While Harry Styles may be used to performing to sold-out stadiums filled with thousands of screaming fans, the singer is well-versed in catering to a small crowd. Styles did just that in his performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk. Armed with an acoustic guitar, Styles filled the room with renditions of his songs “Cherry,” “Watermelon Sugar,” “To Be So Lonely,” and “Adore You.”
Opening with “Cherry,” Harry Styles strips down his expansive sophomore record Fine Line, opting for a more coffee house version. Styles harmonizes his melodies with the rest of his backing band, even adding some country twang and intricate percussion to his pop hits.
Before playing a rendition of “Watermelon Sugar,” Styles explained how the song came to be. “We had this idea and we had this chorus melody and it just kind of was pretty repetitive,” he said. “The Richard Brautigan book ‘In Watermelon Sugar’ was on the table. And I was like, ‘That would sound cool.’ So, this song became ‘Watermelon Sugar.’ It’s probably the longest it’s ever taken me to finish a song. We kind of liked it when we first had it then I really hated it for a long time.”
Styles added: “It’s kind of about that initial euphoria of when you start seeing someone, you start sleeping with someone, or being around someone and you have that excitement about them.”
With “To Be So Lonely,” Styles opts to forgo an instrument entirely, relying on the rhythmic plucking of a ukulele to provide a backdrop for his crooning vocals.
Ending his four-song set with the hit “Adore You,” Styles explains the song is, similarly to “Watermelon Sugar,” about the initial excitement of meeting someone you like. In the stripped-down rendition, a bass guitar provides much of the groove while Styles belts out the lyrics alongside a piano’s gentle melody.
Watch Harry Styles on Tiny Desk above.