Opinion: Harry Styles Edges Zayn For Best Post-One Direction Debut Single
With four out of five One Direction members issuing debut singles, Harry Styles narrowly edges Zayn for top honors with “Sign of the Times.”
As of publication time, only one member of One Direction – active or former – hasn’t released his debut single. The lone member missing in action is Liam Payne. His time is coming. Until then, One Direction enthusiasts are left to sink their teeth into the music of active, hiatus members Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan, as well as former member, Zayn Malik. After hearing the debut singles from the aforementioned (Zayn released a full-length debut in 2016), who dropped the hottest singles?
1. Harry Styles, “Sign of the Times”
Although Harry Styles just released “Sign of the Times” (April 7, 2017), arguably, it’s the crème de la crème in regards to debut singles from the collective. Styles has a winner on his hands. Although lengthy, his introduction to the world as a solo artist is excellent, thriving off emotion and substance. “Sign of the Times” is heavy, tackling holding in issues, death, and eventual peace. Time will tell if he can experience the success that Zayn has, who had a more commercial debut with “PILLOWTALK.”
Mind of Mine
Zayn, undoubtedly, has experienced the most success outside of One Direction. Arguably, “PILLOWTALK” has a claim at the no. 1 spot on this ranking. Commercially, it is by far the best single of the bunch, reaching no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Why is this gem stuck at no. 2? Harry Styles has a more transcendent message in mind with “Sign of the Times,” while Zayn essentially informs the world of his love of sex.
“In the bed all day, bed all day, bed all day / F*cking and fighting on / It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone / It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone.”
3. Niall Horan, “This Town”
Niall Horan became the second One Direction member to issue a solo single, behind Zayn and ahead of Harry. When “This Town” arrived, it was a pleasant, thoughtful single, but somewhat blasé. After a while, “This Town” grew more personally, showcasing a beautiful vocal by Horan and more mature songwriting than most pop singles. Still, at best, it’s less captivating than the more transcendent “Sign of the Times” or the sensual “PILLOWTALK.” “This Town” peaked at no. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated January 14, 2017.
This seems cruel, doesn’t it? Sorry, Louis (and Steve). First and foremost, there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with “Just Hold On.” It’s a fun and enjoyable through and through. Tomlinson is a great fit for Aoki’s production work, particularly given the exuberance of his tenor. In One Direction, Tomlinson was like the cherry on top, given his youthful sound (despite being the oldest). Why doesn’t “Just Hold On” rank higher? It simply wasn’t the caliber of hit of the preceding singles. “Just Hold On” was only a modest hit, peaking at no. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated December 31, 2016. Furthermore, it’s simply less memorable, despite being fun. Still, it’s respectable by all means.
When Liam Payne issues his debut single, perhaps he causes a shakeup. Arguably, at times, Payne was the one to beat in One Direction. Still, he has a formidable task topping Harry and Zayn. Liam, Harry, and Zayn were the heavy hitters – no disrespect to Niall or Louis.