The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Harry Styles single breaks boy band mold, outshines Niall Horan

3 min read

Genius and Stereogum


Viewpoints Editor

Harry Styles and Niall Horan found tremendous success in 2010 when they became part of One Direction, but when the group broke up six years later they both went their separate ways. Despite the challenges of breaking the boy band bubble, they have both gone on to headline with their own solo careers, having each released their first albums in 2017, and now each releasing their new singles within the last two weeks.

Yet, as much as their careers have paralleled each other, their aptitude for fame couldn’t be more different.

On Oct 4, Horan released his new single “Nice To Meet Ya,” and the music video has since gained just over 11 million views. The song details Horan’s attempts to find a beautifully elusive girl that he just can’t seem to catch at the right time, and in the music video, he does just that. All over the streets he walks past beautiful girls, one even sporting angel wings, and just when he almost gives up and goes out with the boys, there she is.

While the song has gained popularity, sadly, Horan doesn’t seem able to escape typical boy band premises. Much like One Direction’s songs “One Thing” and “What Makes You Beautiful” this song is merely a grown-up version of a typical boy band tune. Focusing on this nameless girl who stole his heart, Horan simply plays off the fantasy that all boy bands pander to, the fantasy that any one fan in their audience could be the girl they’re singing directly to, and, of course, the girls always swoon while the song never lands on anything or anyone of interest.

His attempts to hit it big have only worked partially, gaining him a fraction of the hundred million, and even billion, views on One Direction’s videos. Horan’s views are also a few million short of Harry Styles’ recent release.

Harry Styles released his single “Lights Up” on Oct 10, a gently melodic pop groove that mimics the pure and embellished sound of other popular artists like Ariana Grande and Lana Del Ray. The song expresses the confusing state of being so public yet not being sure who you are in order to properly represent yourself.

In the lyrics read, “all the lights couldn’t put out the dark, running through my heart. Lights up and they know who you are.” The message of the song is a clear divergence from the roots of what many people expect from him. Unlike One Direction and Horan’s music, Styles goes beyond boy band mentality to express the deeper issues in his life.

The appreciated shift away from topics of the past hasn’t gone unnoticed. While the music video for Styles’ single came out almost a week later that Horan’s, it has gained millions more views, now at 18 million and growing.

The music video itself borrows from the modern aesthetic of sexual movement in low, red and blue light that many artists in the genre have been pulling from in the last couple years, while Horan’s upholds an early 2000’s approach that just isn’t as suitable for today’s audience.

Notably, each of the original five members of One Direction has released solo singles in the last month. Louis Tomlinson released his single “Kill My Mind” as the first of the five, followed by Liam Payne’s “Stack It Up” with rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and finally Zayn Malik released “Rumors” with R&B artist Sabrina Claudio for which the official music video came out this past Tuesday, Oct 15.

While all of the former 1D members continue to make music on their own, the parallels between Horan’s and Style’s releases have appeared particularly competitive, and the winner is clear.