Fine Line (album)

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Fine Line
Harry Styles - Fine Line.png
Studio album by
Released13 December 2019 (2019-12-13)
GenrePop rock
Length46:37
Label
Producer
Harry Styles chronology
Harry Styles
(2017)
Fine Line
(2019)
Singles from Fine Line
  1. "Lights Up"
    Released: 11 October 2019
  2. "Adore You"
    Released: 6 December 2019
  3. "Falling"
    Released: 7 March 2020
  4. "Watermelon Sugar"
    Released: 15 May 2020
  5. "Golden"
    Released: 23 October 2020
  6. "Treat People with Kindness"
    Released: 9 January 2021

Fine Line is the second studio album by English singer and songwriter Harry Styles, released on 13 December 2019 by Columbia and Erskine Records. The album's themes involve breakups, happiness, and "having sex and feeling sad",[1] as Styles has said himself. The record has been described as pop rock, with elements of prog-pop, psychedelic pop, folk, soul, funk and indie pop.

Supported by six singles—"Lights Up", "Adore You", "Falling", "Watermelon Sugar", "Golden" and "Treat People with Kindness"—Fine Line debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart and number one on the Billboard 200, making it Styles' second consecutive number-one album in the US.[2] The album had the third-largest sales week of 2019 in the US and broke the record as the biggest debut from a British male artist since Nielsen SoundScan began, earning 478,000 album-equivalent units.[2] It has been certified double platinum in the US for combined sales and album-equivalent units of over two million units in the country.

Fine Line received generally positive reviews from music critics, particularly towards its production and stylistic influences. It was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2020 Brit Awards, and for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2021 Grammy Awards. The album has also received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance and a Brit Award for British Single of the Year for "Watermelon Sugar". And "Adore You" in the Best Music Video category. In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked it number 491 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, making it the most recent album to be included.

Background[edit]

In an interview with Rolling Stone released on 26 August 2019, it was reported that the singer was putting the "final touches" on his album which Styles explained was "all about having sex and feeling sad." The album was also described to contain his "toughest, most soulful songs he's written yet."[3] On the direction of his second album, Styles revealed he wanted to be more fun and adventurous compared to his self-titled debut album.[4]

Much of the album was inspired by Styles' split from model Camille Rowe. Following the couple's split, producer and writer Kid Harpoon encouraged Styles to deal with his emotions by writing about them.[5] During the recording Styles was inspired by David Bowie, Van Morrison, Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell. The latter's album Blue (1971) and its use of the dulcimer, particularly influenced the album's musical style. Styles tracked down the woman who built the dulcimer used in Mitchell's album and requested lessons; she would go on to build Styles his own dulcimer which was used during the album's recording.[5] Styles used "mushrooms" during the recording process.[6]

Release and promotion[edit]

The album was released on 13 December 2019, by Columbia and Erskine, Styles's second to be released under the label. The standard edition was released on CD, vinyl, digital download and streaming. The deluxe edition of the album was released on CD on 13 December 2019.[7][8][9] Shortly before release of the album's lead single "Lights Up", the album was promoted by billboards and the caption: "Do You Know Who You Are?" in several cities around the world.[10] Marketing for a tourism agency in Eroda, the fictitious isle Styles' team came up with, began appearing on social media; as well as a website for the isle.[11][12] Styles collaborated with Spotify to organize a fan-exclusive event held at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles for a private listening party, where fans were taken to experience Eroda, an elaborate theme created for his single "Adore You".[13]

Styles promoted the album on the 16 November episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live as both a host and a musical guest.[14] Leading up to the album's release, on 10 December, Styles also served as the guest host on The Late Late Show with James Corden.[15] To celebrate the release and maximize sales of the album, Styles held a one-night-only show at The Forum in Los Angeles that coincided with the album's December 13 release. Styles allowed fans to pre-order his album and rewarded them with a code to have a chance to buy tickets to see him at his one-night-only show for only $25.[16] The show in Los Angeles was followed by another show at the Electric Ballroom in London on 19 December with British rapper Stormzy as a special guest[17] The album will be promoted with Love On Tour.[18]

Singles[edit]

"Lights Up", the lead single from the album, was released on 11 October 2019, debuting at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart.[19][20] The song features a "soft-touch re-entry into the pop slipstream", according to music writer Jon Caramanica.[21] The song debuted at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100.[22]

On 2 December, Styles revealed the trailer for the album's second single, "Adore You". The song and music video were released on 6 December, with the extended version of the music video being narrated by Rosalía.[23] "Adore You" peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his first top-ten single in the country since his solo debut single, "Sign of the Times".[24] In the singer's native, the United Kingdom, the song peaked at number seven.

