Harry Styles had his moment of solo stardom with his debut album and two tour leg announcements. Now, it’s Niall Horan’s turn.
Horan is the easygoing, sweet member of the boy band One Direction. After Zayn Malik departed the group in 2015, the band decided to take an indefinite hiatus to focus on their personal lives and solo careers. Slowly, each member branched out. The wake of drama from Malik’s departure crafted ZAYN: bad-boy villain and R&B prince. Louis Tomlinson settled into a pop and EDM front with features from Steve Aoki and the latest: Bebe Rexha. A tour rumor is floating on the way for him in 2018. Liam Payne steered into a pop and hip-hop route with light club bangers such as “Strip That Down.” Styles returned to rock god origins for an impressive beginning to a rockstar/popstar solo career. Many of them broke up or began relationships without the consistent One Direction obligations. Some even had children.
Where did this leave Irishman Horan? Though he might come off as the most forgettable member with a boy-next-door charm and short list of public drama, Horan managed to produce something quite the opposite. ZAYN and Styles might take up the forefront of solo career potential, but Horan is close behind. His style leans more singer-songwriter: a little pop, a little country, a little R&B twang. Sickly sweet and then sensual. His debut album Flicker is set to drop October 20th. Following suit of Styles, he announced an intimate venues tour leg titled “Flicker Sessions 2017.” Then, a bigger 2018 tour leg announcement followed. The surprising twist here is that country singer Maren Morris will open the 2018 leg, and Styles similarly asked Kacey Musgraves to open for his 2018 stadium leg.
Horan’s charm and differentiation from the other members is his “lil’ ol’ me” attitude. And that’s not a self-debilitating observation. Instead of coming off as a lack of confidence or passion, Horan’s personality instead exudes goodness. Pure goodness, almost like taking a vitamin or having a glass of orange juice. A listener doesn’t feel mixed up in the complicated depths of a flawed rockstar when listening to Horan. It’s a hard reputation to keep in tact and hints at popstars such as Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift who brand themselves as good girls. The wholesome image has worked for him well so far. It opposes Styles’ Mic-Jagger lookalike and ZAYN’s brooding artist. As he said in his 2017 Billboard cover story, “I’m quite a simple old soul, me.”
After One Direction went on hiatus, Horan went on hiatus, as well. He and his cousins backpacked around Southeast Asia. Without so much as a shirt on his back, Horan experienced the “study abroad” freedom that he couldn’t experience under the rigorous schedule of One Direction. After returning, he worked on his debut album before realizing that most of it wasn’t up to songwriting par. He went back to the roots and started over.
Fans got a taste of his solo career with his first solo single “This Town” in late 2016. Scattered live performances at festivals have occupied his solo live performance space. There wouldn’t be another single for months, as Horan worked through his new sound. He wanted it to be less boyish pop of Charlie Puth and Shawn Mendes and One Direction. Less soupy, singer-songwriter pop of Ed Sheeran and James Blunt. More some genre-crossbend in between.
“Slow Hands” dropped in May 2017. For anyone who was worried Horan would float on a sappy, light pink cloud of unoriginality throughout his album, the second single proved them wrong. Country pop twanged with a hint of R&B, “Slow Hands” was everything your mother told you you can’t listen to and everything 1D shied away from due to their young fan base and those mothers. It’s about going home with someone encapsulated by the line “sweat dripping down our dirty laundry.” It showed fans that he is a twentysomething experiencing what young adults do, and the 1D filter was turned off.
Horan announced his album Flicker (due Oct. 20th) the same day he dropped his third single “Too Much To Ask.” This veered back towards the pop singer-songwriter ballad route. It’s the moment that a relationship is over, and the mixed feelings of missing an ex and knowing the relationship no longer exists. There are serious notes of reflection, nostalgia, and introspection in his new music so far. Horan will undoubtedly spend a lot of the album tying the loose ends of old relationships and diving into the new solo career chapter.
Horan is on tour at small venues in 2017 from late October to late November. Then, he embarks on his 2018 U.S. tour leg at bigger venues starting in July and going until September.
Niall Horan 2018 North American Tour Dates:
7/18: Woodlands, TX @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion presented by Huntsman
7/20: Dallas, TX* @ Starplex Pavilion
7/21: Rogers, AR @ Walmart AMP
7/23: Nashville, TN @ Ascend Amphitheater
7/25: Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center
7/26: Tinley Park, IL @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre (Chicago)
7/28: Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center
7/30: Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre
7/31: Nampa, ID @ Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater
8/2: Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheatre
8/4: Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheatre
8/5: Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheatre
8/7: Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre
8/17: Chula Vista, CA @ Mattress Firm Amphitheatre
8/20: Morrison, CO** @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
8/22: Kansas City, MO @ Starlight Theatre
8/23: St. Paul, MN @ Minnesota State Fair
8/25: Maryland Heights, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre (St. Louis)
8/26: Noblesville, IN @ Klipsch Music Center
8/28: Clarkston, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
8/29: Cuyahoga Falls, OH @ Blossom Music Center
8/31: Bristow, VA @ Jiffy Lube Live
9/2: Allentown, PA @ The Great Allentown Fair
9/5: Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage
9/7: Darien Center, NY @ Darien Lake Amphitheater
9/8: Mansfield, MA @ Xfinity Center
9/11: Camden, NJ @ BB&T Pavilion
9/12: Wantagh, NY @ Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
9/14: Hartford, CT @ XFINITY Theatre
9/15: Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
9/17: Raleigh, NC @ Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
9/19: Charlotte, NC @ PNC Music Pavilion
9/20: Alpharetta, GA @ Verizon Amphitheatre
9/22: Tampa, FL* @ MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State Fairgrounds
9/23: West Palm Beach, FL @ Coral Sky Amphitheatre at the S. Florida Fairgrounds