Saturday, April 13, 2024

Review: Harry Styles’ “House” Is Full of Familiar Furniture, But the Kids Don’t Know It, So It’s OK


Here’s the deal with Harry Styles and his new album, “Harry’s House.”

It has nothing to do with Olivia Wilde, and less to do with Joni Mitchell’s song, “Harry’s House.” So let’s dispel all that.

Harry is very likeable, full of fun, and a great pop star. He knows how to entertain an audience, and he has great fashion sense. On the Today show yesterday he was dressed like a barber pole with billowy sleeves.

But Harry is not a songwriter. His songs are cooked for him in a factory, not unlike most pop stars these days. He adds a few bars and puts his name on the credits. Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, and many others, have been doing that for years.

“Harry’s House” is full of familiar furniture. But as a Sony exec said to me recently, “The kids don’t know, and it’s okay.”

On his first two albums, Harry had a lot of borrowed riffs and melodies from the 70s. I called them out. No one cared.

With this “House,” the similarities to existing music are everywhere. “Late Night Talking” is a good single because it sounds a lot like Dua Lipa’s “Levitating.” (And listen, she’s being sued over that one anyway.) “As it Was” is a reminder of A-Ha’s “Take on Me.” The opening guitar of “Boyfriends” comes from Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock.” The rest of it sounds like “Bookends.” On “Grapejuice,” you’ll find Paul McCartney’s “Let ‘Em In” speeded up. At least on “Daydreaming,” Styles and his crew give credit to Alex Weir, Quincy Jones and the Brothers Johnson. They couldn’t get away with that one.

Do I expect a totally original album of songs? Not anymore. It’s the third album. Does it matter? Not really. Styles is a sunny, pleasing performer. He’s harmless fun. He doesn’t have to be Simon or McCartney or Quincy Jones and Alex Weir, or even Dua Lipa. Every generation needs a good pop star with an optimistic outlook, a little sexy teasing, and tousled hair. So why not enjoy being a guest in “Harry’s House” for now? Anc maybe all these references will send kids to the originals, which is just fine.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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