Harry Styles’ ‘Fine Line’ One Year On: A Retrospective

It’s been a year since Harry Styles dropped his second album ‘Fine Line’ – fans all around the world went crazy when it was released and they still love it equally as much to this day.

Before we talk about the actual album itself, we need to discuss the incredible PR campaign that led up to the album’s release. It all started in October 2019, mysterious billboards with the phrase “Do you know who you are?” popped up all around the globe. Fans only knew it was related to Harry because of the slogan at the bottom – TPWK (treat people with kindness), a slogan that Styles promoted often during his first tour. Harry also tweeted the word “Do” (whilst he was half asleep) which led fans going mad once again. His amazing PR team also set up the website doyouknowwhoyouare.com where you submit your name and receive a message. 

All of this promotion was leading up to the first release of the album – ‘Lights Up’. Harry sings “Do you know who you are?” which is obviously where the idea for the slogan across the billboards came from. The song itself is excellent – the two minute 52 second song has a strong R&B and 70s style influence. His hazy voice goes along with the music perfectly and it gave fans a great taste of what his second album would be like. 

Whilst talking about the lengths Harry’s team go to to promote his records – there is one thing that I need to say – Eroda. This was the campaign that took all corners of the internet by storm and everything was thinking “What on earth is going on?” If you happened to live under a rock during this time period and have no clue about what I’m going on about, let me fill you in. A Twitter campaign suddenly appeared on everyone’s feed and it seemed like a normal account promoting a holiday place until everyone discovered that this place wasn’t real at all and something was slightly off about it. All of the pictures were stock pictures taken in Scotland whilst some of the tweets were slightly weird – they announced that you cannot leave Eroda on odd numbered days. 

Then before we knew it and after fans doing an immense amount of research, people connected the dots and realised it was connected to Harry Styles. This led to the second single of the album being released – ‘Adore You’ along with an exceptional music video which features the most random characters and the cutest CGI fish (check it out, it’s more like a film if anything). ‘Adore You’ is the perfect pop record that was needed on this album – he sings “Walk in your rainbow paradise, strawberry lipstick state of mind” and “Your wonder under summer skies, brown skin and lemon over ice” and it is almost guaranteed to make you sing along every time you hear it. 

Let’s talk about the rest of the songs on the album though. ‘Watermelon Sugar’ is the big sister to ‘Kiwi’, a song off Styles’ first album and we all remember the iconic tweet from Harry himself – “Kiwi walked so Watermelon Sugar could run”. Like “Adore You’, it’s a classic pop song with Harry’s added influence – you might have to choose to ignore the inappropriate message behind the song. 

There were also two more singles from the former One Direction star’s album – ‘Golden’ and ‘Falling’. They are complete opposites to each other yet both fit so perfectly on the album. Golden is similar to the rest of the singles and you can’t help but scream the lyrics whilst Falling is a soul piano ballad that is supposedly written about Camille Roe, his ex girlfriend. He also performed this on the Brit Awards and that is a performance you definitely need to watch!

This Grammy nominated album also features plenty of underrated songs that aren’t played on the radio much. ‘Sunflower, Vol.6’ is an upbeat song that showcases his unique voice. The song is speculated to be about the early days of a relationship when you are first falling in love with someone. He sings “Kiss in the kitchen like it’s a dance floor” and “Let me inside, I wanna get to know you.” which has made fans wonder who the album is about. Is it about Camille Roe or someone else, who knows?

Speaking of his past relationships, the song ‘Cherry’ actually includes a voicemail from his former lover. The song is about feeling extremely low after a breakup and how to better yourself, so it almost seems a bit random including the voicemail but Styles’ insists that they are still friends. At the end of the song she says in French:

“Hello!”

“Are you asleep?”

“Oh I’m sorry, well, no… no, it’s not important.”

“Well… we went to the beach and now we… perfect!”

“Harry.”

It is hard to identify which part of their relationship the voicemail is from – the before stages, the relationship or the breakup but either way, it is a great touch to an already great song.

The album also features many other great songs – it was featured in the Rolling Stones’ The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list after all. ‘To Be So Lonely’ became popular on the app Tik Tok whilst ‘She’ and ‘Canyon Moon’ are also solid fan favourites.

‘Treat People with Kindness’ is a song that is completely unexpected. The phrase ‘Treat People with Kindness’ dominated Harry’s merch line from his first tour and he quickly became known for using the slogan. The feel good tune is a gospel and 1970s theatre inspired track that surprised fans when they first heard it, as it is completely unrelated to every other song on the album.

The final song is ‘Fine Line’, the track that the album is named after. The tune is a whopping six minutes and 17 seconds long and is a showstopper of a final song. The emotional tune is accompanied by an orchestra at one point and is seen as the happy medium song in between all of the other songs. The heartbreaking song discusses how Harry isn’t happy in the relationship and him singing “We’ll be a fine line” backs up his point. Later on in the song, Harry moves onto saying “We’ll be alright” which shows that he is ready to end in the relationship and he is almost reassuring his ex-partner that everything will be okay in the end. 

Fine Line is an incredible album and is the perfect big sister album to his self-titled debut. It shows how far he has come from the days he spent in One Direction and now how far he has come from his first album. 

I’m sure fans all around the world will be celebrating one year of this amazing album in their own way – whether that’s blasting out all of the songs or manifesting that they finally get to see him on tour again. 

Words by Izzy Hawksworth.

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