When Jay Z stated in an interview on Monday that he would like to sign Harry Styles, for a moment the world suddenly sat up and took notice. Yes, if you hadn't already realised, a Harry Styles solo career is legit going to happen and there is nothing you can do to stop it. There is money to made and bangers to be produced.
As far as we're concerned at PopBuzz, this is a good thing. Harry has been the de facto leader of the band almost since it's inception, especially in the eyes of the general public. He's the one with the real star appeal, with the courage, uniqueness, nerve and talent to make a success of a solo career. We couldn't really say the same of Liam or Niall, tbh.
The golden question is what direction (soz) he will go. Jay Z presents a persuasive case. "I can get him working with the bigger artists, the biggest producers" he boasted. "And have him as the biggest artist in the world within a year." Would Harry be suitably seduced by an offer like this? Looking at the artists that Jay Z has mentored before (Rihanna, Rita Ora, Kanye West), they've all had an urban sound. Can we see Harry, a English guy from an X Factor boyband marketed towards young girls, really heading down this route?
Well, it worked with Justin Bieber. So, I guess, anything is possible. However we'd imagine by the time Harry's record saw the light of day, Zayn Malik would almost certainly have tried something similar, something we're sure everyone is keen to avoid.
More importantly, this would also be tragically ignoring the indie/folky niche that Harry has been carving out for himself, both with the songs he's written for One Direction and in his fashion choices. Essentially we think he should do an album like "What A Feeling". A breezy, Fleetwood Mac inspired pop rock song which was by far the most mature and enjoyable moment of their career.
It's already been confirmed that he's worked with members of Snow Patrol but, frankly speaking, we think he can do a lot better. With this in mind, here are some other artists/producers that could take Harry in interesting directions (soz, again).
The Guardian recently described Matty Healy & co as an "art-rock band in boyband’s clothing". Well, that wouldn't be a bad modus operandi for a Styles solo career. The 1975 straddle the point where sex, youthful exuberance and arrogance meets retro pop. It would be a surprising and exciting direction for Styles to take. Oh, and they're mates. That helps.
Okay, we know! But hear us out. Ariel Pink might be an eccentric weirdo from the hills of LA where it's constantly 1973, but he knows his way round a hook. His latest album Pom Pom was essentially a pop album that got lost in the fancy dress shop. We could easily imagine Styles singing the lead to "Put Your Number In My Phone" or "Picture Me Gone". And if Pink is good enough for Miley, then what's the problem?
This guy has worked with everyone. Literally everyone. Adele, Florence, Lorde, FKA Twigs, Lana etc. But the best thing about Epworth is how he hones in on each artist's individual sound. Rather than employing DJ Mustard and getting a DJ Mustard song, with Epworth, he'll produce something very unique to each artist. But any of the artists we named above named would be a good guiding point for Styles.
Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne
So you know when we said Harry should do an album like the 1D song "What A Feeling"? Well Louis and Liam co-wrote that song. Wouldn't it be interesting to hear what they would write together, free of the constraints that come with being in the world's biggest boyband? Plus the Larry shippers would love it. Curiosity killed the cat, and it might kill a solo career, but we'll take the risk.
Formerly the lead singer of glam-rock, Gaga-hangers-on Semi Precious Weapons, Tranter has since started a very successful songwriting career, penning tracks for a motley crew of artists like Justin Bieber, Fall Out Boy, Selena Gomez and Hailee Steinfeld. He's bringing in the hits right now and if Harry was considering a more 'pure pop' direction, this would be our first port of call.
Are we the only ones that would like to see a duet between Li and Harry? Yes. Almost definitely. But Li has a knack for a killer melody, and her last banger, "Gunshot", would be an interesting reference point for Styles if he wanted some indie cred without completely sacrificing his commercial viability. Stranger things have happened (see previously mentioned Miley and Ariel Pink).
Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend)
Regular readers of PopBuzz will know about our obsession with Carly Rae Jepsen. We stan so hard for her we even made E•MO•TION our album of the year. One of the many amazing writers on that record was Batmanglij. When he's not kingpinning in the indie world as one of the main songwriters in Vampire Weekend, he moonlights as pop writer for Charli XCX and CRJ, both of whom have the pop sensibilities and artistic merit Harry will be after. Plus, we're pretty sure Harry would do a bangin' cover of "A-Punk".