One Direction's Harry Styles: Soundtrack of My Life | EW.com

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One Direction's Harry Styles: Soundtrack of My Life

The singer-songwriter shares the albums, songs and artists that have inspired him through the years

(Mat Hayward/Getty Images)

One Direction’s fifth album, Made in the A.M., hits retailers on Friday — and to celebrate the massively popular boy band’s last album before going on a hiatus, EW caught up with the group to learn about the songs, albums, and artists that have inspired them over the years. Below, Harry Styles shares his picks. For more, here’s Louis TomlinsonNiall Horan, and Liam Payne.

He’s easily the most recognizable face of One Direction and he may garner the most attention as the group gets ready to go on hiatus with the release of their new album. Depending on what you read, Harry Styles is either itching to launch a solo career or to continue behind the scenes as a writer. (He’s penned tunes for Ariana Grande, Alex & Sierra, and Meghan Trainor, to name a few.)

For now, Styles tells EW that he’s focused on launching Made in the A.M., a record the band is “very, very proud of. We’re looking forward to sharing it with everyone — we kind of want to get it out.” That may be an understatement: on Tuesday, One Direction released “Love You Goodbye,” joining “History,” “End of the Day,” and “Infinity” as early releases alongside singles “Drag Me Down” and “Perfect.”

Ahead, Styles, 21, talks about the albums and songs that shaped his and the group’s approach to the record. No surprise for anyone even tangentially familiar with Styles’ sartorial and musical tastes, the ’70s and ’80s play a huge role.

THE FIRST MUSIC I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY: Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf

“I think it was Bat Out of Hell,” Styles says of the first music he ever bought with his own money. “Meat Loaf. I think I was about 10.” If Bat Out of Hell seems an odd choice for a 10-year-old, Styles explains, “I used to listen to a lot of my dad’s music and my mum’s music. They already had that album that I listened to, and then my dad lost his Bat Out of Hell so I went out and got one.”

THE FIRST SONG I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC: “My Way,” Frank Sinatra

Styles first answers that his professional debut came with a performance of Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ‘69,” but amends to say that the first time he ever performed in public was when he was 9 years old, when he took on “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. “I was at a karaoke machine in a pub and I was not very confident.” The crowd response was positive, but, “I mean, I knew most of them so I think they were being nice since I was 9.” Biased, then? “Yeah, a little biased.”

THE ARTISTS THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED ME: The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Norah Jones, Shania Twain

Styles lists a number of musical inspirations, once again crediting his parents for how their tastes influenced his own. “My dad was a big [fan of] The Beatles, Elvis Presley, [The Rolling] Stones, Fleetwood Mac, that kinda stuff,” he says. “I think if you grew up listening to that, a child can’t not be influenced. Yeah, a lot of that was [my parents]. And then my mum was crazy into Norah Jones and Shania Twain, so I have that side, too, which is fun.”

A SONG I WISH I HAD WRITTEN: “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” Paul Simon

“I wish I had written ‘50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,’” Styles says. Like the rest of his musical inspirations, the track is an oldie, hailing from Paul Simon’s 1975 record Still Crazy After All These Years. “I think the verse in that song is one of the best verses ever written. It’s incredible.”

THE SONGS I’M MOST PROUD OF: “Infinity,” “Drag Me Down,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” and “Happily”

Asked to name one song from Made in the A.M. and one from the previous four, Styles says he’s especially proud of promotional single “Infinity” as well as “Drag Me Down,” the band’s first single following the departure of Zayn Malik. “I was really happy with how ‘Drag Me Down’ went around. I like that one a lot. And from [Four], probably ‘Stockholm Syndrome,’ which we [did] on tour and people seem[ed] to like it. We’re happy with that one.”

Styles even threw in a bonus, citing “Happily” from Midnight Memories, their third outing and the title track for which Louis Tomlinson was most proud of as it was “the first song that we felt like we had real ownership over.”

THE MUSIC I LIKE THAT MIGHT SURPRISE PEOPLE: Lianne La Havas

There’s “probably a lot” of music that Styles enjoys that would surprise people, he says. “I just got really into Lianna La Havas. I think she’s great.” For the uninitiated, La Havas is a British folk/soul singer-songwriter whose second album, Blood, dropped over the summer. “There’s plenty of stuff [I like] that people aren’t going to necessarily assume … but yeah, it changes constantly. That’s what makes it so fun.”