It's Been a Whirlwind Decade For Harry Styles, but It's Only the Beginning
Can you believe it's already been almost a full decade of us having Harry Styles in our lives? Whew. I never thought that when I listened to "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction back in 2011 that I would still be here so many years later recapping all the brilliant things one of its members has accomplished.
Harry is, to say the least, special. He's one of those once-in-a-lifetime people who's incredibly talented, incredibly giving, and incredibly charming. (OK, also incredibly good-looking, FINE.) He made a name for himself during his years in One Direction as the kindhearted youngster of the group who always strived for perfection, and he's now a grown man full of star power and with a future brighter than the ridiculous white pants he's wearing on his current album cover.
I've never been quiet about my love of One Direction as a whole and each of the members of the group. Even during the days when everyone around me panned my opinions about loving a boy band and wrote them off because all their fans were girls, we just kept on doing our thing and supporting them. It was still a lot of the same in Harry's early days as a solo artist, and I had to constantly defend the singer I loved because I knew — I KNEW — how talented Harry was and is and what a difference he was going to make on the music industry and, frankly, the world.
Now he's out there creating incredible music and openly supporting all the causes he cares about, all while keeping a sense of humor and just being himself. Y'all . . . he's just good. He's so good, and it's wild that so many more people are finally seeing what I've seen for years. To catch you up on everything you missed before you joined Harry Land, here's a quick recap of his career — including so many pictures — so you can get to know the British singer just a little better. Put your Fine Line vinyl on to play, and keep reading.
2010: The Year the World Met Harry Styles
Ah, let's rewind way back to 2010 when Harry Styles was just a kid from Holmes Chapel, England, who decided to audition for The X Factor. He auditioned for the show by singing Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" and impressed the judges enough to advance through the competition. However, rather than making it as a solo artist, he was placed into a group with four strangers — Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Niall Horan — and the group would become One Direction.
The group closed out the year by finishing in third place on the UK TV show, and despite the popularity they'd gained, no one was quite sure how much success they'd find once the show went off the air. For all the fans knew, all they'd have of Harry would be the cute games production made them play or the video diaries they shot with the fans in mind.
Harry's early years as a celebrity are a stark difference from the Harry we see now. Just look at his outfits, for one. Young Harry loved preppy, loose-fitting clothes and always wore his heart on his sleeve. It's easy to see why he was so well-loved by fans from the start. Between his beaming smile and tender voice, he was made to be a star.
2011: The Year One Direction Hit It Big
In 2011, One Direction really started to take off. The group dropped their monster hit "What Makes You Beautiful," which Harry lovingly still performs to this day. The song blew up all over the world and cemented the group as the boy band of this generation.
The five-piece released their first album, Up All Night, toward the end of the year, which ended up going two times platinum in the US and three times platinum in the UK. In a rare feat of success, the band became the first UK group to have their debut album hit No. 1 in the US. And at this point, Harry, the youngest member of One Direction, was just 17 years old.
The teenager still favored his preppy style and really leaned into being the curly-headed member of the band, charming women and men with his luscious locks and bright smile.
2012: The Year Harry Styles Took the US by Storm
Our Harry turned 18 in 2012, and, well, he grew up a little. He had his first very, very public romance with a fellow superstar in Taylor Swift. It was the year he and the rest of One Direction headlined their first tour in the US, in support of Up All Night. They played 25 shows in North America, all while recording their second album, Take Me Home, which was released at the tail end of the year.
This was actually the year that "What Makes You Beautiful" landed in the US, and this is when I can confidently say One Direction hit it big with US fans. Up until 2012, they were only really known in the UK, but they didn't take long to catch on in the States.
Actually, they caught on so quickly that the group was able to sell out a show at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2012, just a few short weeks after bringing their music to the States. One Direction released their first US album in March, and tickets for MSG went on sale — and immediately sold out — in April. They played the show in December to a roaring crowd and Harry commemorated with an Instagram photo that he re-created when he came back for his own headlining show in 2018.
