022 edition in Malaga and a 2023 edition in Italy. In 2024, the event will return for its fourth run in June at Mérida, Mexico. Among the lineup are rising names like Kevin Kaarl, DMA's, and Dylan, in addition to Tomlinson's own set.

Faith in The Future, Tomlinson's second album, was released at the end of 2022 and reached 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 2023, he also 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. 

Tomlinson has been making stops around the globe on his Faith in the Future World Tour, which started off in North America in May 2023 and hit Europe, and the U.K. last year. He picked things up again in January 2024, first stopping through Indonesia and Australia; Tomlinson's last leg sees him performing in South America and Mexico, starting in Panama May 2 and concluding in Guadalajara, Mexico on  June 6.

Just before his final tour stretch, Tomlinson surprise-released a live album, simply titled Live, in April 2024, featuring 15 songs from 15 different shows over the past three years. Each track was recorded in a distinct city, including "The Greatest" in London, "Fearless" in Rio de Janeiro, and "Chicago" in Chicago.

Harry Styles

After signing with Columbia Records in 2016, Harry Styles made his solo debut in April 2017 with the power ballad "Sign of the Times." Just 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 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 one of the best-selling albums 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' sold-out Love On Tour, which lasted from September 2021 to July 2023, has also set unprecedented records. Through 169 shows across North and South America, the U.K., Europe, Asia, and Oceania, Love On Tour concluded as one of the best-selling tours of all time, grossing $617.3 million and selling more than 5 million tickets, according to Billboard's Boxscore. These numbers also outdo One Direction's entire career gross of $583.4 million over four tours from 2012 to 2015, leading Styles to a new level of superstardom.

Along with his impressive music career, Styles has made an impact through his daring fashion sense in recent years. He's modeled for brands like Gucci, and became the first man to appear solo on the cover of Vogue in 2019. The singer has also ventured into acting, appearing in movies like 2017's Dunkirk and 2022's Don't Worry Darling and My Policeman.

Back in March, Styles teased new music during his New Zealand concert. "We're almost at the end of the fruit bowl," he said, nodding to the many fruit references in his discography ("Watermelon Sugar," "Kiwi," "Grapejuice"). "Come album four, who knows? No citrus is safe."

Liam Payne

Like Tomlinson, Liam Payne co-wrote over 30 songs for One Direction; he also started to venture into his own musicality with a few remixes of 1D tracks in 2014 and 2015, 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.

Payne's solo career has arguably been the most diverse of any One Direction member, as he's explored pop, hip-hop, Latin, and electronic music. Along with collaborating with the likes of Rita Ora ("For You", off of Fifty Shades Freed's soundtrack), A Boogie wit da Hoodie ("Stack It Up"), and J Balvin ("Familiar"), he proved to be dexterous on his own as well, bending his voice from high falsettos ("Bedroom Floor") to charming croons ("Home With You").

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 frames Payne as a jack of all trades, able to move from trap and hip hop ("Weekend") to Timberlake-inspired pop ("Strip That Down") and even to a Christmas song ("All I Want (For Christmas)").

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.

After mentions of working on a new album last year, Payne shared the single "Teardrops" in March 2024. Co-written with One Direction collaborator Jamie Scott and JC Chasez of *NSYNC, the track leans into early '00s pop and tackles the pain of a heartbreak. The release comes after a turbulent phase for the singer, who opened up on YouTube about his rehab stretch and controversial comments on his former bandmates. In a statement, Payne said that "Teardrops" "marks the start of a new beginning," and that "there's lots more to come in 2024."

Whether or not a One Direction reunion ever happens, 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, one thing is certain: the 1D members might follow multiple directions now, but they aren't stopping anytime soon. 

Harry Styles' Sonic Evolution: How He Grew From Teen Pop Idol To Ever-Evolving Superstar

Photo of Harry Styles
Harry Styles

Photo: Lillie Eiger


5 Takeaways From Harry Styles' New Album 'Harry's House'

Harry Styles' third album, 'Harry's House,' is further proof that he's found his lane since going solo — and that he's not an artist you can box.

