There was a period of time between 2012 and 2015 when Harry Styles was this beautiful bastion of undeniable charisma.
One Direction, or Simon Cowell, at least, liked to say that there was no such thing as a “lead singer” of the band. Everyone played their part. But the media, and probably most teenage girls, were smarter than that. We all knew, deep down, that Harry Styles was the face of the band, the boy with the dimpled cheeks, the curly hair, the bright, green eyes, the baritone voice. It wasn’t that he he demarcated the tabloids, or that he was Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, but really, truly, it was that this particular boy was probably the most charming thing that had happened to pop culture in a long while.
Harry Styles, simply, for a lack of a better word, had a lot of style. He knew what to say and said it well. He was so eloquent and always remembered that he was part of a five-man show rather than an one-man show, no matter what the interviewers wanted him to think or say. He was funny and witty and polite and got along with babies and kittens. He knew how to dress himself and sat in the front row at cosmopolitan fashion weeks. He hung out with the cool crowd–British socialites, it-girls, Nick Grimshaw–who made the magazines look pretty and hip.
Harry Styles took a life of his own outside of One Direction. Not to say that the other boys didn’t, but Harry Styles was not “Harry of One Direction,” but really, he was Harry Styles. Harry Styles, which Rolling Stones, in 2014, declared the “Boy of the Year of the Girl.” Harry Styles was an entity of his own–not Harry, Louis, Niall, Liam, and Zayn, but Harry Styles, who had a space, an article, all to himself.
With all that charisma to burn, there’s bound to be a lot of intrigue. Taylor Swift’s critically acclaimed, blockbuster hit album from 2014, 1989, is allegedly pretty much all about her potentially fake, but also potentially real relationship with Styles. And who wouldn’t want to speculate? Swift certainly wants you to, as she even went out of her way to name a song “Style”–a wink if there ever was one.
As 1989 immortalized Styles, or at least, the “Haylor” relationship circa a few months in 2012, 2015 was a surprisingly low key year for Styles. Zayn Malik left the band mid-tour, and One Direction released what was probably their last album before they go on their infinite hiatus, as all boy bands are destined to do.
At this pivotal juncture in their celebrity, the boys are moving on. Zayn Malik has a terrible single out that other people apparently like. Louis Tomlinson is now a father of a baby boy borne by a very close friend. Liam Payne seems to be living a quiet life with his dancer-girlfriend and anticipating Batman vs. Superman like the rest of the boys his age. Niall Horan, who is now by far my favorite member of the band, is launching a golf agency and sitting at pretty crappy seats at Adele and Ellie Goulding concerts, the latter whom he apparently had a fling with while she was still dating Ed Sheeran, but who really knows in this sea of he-said-she-said. Niall may be a regular millionaire-dude, but he has character.
Yet, Harry Styles keeps Harry Stylin’ on, with his growing number of tattoos and his growing mane. Like Zayn (nee Zayn Malik), Styles will also release a solo album; unlike Zayn, though, Styles may star in a Christopher Nolan film. In his personal life, Styles appears to be still potentially dating Kendall Jenner, the supermodel daughter of Caitlyn (nee Bruce) and Kris Jenner and the sister to all those Kardashians. Photos leaked recently of the couple on vacation. Jenner and Styles reportedly dated back in 2014, and at the time, Styles allegedly complained that Jenner was boring, but definitely hot enough to hook up with (so 19 years old!), but perhaps time has made her less boring, and maybe hotter.
Then, I realized: I find Harry Styles boring now.
I don’t know if this says something about him, but my guess is maybe not, or else this flaming hot take will really just combust at any moment. Because I think it mostly says something about me. Perhaps that I’m young and capricious, but also old and disillusioned.
Because Harry Styles is the boy you admired afar in adolescence. He’s charming and witty and handsome and sings, too, but you’ve also never spoken to him, and maybe you will one day, and maybe you never will. But the day you do speak to him, you realize that you have nothing in common with him. You actually have more in common with Niall, but you realized that too late, and a good three years of fandom was wasted. And you will be assured that Harry Sytles will always end up dating Kendall Jenner, or another reiteration of Kendall Jenner. And this isn’t a good or bad thing, but it just is.
Harry Styles was never the boy you wanted, and will never be the boy you need. Because our collective quixotic dream boy will never really be the same boy in our collective reality.
“You are crazy,” a voice whispers to me from the deep, dark void.