Niall Horan delivered his second solo single, “Slow Hands,” on Thursday (May 4), and it’s already taking over the iTunes and Billboard + Twitter Trending Top 140 charts. Sure, this is largely due to him having been one-fourth of One Direction, but at least part of the instant success comes from the song being great — so great, it’s arguably even better than his debut single, “This Town.”
With “This Town” being acoustic and “Slow Hands” focusing on a funkier guitar vibe, the songs sound different enough that it’s barely fair to even compare the two. But with only two Niall songs to digest so far (and no album release date just yet), we couldn’t help but make the comparison when considering what makes this song such a jam right out of the gate.
Take a look at why we think “Slow Hands” packs a bigger punch than “This Town,” and take a listen to both tracks while you’re at it.
1. It shows an edgier side of Niall
As the non-tattooed, blonde-haired, blue-eyed heartthrob in One Direction, Horan has always been the good boy of his bandmates. His bold hair color change (to brown) helped show that he’s coming into his own in the post-1D days, but writing a song about a girl taking a guy home certainly serves as an indication that he’s no longer as innocent as fans once knew him.
2. It’s subtly sexy
Starting out with the opening line “We should take this back to my place,” Horan cuts right to the chase with the track’s subject. But he doesn’t include any vulgarity or direct references, and instead uses the almost bluesy beat to set the mood — and still manages a couple semi-scandalous lines like “No, no chance / That I’m leaving here without you on me.”
3. It’s less predictable
Because Horan was the guy for some good, clean fun in One Direction, hearing a soft-and-sweet ballad from him for his first solo single wasn’t all that surprising. Frankly, if “Slow Hands” had been the initial single, he may have freaked some fans out because of how much it doesn’t sound like him. That’s what makes the second go so intriguing, though, proving that Horan has some unexpected tricks up his sleeve.
4. It’s more radio-friendly
Considering the song hardly sounds anything like a One Direction member is singing it (especially because of the saucy lyrics), crossover appeal for radio listeners who considered 1D’s pop too clean-cut is very likely. While “This Town” actually did have a pretty solid radio presence — peaking at No. 20 on the Radio Songs chart — the more upbeat vibes and heavier bass on “Slow Hands” will likely be even more appealing for pop and adult alternative stations alike.
5. It puts up a harder fight against his 1D bandmates’ solo releases
If we haven’t emphasized this yet, these points are not to say that “This Town” isn’t a strong song. It’s as charming as any 1D fan could ask for from Horan, and his vocals sound great on the track. But “Slow Hands” doesn’t just put his voice in a bit of a new light, the grittier, funkier tune also presents Horan’s versatility as a solo artist. With Harry Styles clearly going in a more rock direction, Louis Tomlinson trying dance, Zayn Malik skewing R&B, and Liam Payne apparently teaming up with Migos, Horan’s cute singer-songwriter route on “This Town” wasn’t quite going to be able to hold up against his former bandmates. “Slow Hands,” on the other, um, hand, definitely will.