A music video for "Falling" was released on 28 February.[25] On 7 March 2020, "Falling" was officially released as the third single of the album in the UK.[26] Peaking at number 15 on the UK Singles Chart, the song became Styles third consecutive top-fifteen single from the album. Moreover, it peaked at number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100.[27]

"Watermelon Sugar" was released as the album's fourth single on 15 May 2020. It was originally released as a promotional single on 16 November 2019;[28] Styles performed "Watermelon Sugar" on Saturday Night Live.[29][30] Peaking at number four on the UK Singles Chart, the song became Styles third top-ten single from the album.[27] Additionally, it peaked at number one in the US, making it his first number one single in the country.[31]

"Golden" impacted US adult pop radio formats on 26 October 2020 and Top 40 on the following day as the album's fifth single.[32][33]

On 1 January 2021, Styles released a music video for "Treat People with Kindness" co-starring actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge.[34] The song later impacted UK radio on 9 January 2021 as the album's sixth single.[35]

Musical style[edit]

Fine Line is primarily a pop rock record[36][37] that incorporates elements of prog-pop, psychedelic pop, folk, soul, funk and indie pop.[36][37][38][39]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.2/10[40]
Metacritic76/100[41]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[42]
The A.V. ClubB+[36]
The Daily Telegraph3/5 stars[43]
The Guardian4/5 stars[44]
The Independent4/5 stars[45]
NME4/5 stars[46]
Now4/5 stars[47]
Pitchfork6.0/10[37]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[48]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[49]

Fine Line received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from professional critics, the album has an average score of 76 out of 100, based on 20 reviews.[41]

Gregory Robinson, writing for The Guardian, regarded the album as "confident, convincing and catchy."[50] Alexandra Pollard of The Independent stated that "it may not reach the pinnacle of sex or sadness, but Fine Line is a fine album nonetheless."[45] Hannah Mylrea of NME found the album to be "a total joy", calling it "an elegant combination of the ex-boybander's influences, slick modern pop and his own roguish charm."[46] Rea McNamara of NOW Magazine praised Styles' decision to lean towards "ebullient, soulful pop" while naming "Sunflower, Vol. 6" as the album's best track.[47] Writing for Rolling Stone, Nick Catucci deemed the album "excellent" and felt that "if there’s a nontoxic masculinity, Harry Styles just might’ve found it."[48] David Smyth of The Evening Standard remarked that while Styles' music can not "live up to the sparkling imagery of his press profiles", his second album makes "a strong argument for being the most interesting boy band escapee yet."[51]

Jon Pareles of The New York Times described the production as a "tour-de-force" and complimented how "Styles exults in sound, not image."[52] Chris Willman of Variety commented that, contrary to Style's description of the record, the sensuality and melancholy are "a little on the muted side", while Styles is "still stuck" in the classic rock era that he "casually [claims] as his own."[38] Bryan Rolli of Consequence of Sound called Fine Line an "airy, melancholy album that diplomatically addresses heartache while declining to wallow in it", complimenting his more honest songwriting but lamenting the lack of energy in his vocal performance.[53] The Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick characterised the album as "charming but inconsequential",[43] while Mark Richardson of The Wall Street Journal described it as "earnest, forthright and delivered with polish", but "more imitative than original" and offering "no fresh perspective".[54] In a mixed review, Jeremy D. Larson of Pitchfork described the "actual sound" of Fine Line as "incredible" as Styles' influences permeate the record, but considered his songwriting shallow and lacking in imagination.[37] Tom Hull wrote similarly that it "seems pointless even when he comes up with something catchy – actually, the catchier, the more annoying it gets."[55]

Year-end lists[edit]

Year-end lists for Fine Line
Publication List Rank Ref.
Esquire 50 Best Albums of 2019 No rank given
GQ The albums that made 2019 great again
"Special Mention"
Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2019
23
Uproxx The Best Albums Of 2020
19

All-time lists[edit]

All-time lists for Fine Line
Publication List Rank Ref.
Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 491

Accolades[edit]

Awards for Fine Line
Year Ceremony Category Result Ref.
2020 Brit Awards Album of the Year Nominated [61]
BreakTudo Awards (Brazil) Nominated [62]
American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Album Won [63]
ARIA Music Awards Best International Artist (Fine Line) Won [64]
Danish Music Awards International Album of the Year Nominated [65]
LOS40 Music Awards Nominated [66]
2021 Grammy Awards Best Pop Vocal Album Nominated [67]
Juno Awards International Album of the Year Won [68]

Commercial performance[edit]

