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Ruthless Love

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  1. Harry-Styles-Variety-Hitmakers-2-16x9-1.jpg

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    “We’ll dance again,” Harry Styles coos, the Los Angeles sunshine peeking through his pandemic-shaggy hair just so. The singer, songwriter and actor — beloved and critically acclaimed thanks to his life-affirming year-old album, “Fine Line” — is lamenting that his Variety Hitmaker of the Year cover conversation has to be conducted over Zoom rather than in person. Even via videoconference, the Brit is effortlessly charming, as anyone who’s come within earshot of him would attest, but it quickly becomes clear that beneath that genial smile is a well-honed media strategy.

    To wit: In an interview that appears a few days later announcing his investment in a new arena in his native Manchester (more on that in a bit), he repeats the refrain — “There will be a time we dance again”— referencing a much-needed return to live music and the promise of some 4,000 jobs for residents.

    None of which is to suggest that Styles, 26, phones it in for interviews. Quite the opposite: He does very few, conceivably to give more of himself and not cheapen what is out there and also to use the publicity opportunity to indulge his other interests, like fashion. (Last month Styles became the first male to grace the cover of Vogue solo.) Still, it stings a little that a waltz with the former One Direction member may not come to pass on this album cycle — curse you, coronavirus.

    Styles’ isolation has coincided with his maturation as an artist, a thespian and a person. With “Fine Line,” he’s proved himself a skilled lyricist with a tremendous ear for harmony and melody. In preparing for his role in Olivia Wilde’s period thriller “Don’t Worry Darling,” which is shooting outside Palm Springs, he found an outlet for expression in interpreting words on a page. And for the first time, he’s using his megaphone to speak out about social justice — inspired by the outpouring of support for Black people around the world following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.

    Styles has spent much of the past nine months at home in London, where life has slowed considerably. The time has allowed him to ponder such heady issues as his purpose on the earth. “It’s been a pause that I don’t know if I would have otherwise taken,” says Styles. “I think it’s been pretty good for me to have a kind of stop, to look and think about what it actually means to be an artist, what it means to do what we do and why we do it. I lean into moments like this — moments of uncertainty.”

    In truth, while Styles has largely been keeping a low profile — his Love On Tour, due to kick off on April 15, was postponed in late March and is now scheduled to launch in February 2021 (whether it actually will remains to be seen) — his music has not. This is especially true in the U.S., where he’s notched two hit singles, “Adore You,” the second-most-played song at radio in 2020, and “Watermelon Sugar” (No. 22 on Variety’s year-end Hitmakers chart), with a third, “Golden,” already cresting the top 20 on the pop format. The massive cross-platform success of these songs means Styles has finally and decisively broken into the American market, maneuvering its web of gatekeepers to accumulate 6.2 million consumption units and rising.

    Why do these particular songs resonate in 2020? Styles doesn’t have the faintest idea. While he acknowledges a “nursery rhyme” feel to “Watermelon Sugar” with its earwormy loop of a chorus, that’s about as much insight as he can offer. His longtime collaborator and friend Tom Hull, also known as the producer Kid Harpoon, offers this take: “There’s a lot of amazing things about that song, but what really stands out is the lyric. It’s not trying to hide or be clever. The simplicity of watermelon … there’s such a joy in it, [which] is a massive part of that song’s success.” Also, his kids love it. “I’ve never had a song connect with children in this way,” says Hull, whose credits include tunes by Shawn Mendes, Florence and the Machine and Calvin Harris. “I get sent videos all the time from friends of their kids singing. I have a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old, and they listen to it.”

    Styles is quick to note that he doesn’t chase pop appeal when crafting songs. In fact, the times when he pondered or approved a purposeful tweak, like on his self-titled 2017 debut, still gnaw at him. “I love that album so much because it represents such a time in my life, but when I listen to it — sonically and lyrically, especially — I can hear places where I was playing it safe,” he says. “I was scared to get it wrong.”

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  2. Just now, Habits said:

    Nicolette seems like she is still playing Edie from desperate housewives in the reboot dead2 

    She was playing a bad, 1980s camp character, and not doing it well.
    Elaine has actually drawn inspiration from Joan Collins' portrayal of Alexis, and has rooted the character.

    Not to mention, Hendrix and Liz Gillies look so much alike it is insane!


  3. 1 minute ago, Habits said:

    I am currently rewatching the reboot and damn Fallon is such a slay fall3  Alexis the first two seasons seems kinda bore, she was better in S3 oprah4 

    Fallon is definitely the driving force of the reboot, and in-line with how Fallon was in the original series.
    As for Alexis, I was never sold on Nicolette as Alexis. Elaine Hendrix is the Alexis we deserved from the start!

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