Harry was onstage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, doing a live interview with the hosts of The Morning Mash Up that will air on SiriusXM Hits 1 on February 29 at 6 p.m. As fans hollered and FaceTimed friends so they could see the action by proxy, the interviewers asked Harry which recent pop song he wishes he had written. The former One Direction star answered with his headline partner du jour, Lizzo, and her hit song "Good as Hell."
In his answer, he explained why: “She has this infectious positivity. She's so authentically herself," he said of Lizzo, "and as a fan, I think that's all you really want from what you're watching and listening to... is for them to be themselves." In talking about Lizzo, it seemed like he was also talking about his own work, his own ethos — laying out a roadmap for his likely long musical career.
At the mini concert, he performed his critically-indulged solo work ("Adore You," "Lights Up," "Watermelon Sugar," "Kiwi") right alongside his most massive One Direction hit, "What Makes You Beautiful." (He also brought back the boy band favorite during his recent appearance on The Today Show.) It was all done un-self-consciously, as Harry relished in the crowd sing-a-longs and threw water on the fans.
Clad in a polka-dot yellow sweater, white button-down, and fitted loose trousers, he easily slipped between the idiosyncratic, smiling character in the "Adore You" music video into the boy band-grown fan magnet, and later into the wild, Mick Jagger-infused "Kiwi" era rocker. He was as equally inclined to wax poetic about artistic sincerity in the pop landscape as he was to catch a purple nail polish thrown from an audience member, or jest with a fan who wanted back the watermelon hat she'd tossed onstage. "You're not getting it back," he joked, "Them's the rules."
Rules, however, don't seem to be an issue where Harry is concerned. A staunch defender of female fans, Harry has always gently pushed himself outside of other people's boxes, so slowly you don't even realize he's doing it. He's a fan himself. He knows what it's like to want something sincere, something earnest, underneath the sheen.
Pop music relishes in artifice, but what Harry seemed to be getting at with his Lizzo praise is that there's a way to present fiction that feels just as true, and just as good, as fact. It's not necessarily a question of real or fake, of truth or lie; it's never that straightforward. It's always a fine line. But there's something to be said for artists who can own all the different portrayals of themselves, all the influences, all the cultural contexts — and blend them with all the new stories they hope to tell.
Harry's concert and interview will air on SiriusXM Hits 1 at 6 p.m. on February 29, but you can check out a snippet of the conversation below:
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue