Harry Styles auditioned for the UK television show The X Factor in 2010, and the judges chose him along with four other young male singers to form One Direction. The boy band rose to prominence as a pop music sensation, delivering hits such as “Best Song Ever” and “Story of My Life” across five massively successful studio albums. Styles then went solo in 2017, releasing his debut single “Sign of the Times” and a self-titled album. Fine Line, his second solo album, was critically acclaimed in 2020.
Harry Edward Styles was born on February 1, 1994, in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England’s West Midlands. Des and Anne divorced when he was seven years old. His mother raised him and his sister Gemma in the Cheshire town of Holmes Chapel. His mother remarried to Robin Twist later in life.
Styles attended Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, where he formed the band White Eskimo with three of his friends. Styles was the lead singer for White Eskimo, and the band was successful enough to win a band competition at their school. Styles worked at the W. Mandeville bakery in Holmes Chapel after school and on weekends.
‘The X Factor’
Harry competed in the seventh season of The X Factor in 2010, when he was 16 years old, singing Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” as his audition song and Oasis’ “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” in a later round. He was eliminated before the finals, but in an unexpected move, judges Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell paired him with fellow competitors Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik to form a new group act for the rest of the competition.
The five boys became one of the most popular X Factor contestants that season, performing as One Direction (a name reportedly suggested by Styles). Despite finishing third in the competition, they were immediately signed to Cowell’s Syco music label.
Styles, One Direction’s youngest member, quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his curly hair, wide smile, and sweet-yet-naughty demeanor. He sang some of the lead vocals on the band’s first single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” which was released in the United Kingdom in September 2011. The following year, One Direction’s debut album, Up All Night, was a best-seller in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Styles and the rest of One Direction performed at the Olympics closing ceremony in London, which was another highlight of 2012.
Styles went on to have enormous success with his bandmates, with Take Me Home (2012), Midnight Memories (2013), and Four (2014) all debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 after Up All Night. The group’s final album, Made in the A.M., came in at No. 2 in 2015, just missing the cut before the band split for a lengthy hiatus.
Solo Albums: ‘Harry Styles,’ ‘Fine Line’
Styles made a successful solo debut in 2017 with the epic single “Sign of the Times,” and his accompanying self-titled album debuted at No. 1 as well. Fans had to wait another two years for his next single, “Lights Up,” which was released in October 2019. Fine Line, his sophomore solo album, featured his first No. 1 single, “Watermelon Sugar.” He was also nominated for three Grammys that year.
Styles made his feature film debut as an Allied soldier named Alex in Christopher Nolan’s 2017 war thriller Dunkirk, after appearing in concert documentaries with One Direction.
As One Direction’s “flirt,” Styles’ romantic relationships were obsessively followed by the press and fans as he rose to fame. He began dating television presenter Caroline Flack in 2011, whom he met while competing on The X Factor and she was hosting The Xtra Factor. The age gap between them—Styles was 17 at the time, and Flack was 32—became a point of contention.
Styles has dated photographers Sarah-Louise Colivet, models Emma Ostilly and Cara Delevingne, and singers Lily Halpern and Rita Ora. His most publicized relationship in 2012 was a two-month affair with pop star Taylor Swift, which allegedly inspired two of Swift’s songs. Later, Styles dated French model Camille Rowe.
During a March 2020 interview with Howard Stern, the singer discussed Swift and his romantic life, calling it “flattering” to be the subject of someone else’s songs and describing his recent encounter with muggers on Valentine’s Day.