In 2019, it’s a safe bet that you’ve heard of Harry Styles. If it wasn’t because of his solo work or the fact that he’s the likely subject of a number of pithy Taylor Swift songs (including one aptly named « Style »), it’s because of his former band One Direction. The group, which was formed by Simon Cowell in 2010, got their start on The X Factor. They ultimately lost the the British reality show competition but went on to sell more than 50 million records before going on a hiatus in 2015.
Since his days in One Direction, Styles has launched a massive solo career. In November 2019, he announced his second full-length album Fine Line, and landed a coveted Saturday Night Live hosting gig. Though it seems like star is at the height of his solo career, he still puts off all the charm of a small town boy from Holmes Chapel, Cheshire. How did he manage to stay grounded despite his massive fame? There’s a lot we don’t know about the former boy bander.
Harry Styles had a not-so-glamorous day job
It’s hard to imagine a pop star with an estimated £50 million net worth (about $64.8 million USD) working a day job, but at one point, Harry Styles was like every other struggling musician. Before Simon Cowell plucked the « Sign of the Times » singer from The X Factor auditions, he worked at a local bakery for two years.
According to the Mirror, Styles was 14 years old when he started working at W Mandeville bakery in his hometown of Holmes Chapel, England. The star made £6 an hour (roughly $7.80 USD) serving customers, cleaning the back areas and counters, mopping the floors, and washing trays every Saturday (which was, presumably, his day off from school). Though Styles probably lives a very cushy life right now, he apparently never complained about the hard work and was a star among his fellow employees. According to his former boss, Simon Wakefield, the singer « was the most polite staff member » they’ve ever had and the ladies absolutely loved him, which is pretty much what we’d expect from a future cover boy.
« The shop suddenly had an influx of girls when Harry worked here. Sometimes there would be 12 of them pouring in at one time. Even now, a group of 20 girls will sometimes come in and start taking photos of the shop, » Wakefield told the Mirror. Hey, at least Styles seems to have a pretty good fall back if this whole music thing doesn’t work out.
A pop punk band served as Harry Styles’ musical roots
Harry Styles didn’t just leave behind his bakery job when he made it big with One Direction — he also left behind his former band. According to the Manchester Evening News, the « Two Ghosts » crooner was the lead singer of a pop punk band called White Eskimo, and you can thank the band for the mere idea of Styles of covering a Blink-182 song (and the grainy video that proves it).
Styles only lasted seven months with White Eskimo, but the boys trucked on without him. Though they haven’t quite sold more than 50 million records like One Direction, at the time of this writing, it looks like they’re still playing shows. They released a new music video in September 2019 and even landed a spot on BBC Music’s Introducing… program. For comparison, their former lead singer hosted and performed on Saturday Night Live in November 2019, but White Eskimo doesn’t seem to be sweating it. Will Sweeny, who took over the role of lead singer after Styles’ departure, told the Manchester Evening News that the band doesn’t want to live in the former boy bander’s perfectly-dressed shadow.
« Trying to compare us to One Direction is like comparing us to Westlife or Metallica to Take That. We are completely different. We haven’t been Simon Cowelled, » he said. Sassy!
Harry Styles attic bedroom makes no sense
Over the years, Harry Styles has made some pretty large real estate investments. In 2019, he sold his Hollywood Hills home at a nearly million dollar loss but managed to scoop up a north London property (his second in the area) for a whopping £8.8 million (roughly $11.4 million USD), according to the Evening Standard’s Homes & Property. So, it’s hard to imagine the star sleeping on a tiny mattress in a suburban attic, but that’s exactly where Styles spent his early years as a genuine celeb.
Speaking with Rolling Stone, Emmy-winning producer Ben Winston opened up about how forming a friendship with Styles during the beginning of One Direction led to a house guest that wouldn’t leave. The singer had recently moved out of his childhood home and purchased new digs near the Late Late Show with James Corden producer, but he had to wait two weeks before he could move in. Styles asked if he could crash with Winston, who happily obliged, but those two weeks ultimately turned into 20 months.
« Those 20 months were when they went from being on a reality show, The X Factor, to being the biggest-selling artists in the world, » Winston told Rolling Stone. « That period of time, he was living with us in the most mundane suburban situation. No one ever found out, really. Even when we went out for a meal, it’s such a sweet family neighborhood, no one dreamed it was actually him. »
Harry Styles came from a loving home
Harry Styles had a pretty typical upbringing in Cheshire, England. A Rolling Stone profile revealed that « his father, Desmond, worked in finance, » his older sister was really book smart, and he still does things like play his new album « on cheap speakers » in his mother’s living room. The star is grounded, and perhaps that has a lot to do with his upbringing, which he described as « great. » Regardless, there were some trying times. His parents split up when the singer was seven years old, and Styles reportedly teared up while talking about it to Rolling Stone. He also admitted that he never realized he was missing a very specific painful memory until the magazine asked about it.
