Harry Styles’ New Album Was Graded A Little Harshly By Critics: Why Is That A Good Sign? [Opinion]

Harry Styles’ new album easily topped the Billboard charts, but critics were cautious and frankly critical. That is a really, really good sign, though. It means Styles is being taken seriously by music experts for the first time in his young career.

Harry Styles didn’t get a pat on the head and a gold star from the major critics. That’s something that would not have been a good sign. Instead, he received real, honest, granular reviews that were cautiously positive.

Styles’ new solo album, which was his first attempt at serious rock, landed well with his One Direction fans. But for the first time, he turned the heads of serious musicians and real rock critics.

Harry Styles is solidly respected as a young artist now, not just a successful veteran entertainer, and there is a huge difference. The One Direction heartthrob made a great attempt at something really hard instead of going with something easy, and he is being recognized for that.

Harry Styles’ new album got three out of five stars from most musical publications. NME gave Styles three stars and a “not-that-bad-actually.” They also pointed out that Harry didn’t take “the obvious route,” adding that the album “doesn’t sound like 2017.”

“The fans will, of course, be over the moon with this collection of radio-friendly rockers and heartstring-tugging balladry, and everyone else? Well, they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Harry Styles fans may not realize what high praise this actually is. Coming from a rock-loving NME critic, that is the height of praise. If the new album pleasantly surprises the overall music community, then he has definitely made a mark on music history. He has a chance of inspiring a trend in music.

Rolling Stone was very generous with four out of five stars for the new album and a headline that called Harry Styles a “True Rock Star.” Was that earned or just a pat on the head for young Harry?

“Through it all, he manages to steer clear of all the traps that ordinarily sabotage a boyband star’s solo move. But as the whole album proves, there’s not a thing ordinary about this guy.”

Harry Styles got an extra star from Rolling Stone for not being cliché, not trying too hard, and not sounding like an escaped boy band singer desperate to flee the pop music reservation. The One Direction singer is not making some desperate attempt to drop pop while clinging to commercial methods.

“[Harry Styles] never sounds like he’s trying too hard or scrounging for cred, which is where boy-band alumni usually screw up their solo records.”

Harry Styles new album, for better or worse, abandoned commercialism. It was, if nothing else, authentic, and that is getting attention from rockers.

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The album got credit for digging deep into very old music and re-purposing those riffs into an original style. It’s not like tribute band music or current artists in the rock genre — it’s something different that pulls some elements from the old.

Still, Harry Styles has and needs room to grow, so he didn’t get five stars from anyone. Withholding that last star or two is the ultimate respect. It says we want to hear more. We are blown away by how much you’ve grown as an artist, and we expect even better next time, young Harry.

For Harry Styles at the age of 23, four stars from Rolling Stone is amazing. Five would have said they were just being nice and pandering to Harry’s millions of fans.

Harry Styles is a serious musician now, and glowing reviews won’t be automatic anymore. Rolling Stone and dozens of other real music critics are taking Styles seriously and giving him real reviews and honest assessments of his growing talent.

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Oasis’ Noel Gallagher made headlines because he was brutally critical of Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times.”

“My cat could have written in about 10 minutes!”

Harry Styles didn’t impress Noel, or did he? Gallagher’s response is predictable, especially since Gallagher’s wife loves Styles new album, saying he “sounds like Prince,” according to the Sun. Noel’s brother, Liam, is cautiously optimistic about the new album, so of course, Noel hates it.

The translation of this Gallagher family drama is that Harry Styles has made a serious attempt, has promise, and is now a rising star. If Harry’s new album was not a real rock album and he had no future in rock, Noel wouldn’t have said anything.

Harry Styles didn’t take an easy path, as noted by NME. Those expecting his music to actually sound like old-school classic rock might be a bit taken off guard. It isn’t old-school despite illusions to that in many reviews. It’s not like old music. It’s a whole new spin as if rock music had diverged in a different direction, somewhere between the Beatles and the Stones.


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Harry Styles new album is groundbreaking and is being taken seriously by critics who are challenging him for more and better.

[Feature Image by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP Images]