Harry Styles visited Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show on Wednesday morning (May 18) to perform a pair of tracks from his upcoming Harry’s House album, talk about getting naked on screen and reveal his reaction to Will Smith’s Oscars attack on Chris Rock.
But, of course, the thing Stern was most interested in was whether the sensual House song “Cinema” — which includes the line “if you’re getting yourself wet for me I guess you’re all mine” — is about the singer’s paramour: actress-director Olivia Wilde. “Most of the time when I write songs they kind of start out as, like, I guess mine,” Styles said while measuring his words. “It’s important to write from whatever you’re going through at the time,” he added, saying the goal is to do your best to capture a moment.
Undeterred, the host also dug into the entrancing track “Daylight,” which Styles said is one of his favorites, resulting from a late-night “stream of consciousness” moment in the studio that he’s glad he stayed up to capture. After working all day, Harry said his band started working on the song, but everyone was ready to go to bed after a long session. “‘We have to find a way to finish this now,'” he recalled thinking, knowing it wouldn’t be the same in the morning. So they stayed up all night to finish it and celebrated by watching the sun rise on the beach.
“Reading your horoscope, you were doing cocaine in my kitchen/ You never listen/ I hope you’re missing me by now/ If I was a bluebird I would fly to you/ You be the spoon, dip you in honey so I can stick to you,” Stern said, reciting the lyrics about what he surmised was a lover who had blown Harry off despite his affection. Styles admitted that it was about a particular woman who had not responded in the way he had anticipated, leaving him frustrated.
A master of research and never afraid to make connections where they may or may not be, Howard also noted that Styles’ former girlfriend Taylor Swift also had a song called “Daylight,” cheekily wondering if he was reading too much into things. “You’re smiling,” he said to Styles.
“You know I’d love to tell you you’re spot-on, but you’re not,” Harry said of the summery R&B jam. “We will always wonder.”
And while Howard loves to imagine that the rock lifestyle involves partying all night and ingesting substances, Styles said he owes it to his fans to show up in the best shape possible and that he no longer parties after the novelty wore off during his One Direction years. “I try and think of it like almost like an athlete would approach something like that … it’s a pretty incredible thing I get to do and I love it so much so to treat it as such it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice,” he said. “For this 2 hours a night I want to give it 100%.”
Stern also asked about the song “Medicine,” which Styles often plays live, but which hasn’t made it onto a record so far despite being a fan favorite. When the SiriusXM host noted that it seems to be a kind of anthem for fans who are thinking about coming out, Styles said he might reconsider and record it for an album some day, but that performing it live is clearly about creating a welcoming space for his LGBTQ+ fans.
“It’s definitely about feeling like there’s a space where people feel safe enough to kind of share, have those big moments and share them with a room full of people,” said Styles, who added that it’s one of the things he’s most proud of. When Stern asked Styles what he thinks about the current fear among some people in the U.S. that gay marriage and reproductive rights might be rolled back in light of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting that the landmark abortion rights ruling in Roe v. Wade might be overturned, Styles had a predictably thoughtful, inclusive answer.
“A lot of people are taking the right steps to make positive things happen,” he said. “And people who don’t like that are clawing to grapple back any ground that they feel like they’ve lost, which never belonged to them in the first place … I just don’t think anyone should be able to make decisions about anyone’s else’s body. It doesn’t really make any sense to me … I don’t really know where that ends.”
Styles said that kind of talk is “quite scary” and backwards-thinking. “There should be backlash and uproar for these things,” he suggested. But when the radio host tried to get the singer to weigh in on whether he feels safe on stage in light of Will Smith’s slapping Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars, Styles was more guarded. Calling the smack heard ’round the world “incredibly shocking,” Harry said he didn’t want to pile on to the already voluminous amount of commentary on the incident, but opined that it made him “very uncomfortable” and that he didn’t think it was “very cool.”
“I think there’s a boundary that people cross because it’s a blurry line about what part of you is available to people and what is not,” he said haltingly. “Sometimes they take parts of you that don’t belong to them.”
There was some juicy red meat elsewhere, as when Harry revealed that he shows his “bum-bum” in the upcoming film My Policeman (but “no peen”), during which he had to “wear a gas mask” while makeup artists airbrushed his many tattoos for his naked scenes. Stern also wondered what it was like to have love scenes in Don’t Worry Darling, and to fall in love while making it with the film’s director, Wilde. “I had a wonderful experience being directed by Olivia,” Styles offered diplomatically, later explaining that he’s learned the importance of keeping his private life to himself. “Being able to trust your director is a gift. That was very helpful and it really made for a nice experience working on that movie.”
Though he did not get the part, Styles described auditioning for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic, calling The King’s music “incredibly sacred” in describing why he felt compelled to give the role a shot. “I was very intrigued by it … I feel like if a director feels like I’m not the best person for the role then it’s better for them and it’s better for me, “he said. “If they think the movie’s going to be better with someone else then I don’t want to do it because I don’t want to be the not as-good version.”
Styles also admitted he doesn’t look much like Presley, and that he was not insulted about not getting the role after an audition that included reading a few scenes and re-creating an iconic Elvis Las Vegas performance.
The appearance ended with a pair of performances, including “Daylight” and the Simon & Garfunkel-like ode to deceitful lovers, “Boyfriends,” as well as a preview of “Daydreaming,” one of two songs on the new album that features guitar from John Mayer. Styles will celebrate the May 20 release of Harry’s House with a limited “One Night Only In New York” concert on the day it drops at USB Arena; the show will also stream exclusively on Apple Music for fans who have a subscription to the platform to tune in at 9 p.m. ET.
Watch Styles perform “Boyfriends,” and check out clips from his interview below.