Niall Horan promises to put on a good Show with his 'mature' third album: 'There's no heartbreak on this one'

Niall Horan promises to put on a good Show with his 'mature' third album: 'There's no heartbreak on this one'
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Niall Horan is ready to put on a Show.

The former One Direction member and current Voice coach's third studio album, The Show, was born in lockdown following the release of its predecessor, Heartbreak Weather, in March 2020. After getting the chance to "sit still for the first time in probably 10 years," Horan wrote the title track, which he says "kickstarted" the rest of the record.

"The chorus is basically saying we should be grateful for what we have," Horan tells EW. "I think during the pandemic, we lost a little bit of that control we like to have as humans — then that just provoked so many bigger thoughts in my head. It opened a stream of ideas."

None of which, fans might be surprised to learn, entail emotional agony. "There's no heartbreak on this one," Horan says. "If you're coming for a heartbreak love song, I don't think you'll get it here." This, he explains, is the major difference between his latest, "more mature" outing and his previous work.

EW caught up with Horan to find out what else we can expect from The Show and his upcoming tour.

Niall Horan Meltdown
Niall Horan Meltdown

UMG Niall Horan

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I read that track 6, "You Should Start a Cult," was inspired by you and your girlfriend watching true-crime shows. Was there a specific show that gave you the idea?

NIALL HORAN: That's all we watch — true crime — so I couldn't even tell you what the show was, but I just thought that would be a great title for a love song, and to flip it on its head. I just got to writing a love song that sounded so extravagant, and the lyrics were gonna be huge. It's quite a small song, but some of the statements are quite large. And I love the irony of having a title like that — it sounding very angry, but it's not. It's a love song, at the end of the day.

What makes The Show different from your previous albums, Flicker and Heartbreak Weather?It's probably the progression over the last seven years — you know, from my first album through to the second one. I think they were all good albums for where I was at that time in my life, and I think this is perfect for [where I am now]. I would say this is probably the more mature-sounding album. There's no heartbreak on this one, which allows you to write different types of songs. That's probably the biggest difference.

Do you find it more fun to write love songs versus heartbreak songs? Or did you miss writing heartbreak songs on this album? 

I think they're two completely different concepts. Writing is all about where you're at and "saying what you see," to use a cliché. It's very easy to write a heartbreak song when you're heartbroken, and easy to write a love song when you're in love.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

I struggle with this. I made it a 10-track album on purpose — to make sure that, hopefully, when people get to 10 they want to go back to the top and listen to the first one again. You know, instead of having a 16-track album and hoping that it's nearly finished. I've got a few favorites. They've all got a different vibe and a different concept and a different musical element that makes 'em good. If I was to pick one now, I'd probably say "You Could Start a Cult." That or "The Show." Probably "The Show," actually.

Niall Horan Meltdown
Niall Horan Meltdown

UMG Niall Horan

Are there songs that didn't make the album that might see the light of day on something in the future? 

I definitely had some tough decisions to make. I wanted to love every song. I don't know. I'll start writing again at some point, and if I can outdo what I have left over, then fair enough. There are a couple lying around that could be made into something, but as of now they're not going anywhere but my emails or my drafts.

It's been so long since you've been able to tour. What are you most looking forward to?

Just seeing the fans. I spent so much of my career seeing them every night. I'm ready to get back out and play the album I never got to play live, and play this new one, and just create a show — a really good one. I'm already trying to put plans together for how the set would look. I'm just excited to feel that buzz again. It's strange for me that I haven't been on a proper stage in, like, nearly five years. When you think about it like that, it's like, "Oh God, I need to get back on the road."

Niall Horan Meltdown
Niall Horan Meltdown

UMG Niall Horan

You mentioned you'll be playing some of Heartbreak Weather on the tour as well. Any chance you might bring some guests on stage?

Oh, yes, for sure. Any city I go to, if I'm friends with an artist from that city and they happen to be there, I'll always see if I can get them to come up and sing one of theirs or one of mine with me. I think about shows like in L.A., with my collaboration with Julia [Michaels]. It could make for a really good gig. Don't want to say too much, 'cause Julia might say no. So that could change, but that would be my ideal: maybe someone I know from Chicago, or someone I know from San Fran, or whatever...

Who would be your No. 1 pick to perform with?

Springsteen would be pretty sick. Imagine being up in Asbury Park and playing with Bruce Springsteen. I performed with Taylor [Swift] before at Wembley Stadium, and that was magic. Obviously, I would love to do it again. She's a busy lady at the moment.

I mean, she's been bringing people out on her Eras Tour, so you never know. 

She knows where I am.

The Show is out June 9.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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