GRAMMYs/May 19, 2022 - 03:22 pm

At this point, Harry Styles has made it very clear that he's come into his own as an artist. In the six years since One Direction's hiatus, he's worn a dress on the cover of a magazine, he's starred in major motion pictures, and he's headlined Madison Square Garden (multiple times). But he may have just delivered his biggest artist statement yet.

Styles' third album, Harry's House, is his most sonically diverse set, bringing fans deeper into his musical universe with entrancing production and liberated vocals. Sure, his 2017 self-titled debut and 2019's blockbuster Fine Line were a solid introduction to what he's capable of, but with Harry's House, he's seemingly never felt more free.

"My favorite thing about it is, it just feels the most like me," Styles told Apple Music's Zane Lowe. As Lowe himself asserted, "the Harry who sits before us all is not the same. You can hear it in the brand new album, Harry's House — the growth; it's a triumph."

Whatever you want to call it, Harry's House is a sign that Styles himself believes he has arrived. And — if you haven't already — he's ready for you to move in.

Below, here's five takeaways from Harry Styles' Harry's House.

He Has Skeletons Left In The Closet

As anyone familiar with Styles' dating life may imagine, several songs on Harry's House tease that he is in love. Within the first minute of the album's first track, "Music For a Sushi Restaurant," he proclaims, "It's cause I love you babe/ In every kind of way"; in the first verse of "Grapejuice," he declares, "There's never been someone who's so perfect for me."

Yet, there's a looming sense of remorse across a majority of the album's 13 tracks. "I hope you're missing me by now," he sings in bouncy cut "Daylight," while the swirling "Satellite" opens with "You got a new life/ Am I bothering you?/ Do you wanna talk?"

Ironically, the track titled "Little Freak" is perhaps the most wistful on the entire LP. The whole song feels like a letter to a past lover, mostly reminiscent of their time together — until the bridge, where he owns up to his mistakes. "I disrespected you/ Jumped in feet first and I landed too hard," he sings. "A broken ankle/ Karma rules."

Styles may not give obvious context clues in any of these songs, but one thing is apparent: No matter where he stands in his love life now, he's clearly had some things to get off his chest.

He's Still On Team Women

Styles has always been vocal about his support for women, from calling young girls "our future" to wearing a shirt that reads "women are smarter." Thanks to Harry's House, he now has a song to show for it, too. 

The somber ballad "Boyfriends" recognizes the faults of men in relationships, from taking their partner for granted to playing games. While Styles acknowledges that women may not always punish men for their wrongdoings ("You love a fool who knows just how to get under your skin/ You, you, you still open the door," he sings in the second verse), he made the song's main subject very clear upon debuting it at Coachella: "To boyfriends everywhere, f*** you."

Elsewhere, he shows empathy for a character from a troubled household on the poignant "Matilda" ("You can throw a party full of everyone you know/ And not invite your family/ Cause they never showed you love," he sings on the chorus). It may not be as direct of a feminist message, but further proves that he'll stand up for anyone mistreated.

"As It Was" Is The Most Radio-Ready Track

After Fine Line produced the funk-inspired jam "Adore You" and the catchy-as-ever GRAMMY winner "Watermelon Sugar," the stakes were high for his Harry's House lead single. And boy did he deliver: Not only is "As It Was" a synth-pop bop, but it broke records on Spotify and Apple Music and subsequently hit No. 1 in several countries upon its release.

Those looking for more "As It Was" types may be surprised upon diving into Harry's House, as the song is about as pop-leaning as the album gets. Though that's not to say that Harry's House won't spawn any more hits. 

There's still plenty of infectious melodies on the album, particularly on "Late Night Talking," "Cinema," "Daydreaming," and "Daylight." Between disco grooves, roaring horns and '80s-style synths, most of the Harry's House tracks don't have the traditional formula of a commercial pop success — but with that, Styles may just reinvent what "radio hit" means in 2022. 

