As an Australian with a deep, intolerable twang, I am in no spot to comment on anyone else’s accent. I know this. But it seems fans are convinced something is going on with Harry Styles‘ accent and I want to get to the bottom of it.
Just from a linguistics perspective, OK? It’s for science. Prepare your investigative pinboard, because we’re going deep.
The year was 2010, and fresh-faced 16 year old Harry ‘Bakery Boy’ Styles was waiting patiently in line to audition for The X Factor. Also we know it’s 2010 for sure because Harry is wearing a thin scarf for fashion and no one has ever done that in a year that was *not* 2010.
Harry was interviewed by the roaming host of the show, who for the purposes of this investigation we will name Basil because I do not have time to look up his name, I’m on a deadline here.
It is in this exchange, assumedly Harry’s first ever televised interview, that we hear the original, disarmingly earnest Harry Styles Accent (TM) for the first time. And boy is it British.
Or should I say, “Bri’ish!”
I was half-expecting him to break into song – not in the way that he *literally* broke into song in front of Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger and the other one (Louis Walsh). More in a Mary Poppins, chimney sweep step-in-time on the rooftops of London kinda break into song, know what I mean?
Anyway. Now we have our baseline Harry accent, which is decidedly British, let us investigate further.
Fast forward to 2022. Harry was recently interviewed by Zane Lowe where they discussed Harry’s new album Harry’s House. Since the interview dropped, fans have been commenting on Harry’s baffling accent.
@etcanada We’re NOT ok😭 #harrystyles opens up to #zanelowe about the deep love he has for his #onedirection bandmates and shares why he feels so lucky to have come up with them🎤 #1d #interview #celebrity ♬ original sound – ET Canada
“Am I the only one that thinks his accent is changing?” said one commenter.
“He needs to move back to the UK immediately, he’s losing his accent,” said another.
I’m gonna be honest here. His accent has definitely changed. I’m no linguist (well, I may be a cunning one, heh) but like many commenters I too noticed his vowel shapes are different. At one point in the interview he says “glass” not “glah-ss” and I swear I heard a million anglophiles’ hearts break in two.
Truthfully though, his accent is not totally unrecognisable from what we hear in that fateful clip from 2010. It’s just giving someone who has lived overseas for a while and is slowly picking up the accent of the place he’s been. When he goes back to the UK, his accent might even follow suit.
Think like, the girl who went to Europe on exchange at uni and came back wearing a beret for a few weeks. It’s probably not permanent, and it’ll probably come off eventually if everyone else isn’t wearing one.
Stan culture encourages us to develop strong parasocial relationships to the celebrities we adore and Harry Styles is one of the most adored pop stars in the world right now. Fans don’t want to believe that the person they love is changing, or slipping out of their perceived grasp, which is why I think people are sad that Harry’s accent is a little different.
It’s seen as a kind of loss, and TBH, that’s understandable. All change is a form of loss. I bet you didn’t expect this article to get philosophical now did you? Me neither babe but I’m running on about five coffees and a prayer right now.
Let’s establish the results of our investigation, shall we?
Harry Styles’ accent has changed a little bit because he lives and works in America. When he comes back to England it’ll probably go back to what it was.
Case closed. Don’t forget to stream Harry’s House tomorrow.