If it weren’t for COVID-19 pressing pause on live music and swiftly crushing my dreams, Harry Styles would be bringing ‘Love on Tour 2020’ down under this month. So, left with nothing but tickets to both of his postponed Sydney shows, what else am I to do but religiously rewatch and rank Styles’ entire music video catalogue?
The British heartthrob has released seven music videos since One Direction wrapped up and he went solo. Given that he is an unparalleled musical savant who can do no wrong in my eyes, it’s a struggle not to award 10s across the board.
But with that being said and in order of ‘Great But Slightly Less Amazing’ to ‘Total Spiritual Experience’, please enjoy this unabashedly biased ranking of Harry Styles’ music videos.
It feels sacrilegious to place any Harry Styles’ video in the bottom spot, but it’s a necessary evil that we must face on this journey. Despite being a fan favourite from his 2017 self-titled debut and an undeniable showstopper on his live setlist, the music video for ‘Kiwi’ is fun but doesn’t quite live up to the song’s hype.
Don’t get me wrong, watching a bunch of impeccably dressed school kids pummel each other with cupcakes in an epic food fight is entertaining. However, I’ll chalk my decision up to the fact that Harold isn’t actually present for the majority of the video. Although we have to give props to Styles’ mini doppelganger and badass ‘Kiwi’ protagonist Beau Gadson. I will say that when he does finally grace us with his presence, Styles is cradling a puppy and sporting a magnificent cerulean Gucci suit. So, ‘Kiwi’ does pick up a couple of extra brownie points there.
‘Falling’ is a flawless breakup ballad and a standout on the Fine Line tracklist. It’s heavy on piano, clean vocals and incredibly earnest lyrics. Directed by Dave Meyers (the mastermind behind ‘Bad Guy’ and ‘God Is A Woman’), the music video is equal parts heartbreaking and beautiful.
Set in a Parisian château, it begins with Styles contemplating a glass of brown liquor while he sits at a grand piano that’s pooling with water. As the song builds up, the instrument begins to overflow and fill the room until he is fully submerged underwater. It makes for a haunting visual as furniture floats by and his pale, purple Victorian blouse swirls around him while he continues to sing and play his heart out.
At around 2:13, you can spot a clever Easter Egg that is rumoured to reference Styles’ split with American French model Camille Rowe. The windows fly open to reveal a silhouette of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. It’s poetic, dramatic and breaks my cold, dead heart. So, why isn’t it higher on the list? I just don’t like seeing him sad. Ok?
5. Lights Up
The music video for ‘Lights Up’ has lived rent-free in my mind for the last 12 months and I’m ready to extend the lease. Styles’ music videos had been relatively PG up until this point, but the debut single from Fine Line was the first time we saw the pop star flirt with something a little more risque. Much to the internet’s delight, it’s essentially 2 minutes and 55 seconds of a sweaty and shirtless Styles being caressed by an adoring sea of beautiful people. In short, ‘Lights Up’ walked so ‘Watermelon Sugar’ could run.
My thirstiness aside, it’s a striking and moodily lit masterpiece. In its more abstract moments, we see Harry riding a motorbike backwards at night and bathed in crimson light while wearing a sequined suit in a pool of water. Directed by Vincent Haycock, it helped set the bar high for the visual execution we could expect from the rest of the record.
‘Golden’ is the latest gem from Fine Line and is the stuff Pinterest mood boards are made of. It’s a warm and joyful jaunt that transports us to a balmy Italian summer. Shot on the lush Amalfi Coast, the video dances between playful scenes of sun-soaked bliss. It opens with Styles sprinting through the seaside town of Maiori in slow motion and cruising in a vintage convertible.
Later he dives into crystalline waters and dances dorkily down the street sporting a gorgeous mint green blazer and lace gloves. You can’t help but grin along with him as he plays with the camera, splashes in rock pools and literally stops traffic by lounging on some lucky driver’s bonnet. It may not be laden with rich concepts and complex metaphors, but sometimes a cheeky Harry Styles wearing a yellow rain hat by the sea is all that you need.
3. Sign of the Times
‘Sign of the Times’ is Harry’s first solo music video and remains one of his most impactful tracks yet. The video opens with a coat-clad Harry singing moodily into the camera on the edge of a rugged coastal cliff. You could easily dismiss it as a typical ballad music video until his boots begin to float above the grass and he takes flight when the chorus kicks in.
The landscape offers a breathtaking backdrop as he flies above forests, soars over mountains and walks on water. This last part confirms my theory that he is indeed an angel among us mere mortals. It’s magical, fantastical and a creative avenue that we hadn’t seen him explore before this point. As he roars, “We got to get away”, the video closes with Harry’s silhouette ascending into the sunset-hued clouds. The experience is nothing short of divine.
2. Adore You
Most of Styles’ solo music videos are whimsical in their own way, but ‘Adore You’ is the most wonderfully weird. Also directed by Meyers and narrated by Rosalia, the cinematography of the 7-minute extended clip is more akin to a short indie film than a pop music video.
If you’re not familiar with the plot, buckle in and try to keep up: ‘Adore You’ is set on the fictional Isle of Eroda. It’s a tiny frown-shaped island populated by grumpy and deeply suspicious townsfolk. Born with a blindingly bright smile, Styles’ character is shunned and forced to live as an outcast. That is until he discovers and befriends a fascinating North African Jewel-Coat fish.
Their friendship quickly flourishes. Styles sings to him, knits a fish in his image and they share some tacos and dance atop a hill together. But as the fish grows bigger every day, Styles struggles to find vessels to keep him safe. Realising the fish belongs at home, he eventually elects the help of his neighbours to return his friend to the sea.
It’s totally bizarre but also deeply heartwarming. At its core, it’s a tale of friendship and belonging. There’s also nothing more charming than Harry Styles serenading a fish and I think that alone is enough to secure its spot in second place.
1. Watermelon Sugar
Watermelon fucking Sugar. There’s no other way to crown this list. I mean, Harry Styles wearing a crop top and rose-tinted heart-shaped glasses while suggestively chomping into a watermelon at the beach? Someone has been reading my diary.
When the video dropped in May, its softcore sensibilities and not-so-subtle innuendos sent millions (myself included) into cardiac arrest. Although Styles has remained relatively coy about the song’s deeper meaning, the music video leaves us with more than enough to fill in the blanks. It’s a technicoloured homage to oral sex and a pre-pandemic world where touching wasn’t taboo. God bless this human.
‘Watermelon Sugar’ feels like a full-circle moment with several cute nods to his past career highlights. The breakfast table is set with the sail from the boat in ‘Adore You’. The final shot is reminiscent of the school photo in ‘Kiwi’. And it was filmed on the same Malibu shoreline as One Direction’s iconic ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ video.
‘Watermelon Sugar’ is carefree, nostalgic and showcases Styles at his most confident and charismatic. We bloody love to see it.
Well, there you have it. Our very own unofficial and gushing ranking of Harry Styles’ music videos. Want to make up your own mind? Sit back, relax and enjoy his music video library in its entirety here. Then, head here to enjoy Harry Style’s complete audio collection.