It's His Most Genre-Bending LP Yet

While Styles' first two albums called back to the '70s and '80s pop/rock artists that have inspired him from the start — like David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac — the influences of Harry's House are a little tougher to pinpoint. Perhaps that's because, as he explained to Better Homes & Gardens, he didn't seek inspiration in any music at all.

As a result, Harry's House is quite the sonic evolution from his first two sets — and a funky one at that. There's so many layers of sounds across its 13 tracks that it feels as experimental as a Prince record, with touches of alt-pop, soul, new wave and folk. Every song features a synth (with the exception of the acoustic "Boyfriends"), each taking listeners on a new journey — from the burning bass of opener "Music For a Sushi Restaurant" to the subdued electronica of closer "Love of My Life."

Harry Is Simply Having Fun

If you've seen Styles in concert, you know that he is definitely doing what he loves. His performances are as electric as they come, bouncing around with a Jagger-esque swagger and a childlike spirit. And that was before he had this album.

Harry's House is a sonic manifestation of the energy he's brought to the stage, with one undertone across the entire project: fun.

Even in its more reflective moments, the album brings Styles more liberation than agony. Whether it's the in-your-face instrumentation, scintillating production or Styles' variations of falsetto, Harry's House feels like a giant party — one that the singer can't wait to throw over and over again.

GRAMMY Rewind: Harry Styles Wins His First GRAMMY, Takes Home Best Pop Solo Performance For "Watermelon Sugar"

Harry Styles

Harry Styles

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'

GRAMMYs/Mar 12, 2021 - 06:52 am

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.

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

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.

Read: How To Watch The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show: A Viewer's Guide On Where To Watch Music's Biggest Night

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.

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

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.

Related: 2021 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Nominees List

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.

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

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.

Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominees: BTS Talk Excitement For 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show & Representing Koreans & K-Pop On The Global Stage



Photo: Andrew Lee


Up Close & Personal: SHAED Talk New Music, Allyship & Collabs With ZAYN, Sting & Steve Aoki

The "Melt" band reveal how fun it was working with Sting and Steve Aoki on the dance producer's 2019's track "2 In A Million"

GRAMMYs/Sep 22, 2020 - 11:27 pm

Alt-pop trio SHAED consisting of twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernst and Chelsea Lee (who is married to Spencer), had their big break in summer 2018 with their infectious hit "Trampoline." It was followed by a whirlwind 2019, where they played major festivals and shows around the world and dropped some big collabs, including a ZAYN remix of "Trampoline," whose vocals brought new life—and his massive fan base—to it.

Like so many other artists, COVID-19 put a sudden halt on their packed, globe-trotting schedule. The pause and new perspective have proven productive for them, and resulted in a lot of new, yet-to-be-released music.

"We had a group of songs before this whole quarantine situation and we kind of took a deep listen and realized that we wanted to change it up a bit," Chelsea told us. "Most of the songs we've written for this album, we wrote during these crazy months, so it definitely reflects, emotionally and mentally, what we were feeling. These songs really hit home for us and we're super excited to release them."

Read: Aminé Talks New Album 'Limbo,' Portland Protests And Black Lives Matter

We catch up with the Washington D.C.-based group for the latest episode of Up Close & Personal interview video series to learn what they've been up to during quarantine—in addition to creating a new album, they've also protesting with local Black Lives Matter marches and been relaxing in their backyard.

Sharing what he learned about being an ally to the Black community, Max said, "I think it's important to listen. There's all these kind of sub-movements within the Black Lives Matter movement that are really important. Black Trans lives Matter, is super important… I think it's important that all these communities within Black Lives Matter, their voices are being elevated."

The "Melt" band also reveal how fun it was like working with Sting and Steve Aoki on the dance producer's 2019's track "2 In A Million." Watch the full conversation above!

"Chelsea loves Sting," Spencer said, smiling. "Steve Aoki is a fan of ours, and he reached out and said he'd love for us to feature on a song. So we were listening to some demos and trying to figure out which one made sense. And then he said, 'Hey, actually hold on, I got a song with Sting.' And that's when Chelsea was like 'We're doing this right away!'"

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Remembered By Barack Obama, Janet Mock, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John & More