Fine Line debuted atop the US Billboard 200 with 478,000 album-equivalent units (of which 393,000 are pure sales) in the week ending December 19. It marked the biggest week for a pop album by a male artist in over four years. Fine Line also achieved the largest sales week from a British male artist since Nielsen SoundScan began, and made him the first UK male artist to debut at number one with first two albums. The album's tracks earned a total of 108.7 million on-demand US streams in its first week.[69] In its second week, the album remained at number one on the chart, selling an additional 89,000 album equivalent units consisting of 47,000 pure album sales, and becoming the first pop album to spend two weeks at number one since Ed Sheeran's No.6 Collaborations Project in August 2019.[70] According to Nielsen year-end report, Fine Line was the fifth-best selling album of the year in pure sales, with 458,000 copies—of which 354,000 were physical copies.[71] In its third week, the album dropped to number four on the chart, earning 54,000 more units that week.[72] In its fourth week, the album climbed to number three on the chart, earning 49,000 more units.[73] On January 8, 2021, the album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for combined sales and album-equivalent units of two million units in the United States.[74] As of December 2020, it had sold over 2,081,033 album-equivalent units.[75]

After debuting at number 3 on the UK Album Charts in December 2019, the album peaked at number 2 in its 56th week in the top 100 on 14 January 2021 (week ending) behind Taylor Swift's Evermore.[76] As of March 2021 the album has earned combined 406,813 units sold in United Kingdom with 43,735 sales earned in 2021. Overall the album has sold 111,944 physical copies, 18,540 downloads and earned 276,329 equivalent sales from streams in United Kingdom.[77]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[78]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Golden"3:28
2."Watermelon Sugar"
  • Styles
  • Hull
  • Johnson
  • Rowland
  • Kid Harpoon
  • Johnson
2:53
3."Adore You"
  • Kid Harpoon
  • Johnson[c]
3:27
4."Lights Up"
  • Styles
  • Hull
  • Johnson
  • Johnson
  • Kid Harpoon[a]
2:52
5."Cherry"
  • Johnson
  • Witte
  • Kid Harpoon[a]
4:19
6."Falling"
  • Styles
  • Hull
  • Kid Harpoon
  • Johnson[a]
4:00
7."To Be So Lonely"
  • Styles
  • Hull
  • Rowland
  • Johnson
  • Kid Harpoon
  • Johnson
3:12
8."She"
  • Styles
  • Hull
  • Rowland
  • Bhasker
  • Kid Harpoon
  • Johnson[c]
6:02
9."Sunflower, Vol. 6"
Kurstin3:41
10."Canyon Moon"
  • Styles
  • Hull
  • Rowland
  • Kid Harpoon
  • Johnson[a]
3:09
11."Treat People with Kindness"
Bhasker3:17
12."Fine Line"
  • Styles
  • Hull
  • Rowland
  • Johnson
  • Witte
  • Kid Harpoon
  • Johnson
6:17
Total length:46:37

Notes[edit]

  • ^[a] indicates an additional producer
  • ^[c] indicates a co-producer

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[78]

