The period after One Direction went on hiatus in early 2016 was turbulent for Harry Styles. In a new extended digital version of his Better Homes & Gardens cover story, the pop superstar reveals that he reluctantly went into therapy 5 years ago after initially worrying that doing so was possibly a “music industry cliché.”
“I thought it meant that you were broken,” he told the magazine. “I wanted to be the one who could say I didn’t need it.” But once he got over his initial trepidation, the 28-year-old Harry’s House singer said therapy allowed him to “open up rooms in himself” that he didn’t know existed and to feel things more honestly after his previous tendency to “emotionally coast.”
“I think that accepting living, being happy, hurting in the extremes, that is the most alive you can be,” Styles said. “Losing it crying, losing it laughing — there’s no way, I don’t think, to feel more alive than that.” And while his time in 1D is what helped Styles rise to his level of global superstardom, he is also well-acquainted with how disorienting that rocket ride can be.
He said that after attending the 2021 Grammy Awards, he got reflective about Billie Eilish’s path to the spotlight. “She was so much younger than I am, and, when I was in the band, we were always the young guys,” he said of Eilish, who began to gain notice at 13 and released her debut single, “Ocean Eyes,” at 15. “When I did my first solo thing, I was still like the young guy. I’m not like an old man now, but she’s just a different generation.”
Styles said he admires Eilish and watching her navigate fame was a kind of turning point for him in his relationship to living in public. He said it made him reflect on his own journey and identify with what Eilish was going through — with the magazine describing his description of that head-spinning journey as “the sudden rush of admiration, the clamoring — and he felt proud of her, happy for her, but, simultaneously, oddly distinct, hardened even.”
Harry also said it made him realize how always fighting to be the hot new “thing” would make him miserable and that the relentless competition and constant need for validation and relevance in the music industry is what caused so many “breakdowns, countless bad choices, even bad songs in the history of music.”
“You can’t win music. It’s not like Formula One,” Styles said. “I was like, in my lifetime, there will be 10 more people who burst onto the scene in that way, and I’m only going to get further away from being the young thing. So, get comfortable with finding something else that makes you happy. I just found that so liberating.”
That’s partially why he feels like more liberated and relaxed about his upcoming third solo album, Harry’s House, which is due out on May 20. “Finally, it doesn’t feel like my life is over if this album isn’t a commercial success,” he said, noting that it’s the first time he’s ever felt that way in his career. “I just want to make stuff that is right, that is fun, in terms of the process, that I can be proud of for a long time, that my friends can be proud of, that my family can be proud of, that my kids will be proud of one day.”