The group also made their SNL debut and won a slew of awards in 2012, including their first Brit Award for British single of the year for "What Makes You Beautiful," as well as three MTV VMAs.
2013: The Year Harry Styles Proved He Was a Force to Be Reckoned With
The year 2013 brought another tour, another new album, a movie, another SNL appearance, and some new tattoos for Harry. The band toured from February through November in support of their 2012 album, Take Me Home, while working on their third album, Midnight Memories. (Having trouble keeping up? Imagine what it was like for Harry and the other boys.)
The group made a documentary-style musical film called One Direction: This Is Us with director Morgan Spurlock. The film captured behind-the-scenes glimpses of them coming together as a band and traveling the world for work. It also shows some of the pitfalls, like recording on the road and getting very little sleep.
One Direction released Midnight Memories, as usual, at the end of the year, and Harry cowrote four tracks on the album: "Story of My Life," "Happily," "Right Now," and "Something Great." But we really need to talk about the greatest thing that happened in 2013 in One Direction Land (and Harry Land): 1D Day. For an entire day, One Direction took over the internet and just brought joy into our lives. They sang, they played games, Harry tried boba and hated it. It was truly a gift and a sh*tshow all in one.
Anyway, this was also the year I felt like I saw Harry get a little more bold with his fashion. He started more regularly wearing shirts unbuttoned down to there, paired with snazzy boots and large hats. He also set the preppy aesthetic aside and strayed more toward frat-boy chic sometimes and hipster trash at other times. His hair got a little less curly and instead grew into shaggy waves. Long story short, young Harry grew up and started to become a heartthrob.
2014: The Year Long-Haired Harry Styles Appeared
Hello, long-haired Harry. If you ask me, 2014 is when Harry set himself on the path for solo stardom. His fashion choices got bolder, his voice on the newest album got more prominent, and he seemed primed for stardom.
If you're assuming the group went on another tour and released another album, you'd be correct. One Direction toured in stadiums for the first time and recorded and released their fourth album, Four, at the end of 2014. The stadium tour was massive, with 69 shows raking in nearly $300 million dollars. It was during this tour that the group filmed a concert video live in Milan as well.
On Four, Harry had another five cowriting credits to his name, including "Stockholm Syndrome," which he continued to play on tour all the way through last year even as a solo act.
A highlight for Harry in 2014 was openly supporting gay football player Michael Sam at a concert. This was when Harry started to really become vocal about the causes he cares about, one of them being equality. In the years since then, he's ramped up his efforts, doing everything from donating portions of ticket sales to charity to creating merchandise with proceeds going to charity.
2015: The Year Harry Styles Said Farewell to One Direction and Hello to His Solo Career
As a fan of both One Direction as a group and all the boys as solo acts, 2015 was a bittersweet year. It's hard to say goodbye to something like One Direction that I love so much, but it was also so exciting to consider what each boy would do next on his own. I always knew Harry was destined for greatness, but I never quite realized just how big he'd become.
In 2015, Zayn Malik exited One Direction, leaving the other four to finish out their final tour on their own. They played stadiums all over the world, giving their adoring fans one final show before parting ways. The boys dropped their final album, Made in the A.M., in November, played a few Jingle Ball shows in the US, filmed an epic Carpool Karaoke for The Late Late Show, and gave their final performance on the season finale of The X Factor — the same stage that brought them together in 2010. (I'm absolutely crying right now, if you couldn't already tell.)
The group won their final batch of awards (though they've won more since being on hiatus), including two American Music Awards, an ARIA, two Billboard Music Awards, a Brit, and a few Teen Choice Awards. In all, One Direction has won 193 major awards and is still being nominated (and winning) even now, regardless of the group being on hiatus.