  • Harry Styles – lead vocals (all tracks), background vocals (tracks 1–10, 12), dulcimer (track 10), acoustic guitar (track 12)
  • Kid Harpoon (Thomas Hull) – production (tracks 2, 6–8, 10, 12), co-production (track 1), additional production (tracks 4, 5), electric guitar (tracks 2–4, 8, 10), acoustic guitar (tracks 1, 2, 10, 12), background vocals (tracks 1, 2, 7), moog bass (tracks 1, 6, 7), piano (tracks 2, 6, 8), bass (tracks 3, 5, 10), keyboards (tracks 3, 8, 10), drums (tracks 3, 9), engineering & drum programming (track 3), organ (track 6)
  • Tyler Johnson – production (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 12), co-production (tracks 3, 8), additional production (tracks 6, 10), keyboards (tracks 1–5, 12), background vocals (tracks 1, 2, 4, 7), drum programming (tracks 3, 4), engineering, drums, bass & acoustic guitar (track 4), programming & electric guitar (track 5), mixing (track 7) piano & moog bass (track 12)
  • Mitch Rowland – electric guitar (tracks 1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 12), drums (tracks 1, 2, 7, 8, 12), slide guitar (tracks 1, 2, 5, 10), acoustic guitar (tracks 7, 10), glockenspiel (track 1), background vocals (track 7)
  • Sammy Witte – engineering (tracks 1, 2, 4–8, 10, 12), production & acoustic guitar (track 5), background vocals (track 7)
  • Spike Stent – mixing (tracks 1–3, 5, 6, 8–12)
  • Michael Freeman – mixing assistance (tracks 1–3, 7, 8, 10, 12)
  • Greg Kurstin – production, engineering, bass, drums, guitar, organ, clav & electric sitar (track 9)
  • Jeff Bhasker – piano (tracks 8, 11), production, strings arrangement, strings conducting, background vocals, mellotron (track 11)
  • Jeremy Hatcher – engineering (tracks 3, 4), engineering assistance (tracks 1, 5, 7, 8)
  • Mark Rankin – engineering (tracks 2, 5, 7, 8), additional engineering (track 1)
  • Nick Lobel – engineering (tracks 2, 4), additional engineering (tracks 1, 7), mixing (track 7)
  • Oli Jacobs – engineering assistance (tracks 1, 2, 5, 7, 12)
  • Oli Middleton – engineering assistance (tracks 1, 2, 5, 7, 12)
  • Jon Castelli – additional engineering (tracks 1, 7), mixing (track 4), drum programming (track 7)
  • Rob Bisel – engineering (track 5), engineering assistance (tracks 1, 5, 8)
  • Kevin Smith – engineering assistance (tracks 1, 5, 7, 8)
  • Tyler Beans – engineering assistance (tracks 1, 5, 8)
  • Dylan Neustadter – engineering assistance (tracks 1, 5, 8)
  • Ivan Jackson – horns (tracks 2, 4, 12)
  • Matt Tuggle – engineering assistance (tracks 2–4)
  • Dan Ewins – engineering assistance (tracks 2, 6, 12)
  • Aaron Sterling – drums (tracks 5, 7), percussion (track 7)
  • Gabe Noelcello, double bass & sarangi (track 7)
  • Morgan Kibby – keyboards, moog bass & background vocals (track 12)
  • Leo Abrahams – electric guitar (tracks 1, 6)
  • Pino Palladino– bass (tracks 2, 8)
  • Davey Chegwidden – percussion (tracks 2, 10)
  • Jason White – choir contracting (track 4), choir conducting (track 11)
  • Nikki Grier (Nikisha Daniel) – choir vocals (tracks 4, 11)
  • Tiffany Smith – choir vocals (tracks 4, 11)
  • Tiffany Stevenson – choir vocals (tracks 4, 11)
  • Brandon Winbush – choir vocals (tracks 4, 11)
  • David Campbell – strings arrangement (track 5), orchestra arrangement (track 12)
  • Sarah Jones – background vocals (track 2)
  • Amy Allen – background vocals (track 3)
  • Ian Fitchuk – congas (track 4)
  • Matthew Wallick – engineering assistance (track 4)
  • Ingmar Carlson – mixing assistance (track 4)
  • James Gadson – drums (track 8)
  • Julian Burg – engineering (track 9)
  • Alex Pasco – engineering (track 9)
  • John Carroll Kirby – keyboards (track 10)
  • Jess Wolfe – vocals (track 11)
  • Holly Laessig – vocals (track 11)
  • Jason Morales – choir vocals (track 11)
  • Nick Movshon – bass (track 11)
  • Laurence Juber – Electric guitar (track 11)
  • Homer Steinweiss – drums (track 11)
  • Serena Goransson – violin (track 11)
  • Tereza Stanislav – violin (track 11)
  • Jonathan Moerschel – viola (track 11)
  • Jacob Braun – cello (track 11)
  • Elizabeth Pupo-Walker – congas (track 11)
  • Jens Jungkurth – engineering (track 11)
  • Ryan Nasci – engineering (track 11)
  • Molly Hawkins – creative director
  • Randy Merrillmastering
  • Hélène Pambrun – photography
  • Tim Walker – photography
  • Bradley Pinkerton – graphic design

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[143] Platinum 70,000double-dagger
Belgium (BEA)[144] Gold 15,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[145] 3× Platinum 120,000double-dagger
Canada (Music Canada)[146] 2× Platinum 160,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[147] 2× Platinum 40,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[148] Gold 50,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[149] Platinum 50,000double-dagger
Mexico (AMPROFON)[150] 2× Platinum 120,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[151] 3× Platinum 45,000double-dagger
Norway (IFPI Norway)[152] Platinum 20,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[153] 2× Platinum 40,000double-dagger
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[154][155] Platinum 40,000double-dagger
Sweden (GLF)[156] Platinum 30,000double-dagger
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[157] Gold 10,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[160] Platinum 424,227[159]
United States (RIAA)[161] 2× Platinum 878,000[A]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Notes[edit]

  • ^[A] : Sales amount of US was calculated from 2019 and 2020 MRC data year-end reports.[162][163]

Release history[edit]

Release formats for Fine Line
Region Date Format Edition Label Ref.
Various 13 December 2019 Standard
[7][8][164]
CD Deluxe [165]
11 December 2020 LP First anniversary vinyl box set [166]

References[edit]

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