« I don’t remember, » he told Rolling Stone. « Honestly, when you’re that young, you can kind of block it out. … I can’t say that I remember the exact thing. I didn’t realize that was the case until just now. Yeah, I mean, I was seven. It’s one of those things. Feeling supported and loved by my parents never changed. »
To this day, Styles remains close to both of his parents. He even served as the best man when his mother remarried.
One Direction can thank Harry Styles for its name
Harry Styles’ mom may be the reason One Direction ever happened in the first place. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the singer admitted that he only ended up trying out for The X Factor because his mother suggested it after hearing him sing in the car. Of course, he took his mom’s praise with a « pinch of salt » because mothers are sort of biased when it comes to their kids’ talent, but Styles ultimately competed in the solo « Boy » category where he sang a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s « Isn’t She Lovely » to judge Louis Walsh’s dismay. Regardless, Simon Cowell saw something in the young singer and brought him back to be part of One Direction, but One Direction wouldn’t exist as we know it if it wasn’t for Styles’ suggestion.
In a CBS interview (via Clevver News), Styles talked about the origins of One Direction’s name. He and his fellow band members were tossing around different ideas and he thought One Direction sounded good. The whole thing seems kind of random and doesn’t hold any greater meaning. « I honestly don’t know, » he told CBS when asked who suggested the name. « I suggested it, and everyone was like ‘Yeah, we like that,’ and then it kind of stuck and that was what it was, » he said.
You probably didn’t know Harry Styles wrote these songs
Harry Styles’ solo project was a success from the start on both sides of the Atlantic. According to Forbes, his first self-titled, full-length solo album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and has since gone platinum; he’s a Hot 100 regular when you factor in his work with One Direction; and his first solo single, « Sign of the Times, » first hit the UK charts at No. 1. Styles’ won success aside, he’s also behind some songs you’ve probably heard, but also probably would never connect to the singer.
In a 2014 MTV interview, Ariana Grande admitted that Styles penned her track « A Little Bit of Your Heart » after a chance encounter between them at a studio. « He went into the other room and they were writing for a while and I remember when I heard it I was like ‘Wow that’s a really strong verse, that’s really beautiful’ … and then the chorus I was like crying! So it’s great, » she said.
Styles also partnered up with Meghan Trainor to write an acoustic love song called « Someday Maybe. » According to Teen Vogue, Trainor told BBC Radio 1 that she was surprised a 20-year-old dude like Styles could write lyrics so « poetic and mature. » The song was ultimately given to Michael Buble, who included it on his album Nobody But Me under the name « Someday. »
One Direction’s break was Harry Styles’ idea
Longtime fans of One Direction know the band seemingly self-imploded when Zayn Malik left in the middle of their massive 2015 world tour and officially quit shortly thereafter. Though the group continued on without Gigi Hadid’s former flame, Us Weekly reported that its hiatus became indefinite in 2016, and according to the BBC, it has since « dissolved its touring company. »
Contrary to popular believe, it wasn’t Malik who originally voiced his desire to take a break (though, he later claimed he « never really wanted to be there, like, in the band »). It was Styles who first pitched the idea when the group was in the studio in 2014. He admitted to Rolling Stone that the hiatus was his idea, but the band eventually agreed, and announced it a few months after Malik left. « I didn’t want to exhaust our fan base, » he told the outlet, adding, « If you’re shortsighted, you can think, ‘Let’s just keep touring,’ but we all thought too much of the group than to let that happen. You realize you’re exhausted and you don’t want to drain people’s belief in you. »
So, we can stop blaming Malik now, okay?
Teenage fangirls have their own fan: Harry Styles
Teenage fangirls catch a lot of heat, and it’s almost certain that Tumblr fan fiction doesn’t really help their case. Nonetheless, Harry Styles sees what the mainstream media doesn’t. Teen girls — who made up a huge chunk of One Direction’s fan base — are the future, and they’re just as cool as some hipster who loves Arcade Fire. In fact, they’re some of the most honest, genuine music fans out there.
« Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say, » Styles told Rolling Stone. He continued, « Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans — they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.«
Harry Styles: 1. Sexism: 0.
Harry Styles doesn’t live the rock star lifestyle
Harry Styles certainly channels Mick Jagger with his sartorial choices. He even did a spot-on impression of the Rolling Stones star during a 2017 Saturday Night Live appearance, but the former One Direction member’s life couldn’t be any more different. He’s not rolling fast like a Rolling Stone. Instead, he might actually be one of the most wholesome rock stars on the planet.
In an interview with The Sun, Styles admitted that he never really drank or did drugs on tour, partly because he was hyper-focused on having a good performance. « On the first couple of tours it was so exciting as we’d have a drink and go to parties, » he admitted. « But for me, the albums got higher so they become harder to sing so I knew if I didn’t come off stage and go to bed I wouldn’t be able to sing the next night. Also, it’s just not for me. I’d rather wake up with a clear head. »
This seems like a stark contrast from some of his former bandmates. According to the Daily Mail, Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson were caught on video smoking what appeared to be a joint filled with cannabis. Malik even referenced using « too much drugs and alcohol » on his solo single « Good Years. »
It’s really no one’s business who Harry Styles hooks up with
After Harry Styles performed the unreleased track « Medicine » live in May 2018, Billboard reported that fans labeled it a « bisexual anthem. » With lyrics like « The boys and the girls are here/ I mess around with him/ And I’m OK with it, » it was easy to understand the reaction. As Billboard pointed out, however, it was hard to discern the exact lyrics because the audio was kind of warbled.
A year later, Rolling Stone profiled Styles, and suggested that he « likes to cultivate an aura of sexual ambiguity, » by doing things like « [waving] the pride, bi, and trans flags » onstage, and promoting « previously unknown queer artists like King Princess and Muna. » Asked why he’s taken this route, Styles said, « I want to make people feel comfortable being whatever they want to be. … I’m aware that as a white male, I don’t go through the same things as a lot of the people that come to the shows. I can’t claim that I know what it’s like, because I don’t. So I’m not trying to say, ‘I understand what it’s like.’ I’m just trying to make people feel included and seen. »
As of this writing, the star hasn’t publicly defined his sexuality, but he did answer The Sun‘s question about labelling his sexuality with: « I don’t feel like it’s something I’ve ever felt like I have to explain about myself. »
Harry Styles let Ed Sheeran give him a tattoo
Ed Sheeran is many things — a husband, an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), a random addition to Game of Thrones, and the bearer of a massive chest tattoo — of a lion. Out of all the things Ed Sheeran is, a tattoo artist isn’t one of them. Nonetheless, Styles still let the « Shape of You » singer give him some ink.
In an interview with Joiz, Sheeran admitted that he did, in fact, give Harry Styles a tattoo, but that he’s « not really » a very good tattoo artist. « [Styles has] got a lot of random tattoos, so … it doesn’t really matter, » Sheeran admitted. It’s true. According to Refinery29, the « Sign of the Times » singer has an upwards of 55 different tattoos, including a tattoo of Pingu, the British children’s show character, that he got along with Sheeran.
Styles also has some other interesting markings that he was born with. In an interview with Chelsea Handler, the star admitted he was born with four nipples. They are, of course, much smaller and look more like moles.
Harry Styles loves a good rom-com
Harry Styles isn’t just the kind of wholesome pop star who worked at a bakery, defends teenage fangirls, and slept in a spare attic room like it wasn’t weird for a celebrity to live in a non-mansion. He also has a passion for romantic comedies, which he presumably watches when he’s not drinking and not doing drugs like the bring-home-to-mama kind of rock star he is. In an interview with BBC Radio 1, the singer owned up to — or rather, was called out for — absolutely loving Nicholas Sparks films.
« When I was in Jamaica, we kind of got into a routine of like, we would write, and then we’d have dinner, and then we’d watch countless amounts of romantic comedies … anything that Nicholas Sparks has ever done, ticked off, » he told host Nick Grimshaw (pictured above). « I always circle back to The Notebook, » he added.
Styles initially tried to claim that he didn’t actually like Ryan Gosling/Rachel McAdams classic as much as Grimshaw claimed he did, but there was no hiding. The pair had watched the movie together after a hearty meal, and Grimshaw claimed Styles recited all of the lines as they were happening. Styles admitted the whole thing was a little weird when the sun started setting, and it was just two bros watching The Notebook « by candlelight. » If you can’t watch Nicholas Sparks films and have a Sunday roast with your bros, what are bros for?