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.