Is Harry Styles a superstar?
He was always treated like one, right from the moment One Direction hit the “pause” button. He was the de-facto frontman, or at least the one who generally grabbed all the headlines, he was lead heart-throb, he was the one granted first bite at the solo cherry. And his debut single Sign Of The Times was unveiled to the public in a manner that indicated we were all to bow down and appreciate his majesty.
But we know what happened next. The single spent a week at No.1, for sure, but everything else from his self-titled debut album was a resounding flop. The loyal fans were still there, but few others among the general public cared.
Which is why the more measured approach to his second album Fine Line paid off. The music was left to breathe on its own merits, the most notable product of that being Watermelon Sugar, the global smash of the summer of 2020 and which came back for another wander around the charts a year later, returning to the Top 30.
So this time around the excitement surrounding his new single As It Was, the first cut from his forthcoming third solo album, was legit. A new Harry Styles single was a big deal. Because his last one was.
So here are a few salient facts about Harry Styles’ new hit:
- It enters the chart at No.1 with a huge sale of 94,140 (of which a mere 3,034 were via paid downloads). A bigger sale than any other single has achieved so far this year and indeed the biggest weekly performance of any of his solo singles to date (Sign Of The Times did 62,900 in its sole week at No.1).
- It is his second No.1 single, making him the only 1D star to have topped the charts more than once (ZAYN is in fact the only other member of the group to have ever hit the summit).
- It is bloody short, running just 2:47, second only to Where Are You Now as the briefest of all the current Top 10 singles.
- It is astonishingly derivative, in the sense that it is sat atop The Weeknd’s trademark tinkling 80s synthpop revival bandwagon. Meaning that “superstar” Harry Styles is suddenly not in his own space but crammed into one owned by someone else.
The latter point has gifted him a smash, but from this listener’s perspective it makes absolutely no sense at all.