If you know me, it’s no secret that I love Harry Styles.
Perhaps you’ve noticed some of the lyrics I’ve dropped into some of my post calvin pieces. Perhaps you’ve witnessed me talk in-person or on social media about Harry’s music, his fashion icon status, his budding acting career, or his overall message of kindness, acceptance and unapologetic self-expression. And if you weren’t aware of any of this, I’m assuming my feelings for Harry are clear by now.
My introduction to Harry Styles—specifically his boy band origins—came from a chance moment in high school. I was on the bus ride back from a school field trip at the end of sophomore year when an unfamiliar song came on the radio. As soon it started to play, the atmosphere on the bus shifted to a sort of frenzy as nearly every girl began to excitedly sing along.
“What is this?” I asked, not to anyone in particular. My question went unheard as they started shouting the chorus—“BABY YOU LIGHT UP MY WORLD LIKE NOBODY ELSE!” I was in awe of what was happening.
As soon as I got home that day, I pulled out my iPod Touch (this was pre-iPhone days for me) and Googled the lyrics. “What Makes You Beautiful?” How does everyone seem to know this song? And who is One Direction? Looks like these guys are a British boy band…maybe I’ll just look up their names…hey, Harry Styles is pretty cute…
What started as a simple Google search eventually spiraled into years of my own ecstatic singing at concerts, countless sleepless nights for new album releases, memorizing hundreds of lyrics, and unwrapping some merchandise every birthday and Christmas. My love for One Direction became the backdrop of my teenage years, my coming of age. And throughout those years, Harry remained my favorite band member—originally for his looks, but also for the respectful, affirming, and genuine person he’s been since day one in the spotlight.
Like my love for the band during my teen years, my young adult years have been marked by my love for Harry and his solo music career. I was crushed when One Direction’s hiatus announcement came at the end of 2015. Witnessing Harry’s growth as an artist and his rise to global superstardom, however, has been incredible.
Today, I’m feeling emotional over the recent one-year anniversary of his third studio album, Harry’s House. Since the album’s debut, I’ve found myself dancing in the kitchen to “Late Night Talking” or singing along to “Keep Driving” when I’m in the car. There’s also “Matilda,” a nostalgic and somber track about growing up which I always seem to listen to when I’m feeling melancholy. In one interview last year, Harry said his original intention with Harry’s House was to explore home in a physical, geographical sense. But during the album’s creation process, the notion shifted to an internal journey of finding home and belonging from within.
With this idea in mind, Harry’s House has been a bit of a therapeutic respite for me over the past year as my life has consisted of so much change. There’s something about the theme of this album—and about feeling my own sense of belonging through my admiration and gratitude for Harry all these years—that keeps me grounded.
I know it’s easy for some to dismiss Harry for his boy band origins or to dismiss people who are part of the fan base. Over the years, I’ve heard various jokes and remarks that only feed into the stigma surrounding boy bands—the idea that you can’t take their music or performance style seriously, that the whole idea is “too girly,” or that the fans are wildly obsessive and too imaginatively invested.
To be fair, I think some of the psychology around the questionable side of fandom culture can be true. But as I’ve matured, my enjoyment of One Direction and now Harry’s solo career has evolved as well. It’s become less of a fixation and more of an appreciation—a familiar sense of community and identity. It’s something that just feels like home.
“Don’t you know that I am right here?” Harry sings in the track “Satellite.”
I do, and I’m grateful.
Kayleigh (Fongers) Van Wyk (’18) graduated with a degree in writing and resides in West Michigan. She works as a reporter for the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Grand Rapids Magazine while also making time for freelance writing. When she’s not behind a screen, she enjoys going for walks, eating ice cream, and buying more books than she’ll ever read.