2016: The Year Harry Styles Laid Low but Made Some Seriously Big Moves
After One Direction went on their indefinite hiatus, Harry Styles took 2016 to stay out of the spotlight. That's not to say he wasn't still keeping busy. He covered his first magazine since going solo — three different covers of Another Man — that featured the evolution of shedding his long locks.
He also got to work recording his first album, Harry Styles, which would be released the following year. Harry spent a lot of time recording the album in Jamaica, which we got to see in his Behind the Album video.
There was also one other huge project Harry worked on in 2016 — he very casually shot a movie. Not just any movie, but Christopher Nolan's blockbuster Dunkirk. So just in case anyone had assumed up to this point that Harry was just a good-looking kid from a boy band who could maybe sing, we're here to set the record straight that he's also good enough for Christopher Nolan to put him in a movie. And he crushed it.
2017: The Year Solo Harry Styles Came For Our Necks
Back in 2017, I said it was the year the rest of the world figured out what Harry Styles fans knew all along. It was the singer's (and now actor's!) official introduction to the world as Harry Styles period and not as Harry Styles, one part of One Direction.
We got our first taste of Harry's solo music when his debut single, "Sign of the Times," was released in April, followed by the full album, Harry Styles, in May. He also took to the Saturday Night Live stage for the first time as a solo act, and set out on a worldwide tour.
This was also the year that Harry won his first solo music awards — the best international artist award at the ARIAs and choice rock artist and choice male artist at the Teen Choice Awards — and strutted his stuff at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai.
2018: The Year of Some Seriously Fashionable Suits
Harry started 2018 on a high note — he got to be part of Fleetwood Mac's MusiCares ceremony during Grammys week. He shared the stage with the legendary band and sang "The Chain" with them during the show.
He then set out on the second part of his worldwide tour and crossed the globe again, ending the tour in July in LA. At one of his New York shows, Kacey Musgraves, who had been opening his shows, joined him on stage for a duet of "You're Still the One" by Shania Twain.
Harry also tested his modeling skills when he started officially modeling for Gucci as the face of its tailoring campaign that year. Making him a face of the brand was a no-brainer when he was already fond of the label and is such close friends with creative director Alessandro Michele.
After tour, Harry said farewell with a kiss and quietly went back to work for his second album. But before he did, he gave us this interview with Timothée Chalamet, in which they discussed many things, including toxic masculinity and how much it sucks.
He also dressed up as Elton John for Halloween, which will forever be a highlight of his life as well as mine, to be honest.
2019: The Year Rock Star Harry Styles Solidified His Role as Music Royalty
I say the same thing about Harry's career every year: this is truly his year. And then every year he gets a little bigger and a little more successful and exceeds everything I ever thought he can do. Yet again, I'm saying 2019 is Harry's best year yet, but I already know next year will be even bigger.
Harry's biggest accomplishment in 2019 was releasing his sophomore record, Fine Line. He dropped the 12-track album in December, and it's arguably one of the strongest albums the music industry saw all year. But lest you think that's all he did this year, let me remind you that he also inducted his pal Stevie Nicks into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, cohosted the Met Gala, and hosted Saturday Night Live.
He also worked closely with Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele, not only on a Gucci fragrance campaign but also as a muse for Alessandro's designs. This was a year where Harry truly embraced his love of fashion and wore some of his boldest looks yet. He broke through gender stereotypes to become a modern icon for androgynous fashion and continues to push the boundaries.
Every year Harry gains more fans and more notoriety, and 2019 has been no different. This was the year he became a little more mainstream and firmly broke away from his boy band roots. His album fully proved that he's an unbelievably talented singer and songwriter and has gotten attention from people all over the world who now call themselves fans. As someone who has loved and respected this impressive Brit since 2011, it's both exciting and nerve-wracking to see him blow up into a bona fide rock star. What can I say? I'm a protective fan who just wants all the good things in the world for him. I know that his star is only going to continue to rise, and I'll be on the sidelines jamming along for as long as he keeps making music.