Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 649

4 1 25 MAY 2023 DON’T MISS THIS WEEK He first appeared on The XFactor in 2010 aged 16. Next month, the former boy bandmember-turnedsolo-superstar will play extra UK dates in his sellout global tour. Stuart Maconie salutes Harry Styles – a joyous, diverse pop album, slickly produced but vibrant, full of great tunes and hooks. Sadly, Harry, only has a global sell-out tour, wealth, fame and the adoration of millions to console him. Poor lad. How didHarry Edward Styles of Cheshire get here, to a record breaking 15 sell-out nights at Madison Square Garden, multiple Grammy wins and highprofile film roles in Oscar-winningmovies? Frankly, he started froma good place, that being one fifth of One Direction, the biggest boy band of the era. At the suggestion of his mumAnne, former landlady of the Antrobus Arms, Northwich, Harry auditioned for The X Factor. “I’mHarry Styles. I’m 16 and I’m fromHolmes Chapel in Cheshire. It’s quite boring. Nothingmuch happens there. It’s quite picturesque,” is how he introduced himself. He was unsuccessful, but later teamed up with four other ‘failures’ from the audition process to compete in the groups category. Styles has suggested he came up with the name One Direction and they eventually finished third. They then became the first band in history to have their first four albums debut at number one in the US and their third album, Midnight Memories, was the world’s best-selling album in 2013. Their tour was the highest-grossing by a vocal group in history, but in 2016 the band took an indefinite break to pursue other activities. InHarry’s case, that involved becoming the biggest pop star in the world, a nice sideline by any standards. That statement looks indisputable right now. Last year, As ItWas became the longest-running number one on the US singles chart by a British artist, with 15 weeks on top of the BillboardHot 100. Parent album Harry’s House debuted at number one, where it stayed for six weeks. As I write, a Covid-delayed, extended world tour – Love On Tour– which began in the US in 2021 is headed back to UK stadia after shows atWembley, Manchester and Glasgow last year. Those shows were accompanied by scenes of hysteria reminiscent of Beatlemania. At various times, he thanked his first teacher, helped a young fan come out, and stopped one show so an audience member could propose. How has all this happened? The answer would seem to be a combination of relatability andmystery. Generation Z has grown up withHarry, first through TV, then through the growing power of social media. His image fromOne Direction onwards has been one of kindness, positivity and gentlemanliness. He dresses flamboyantly and often femininely, speaks out on social justice issues and has not a whi of the toxic male about him. Indeed, he’s as neutral in regard to gender as amale teen heartthrob can be. In 2020, he became the first man to appear solo on the cover of US Vogue sporting a ballgown and black tux jacket. His most recent film role – he has a burgeoningmovie career – was in the sophisticated gay romance drama My Policeman. Cynics like that writer for The Independent claim this is merely fashionable flirting withmodern tropes. But the fans don’t seem to care. JamesMasterson of O cial UKCharts said: “It’s fascinating to see Styles being positioned as a new kind of cross-media poly-talent… nobody has ever done it with a British star before. Former pop stars turned adult superstars such as GeorgeMichael and RobbieWilliams stuck resolutely tomusic.” Even those of us who remained impervious to the charms of One Direction and the soft-rock stylings of Harry’s first two solo albums were charmed and delighted by Harry’s House. Based on the 70s debut album Hosono House by JapanesemusicianHaruomi Hosono and influenced by Asian pop as well as 80s synthmusic, Brazilian funk and R&B, it’s a triumph. Two infectious singles Late Night Talking and As It Was trumpeted its joys around the world while tracks such as Music For A Sushi Restaurant show a wit and intelligence that separates him frommany of his peers. Snobs beware. The world is wild about Harry, and that shows no signs of abating any time soon. @StuartMaconie When the shortlist for last year’sMercury Music Prize was announced, most agreed it was an eclectic and entertaining roll call. But a writer on The Independent wasn’t happy with one inclusion. “Harry Styles should not have been nominated,” was the enraged headline on a haughty opinion piece criticising the 29-year-old former boy band star for, well, being a former boy band star andmoreover one who had the temerity to be influenced by The Beatles, Joni Mitchell and Prince. It was snobbery. But it was more than that – it was cloth-eared snobbery. His album Harry’s House was every bit as good – if not better – than everything on that list ‘Styles is as neutral in regard to gender as amale teen heartthrob can be’ Food&Drink London Restaurant Festival Now in its 15th year, the festival celebrates the capital’s vibrant restaurant scene and inspires people to visit the city’s restaurants. There will be limited-edition menus, chef masterclasses, food tours and more. The launch party is at Pop Brixton on 31 May. londonrestaurantfestival.com Anna Shepard TV Poker Face Rian Johnson (Knives Out) brings us a stylish modern twist on Columbo, with Russian Doll’s Natasha Lyonne irresistible as the shambling but brilliant Charlie Cale. As a cocktail waitress she uses her gift as a ‘human lie detector’ to solve murders while on the run from the mob. Sky Max/NOW TV. Paul Kirkley Opera Glyndebourne It wouldn’t be summer without world-class opera and a picnic in the gardens of the Sussex country house. The festival runs until 27 August, with highlights including Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Tickets for its autumn programme go on sale from Sunday (28 May). Anna Shepard