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Reflecting on Harry Styles’ Artist of the Year win at the Brit Awards

| Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Maria Gorecki | The Observer

On Saturday, Harry Styles attended the Brit Awards — now several years after going solo — to accept Artist of the Year. Around this same time 10 years ago, all five members of One Direction took the stage to accept the Global Success Award following a wild year of touring and new music. Styles had much to say this weekend as he added to his ever-growing list of accolades, and fans were quick to pick up on it. 

After taking home three wins at the 2023 Grammy Awards, Styles faced backlash for saying that “this doesn’t happen to people like me very often.” As a white, cisgender male in a notoriously patriarchal industry, many found his statement to be tone-deaf. However, Styles clarified this past weekend that he is “very aware of his privilege” in his response to the firm public reaction. With no women nominated for the category, although eligible and deserving, many felt slighted by the academy once again. Harry ended his speech by dedicating his award to Becky Hill, Florence and the Machine, Mabel, Charlie XCX and Rina Sawayama — female artists that many deemed worthy of being nominated. However, Styles didn’t end there. 

The boyband One Direction became a worldwide sensation in 2010 after being grouped together on popular British TV show “The X-Factor,” and their rise to stardom never slowed. However, after their split in 2016, fans have been attentive to any and all interactions between the members. 

While there were many notable parts of Styles’ speech, the crowd erupted after he thanked his former bandmates Liam, Niall, Louis and Zayn. All members pursued solo careers after their split, remaining attached to music in one way or another and taking time to build their lives beyond the band. To fans, however, it often feels as though the members aren’t nearly as close as they used to be, and their splintered relationships seem to be the only coverage they get nowadays. Zayn Malik, the catalyst of their disbandment, left the group first and faced heat following his decision.

While it’s a touchy subject for the group, Styles looks fondly upon his days in One Direction. He even thanked his mother in his speech for “signing him up for X-Factor” because he wouldn’t have made it to such a stage if she hadn’t. Fans were not only caught off guard at Styles’ mention of One Direction at the awards, but they were also struck with the nostalgia of the moment. With the fandom still strong several years later, “Directioners” hold tight to the hope that the group may one day reunite. 

In the meantime, Styles’ solo career continues to grow as he adds to his discography, most recently with his albums “Harry’s House” and “Fine Line.” Within the past couple years, Harry Styles has been incredibly active, working to build his own image in the entertainment world. Liam Payne and Niall Horan took to Twitter to congratulate him on his win and — although the others haven’t said anything publicly — fans are hopeful that they at least saw it. Not only did Harry’s ode to One Direction warm the hearts of fans all over the world, but his speech highlighted just how much he has accomplished within his career thus far, both alone and as a former member of one of the world’s biggest boy bands.

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