Rumors of a Niall Horan solo album became much more significant with the surprise release of his new single “This Town” on Thursday. Although fans had suspected Niall would release a song sometime this week, nothing was confirmed until Niall tweeted a link to him performing the song.
“This Town,” a simple Ed Sheeran-esque love ballad, was a surprising first single choice for Horan. During his time in One Direction, Niall had writing credits on rock songs “Temporary Fix” and “Don’t Forget Where You Belong,” which are much more up-tempo than “This Town.”
During promotional interviews for “This Town,” Niall hinted at what his debut solo album will sound like and who he might be collaborating with.
One such interview was with the Zach Sang Show, during which Niall explained at how “This Town” relates to his future solo album, calling the single “the first taste of a larger album to come.” Niall also discussed how he felt he was perceived when he wrote songs as a member of One Direction.
“I don’t think anyone really gave 1D enough credit in terms of what we were like in the studio. I think people just thought, ‘Oh another manufactured lot who don’t really write their own stuff,’ but people would be wrong if they thought that.”
Because of this, Horan was even more determined to make sure that his solo album would reflect his songwriting abilities.
“So this time around it was me working closely with producers and knowing what I like in terms of sound and being inspired by different artists and how they would write and different ways of writing songs and stuff like that.”
News of a Niall Horan solo album actually began much earlier than the release of “This Town.” Back in June, Cambiar News reported that Niall would be launching his solo career soon and would be releasing a duet with Rihanna. The article also reported that Niall’s bandmate Harry Styles will launch his own solo music career sometime next year.
A duet with Rihanna would be great for Niall’s solo career. Her album ANTi dominated the charts during the first half of 2016, and Rihanna proved with her song “FourFiveSeconds” that she’s capable of tackling any genre, including Horan’s new brand of soft guitar folk.
Apparently, bookies agreed with the rumor: as reported in Express, the odds are 6:4 that Niall will reach number one in the United Kingdom with a single. The odds were also good for a Niall/Rihanna duet: 11:4, to be exact.
Speaking of collaborations, Niall might also have another, more conventional one planned for his debut album.
Shawn Mendes, a teenage singer-songwriter known for hit songs “Stitches” and “Treat You Better,” said in an interview with James Corden that he might make an appearance on the Niall Horan solo album. After Corden asked about rumors that Niall and Shawn would be writing a duet together, Mendes responded in the affirmative.
“[Niall’s] awesome. I’ve been talking to him for a long time but it’s annoying because you know, I’ll be in London and I say ‘Niall I’m here’ and he’ll be like ‘I just landed in LA’ and vice versa. When we get a second, I want to write with him a bunch.”
So that’s two all-star appearances on the Niall Horan solo album. What else do we know about Niall’s debut? So far, not much besides label drama.
Niall was expected to sign with Syco, Simon Cowell’s label, for his debut album. Niall’s band One Direction is signed to Syco, so many rumors posited that he’d stay with the label. However, Niall’s bandmates Liam Payne and Harry Styles both chose to leave Syco and sign with other labels.
Instead, Niall signed with Universal for a “mega solo album deal,” the Daily Mail reported. According to a source, “Universal said they would pay Niall whatever it took. They heard his solo music and they all think it’s got good potential.”
While a release date isn’t yet confirmed, it’s safe to expect the album by early 2017.
Are you excited for Niall Horan’s solo album?
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia]