Our 2022 Annual Report kicks off with the announcement of Harry Styles as our Artist of the Year. As the year winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2022. Plus, check out our Top 50 Songs of 2022 list here.
Come on, Harry, we want to say congrats.
As another wild year in entertainment heads towards a close, it would be nearly impossible to discuss many of the biggest pop culture moments of 2022 without talking about Harry Styles. If breaking Billboard records and releasing a third solo album (which then earned him six more Grammy nominations) wasn’t enough, Styles also spent the past few months heading one of the most in-demand and oft-discussed tours of 2022. Don’t worry, darling, there was also a foray into movies that saw the artist on the film festival circuit, too. For one reason or another, Harry Styles was the name on everyone’s lips.
Styles offstage operates mostly within a tight-knit circle of trusted collaborators, and pulled in some of his favorite co-writers and producers to begin laying the foundation for Harry’s House, released in May 2022. The results were strong — Styles’ latest full-length outing is a pop-rock record that dazzled upon arrival and ended up having the legs to remain relevant as the year wore on.
Lead single “As It Was” sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 for a whopping 15 weeks, the longest reign by a British artist and by an an artist with no features or accompanying acts. As the record extended, Styles’ name was No. 1 on the charts the same week a film with his first starring role was No. 1 at the domestic box office.
Harry’s House was a breath of fresh air, kicking off with the buoyant “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” and wrapping with the minimalist, emotional “Love of My Life.” Tucked in the 13 tracks are small peeks into Styles’ daily life, confessional moments of intimacy, and thoughtful encouragements, like the tender “Matilda.” The gentle ease of “Cinema” and glow left behind by “Daylight” ensure that the B-sides are far from filler. It’s an album that felt true to this moment in Styles’ career — it’s self-assured and calmer than the intensity of his self-titled debut or the seductive melancholy of Fine Line.
When Styles took Harry’s House out on the road and added songs from the record to the set list of the wonderfully never-ending “Love On Tour,” things really kicked into high gear. Residencies have become something of a trend in the business of live shows, which is still struggling to find stability in a Covid-rattled world, but Styles perfected the mini-residency with his 2022 outings, setting up shop in a city for weeks on end and letting the crowds flock his way.
Getting into Harry’s House quickly became the hottest ticket in town, and the most dedicated among the Harries would take to sleeping on the sidewalk or waiting in August New York heat for a shot at the best spot in the pit. The most diehard fans might have even been caught hopping from city to city, forming a boa’d and bejeweled caravan. Whether enjoying the show from the floor or closer to the rafters (for this writer it was the latter, for what it’s worth), the environment at one of Styles’ live shows was positively electric.
Part of fandom is the creation of inside jokes, rituals, and routines, and a Harry Styles concert has its own fingerprint, from the outfits to the energy. Jump in the conga line that always pops up during “Treat People with Kindness” or always wonder what could have been.
When it comes to an ultra-famous artist like Styles, who is relatively private and refrained from extensive press around the release of his album this year, it’s always nice to receive external confirmation that there’s some truth to a reputation centered on kindness and generosity. We spoke to five acts who have opened for Styles, and there was a lovely common thread running through the conversations: Styles seems to be a good leader who tries his very best to set the tone for the enormous crew required to pull off shows at this level. “Styles is genuinely a really nice guy, so that helps,” shared Jacob Lusk, frontman of Gabriels. “People can fake it for a little while, but they can’t fake it for six days.”
“One thing I really appreciated is that both of the days we played shows with him, Harry would run the stairs in the arena during soundcheck,” Madi Diaz also recalled. “He was taking time to watch the set, which was really sweet.”
“Harry was so kind to us that it left a mark on all of us when we left,” added Madison Cunningham. “For him to ask us to be there was a a mind-blowing thing in and of itself, and then for him to lay the groundwork for his fans to be kind to us as well… that was mind-blowing, too.”
Elsewhere, much can be said about the conversation around Don’t Worry Darling, but Styles’ latest move into acting wasn’t the outright disaster some try to claim. (It’s really not his fault that Florence Pugh can act circles around almost any scene partner.) Don’t Worry Darling, despite middling reviews, was still a box office success, grossing $86.7 million worldwide on a $35 million budget. While the same can’t quite be said for the melancholy My Policeman, and Styles’ leading man status wasn’t cemented by his 2022 efforts, one thing’s for sure: He gave the people plenty to talk about.
Sometimes, that’s all we really need from our favorite entertainers. They try new things, they take risks, and they bring their very best efforts to a new project — and in the case of Styles, they make sure to prioritize inclusivity, kindness, and joy. “Treat People with Kindness” has certainly become more than a song title for Styles and his camp, and now feels foundational to his entire brand. Prevalent in videos of him helping fans come out to a family member at various tour stops throughout the year is a feeling that this isn’t just for show, but rather the environment that he’s genuinely hoping to foster at his concerts.
If people who stop by Harry’s House are then able to bring a little bit of that magic out into the world with them after the house lights come back up, we’ll call it a win for everyone.