Harry Styles nearly broke Ticketmaster on Thursday morning, when tickets to his exclusive performance before his Fine Line tour went on sale for only $25, with a presale code available for early access.
Styles, a beloved pop singer who's rebranded himself from boy band heartthrob to quasi-indie solo phenomenon, purposefully had the tickets marked down without service fees in order to make them more accessible to fans of his pearl earring-wearing, looks-great-in-sheer, could-be-bisexual persona. Sadly, after the online queue reached over 2,000, tickets sold out, leaving thousands of fans disappointed and making lucky opportunists richer, terrible people.
After a sensational feature interview with Rolling Stone in August, Harry Styles is the unholy amalgamation of a millennial Beatle, sad boy, and hedonistic, satyr-like cult leader. His psychedelic description of Fine Line is simply: "It's all about having sex and feeling sad...We'd do mushrooms, lie down on the grass, and listen to Paul McCartney's Ram in the sunshine," he said of his creative process. "This is where I was standing when we were doing mushrooms and I bit off the tip of my tongue. So I was trying to sing with all this blood gushing out of my mouth. So many fond memories, this place."
So on Thursday, thousands flocked to Ticketmaster to be close to their maybe-bisexual, gender fluid god. But soon, the $25 tickets were gone and being sold secondhand for as much as $800 online. The show in question was a special concert event and part of an exclusive promotion. Only fans who pre-ordered Style's album received the coveted presale code: "Harry Styles has returned with a new album titled Fine Line, release date of December 13th, 2019. To celebrate the occasion, he is doing a one-night concert at The Forum in Inglewood, California. To get presale code access to the One Night Only show, you must preorder Harry's new album from his official website before 10pm PST on November 6th, 2019."
But, of course, the set up wasn't perfect from the start. Namely, many code recipients reported that when they awoke and logged on as early as 5 am, they were placed in the back of the queue, regardless of whether or not they possessed the code. This resulted in many presale codes being wasted, as tickets were purchased by many who hadn't spent nearly $100 in Styles merchandise beforehand.
Clearly, buyers beware when it comes to sponsoring your favorite artists' album bundles. As a marketing tactic, the deals can manipulate charts or be plain cash grabs to sell extra merchandise, especially in the streaming era when album sales often suffer. As Rolling Stone noted about album bundles linking clothing merchandise with record units, "Bundling has become increasingly pervasive, even on a modest scale. The goal is to boost both chart position — Billboard counts bundled sales in many cases — and revenue: In the streaming era, the margin on selling music has shrunk, but there is still profit to be made from selling clothing."
Buzz Angle / Rolling Stone
And there's hope to boost flagging album sales if they're bundled with a special code for a "One Night Only" concert. This is especially true when album sales are dropping every year—as much as 18.2% from the previous year, like they did in 2018, according to Rolling Stone. Additionally, "song sales fell 28.8 percent, according to U.S. year-end report figures from data company BuzzAngle, which tracks music consumption. Meanwhile, total on-demand music streams, including both audio and video, shot up 35.4 percent."
Obviously, Harry Styles is not personally responsible for a glitchy presale plan that sent his fans into a frenzy, turned Ticketmaster into a target of Twitter hate, and made ticket scalpers very rich. But he did have the power to set ticket prices as low as $25, which suggests that his witchy powers have sway over his marketing team, if he's willing to use them.
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Watch Fritz perform at 3PM on Popdust's livestream on Saturday, May 30th.
Fritz Hutchison just released his debut album, Wild Wild Acres.
It's the kind of album that will make you want to lounge in a hammock all day or ride a horse across the country or just drop everything and howl at the moon—it sounds like that kind of freedom. Hutchison is alternatively blunt and sincere, a trickster with a performative flair and a penchant for sunny hooks.
Gender and sexuality is a performance, but there's no script.
Harry Styles has kept fans waiting for new music for quite a while, but he certainly did not disappoint with his first single since 2017's "Sign of the Times."
"Lights Up" is a frothy, effortless indie pop number that places Styles' flawless vocals above a funky bassline and dreamy guitar flourishes. It feels infused with the kind of energy that citrus skincare advertisements promise you, but its substance and nuance extend much further than skin-deep.
The song builds up to clusters of harmonies and gospel choirs, wound together with delicate piano. At three minutes, it's a short, concise, and crisp collage of modern and vintage sounds that show off Styles' versatility as well as his expert pop sensibility.
Lyrically, it's all over the place, and since the moment it was released, fans have been reading into its possible implications. Some proposed that the lyrics "I'm not ever going back" are referring to Styles' decision to never return to his One Direction boy band days.
Others think that this is Styles' official declaration of his bisexuality (it is National Coming Out Day, after all). Styles has never explicitly confirmed his sexual orientation, and in 2017, he told The Sun that he doesn't use labels. "No, I've never felt the need to really. No…I don't feel like it's something I've ever felt like I have to explain about myself," he said.
His lyrics have insinuated bisexual themes before. In the song Medicine, he sang, "Tingle running through my bones / The boys and the girls are in / I mess around with him / And I'm okay with it."
Perhaps Styles is smart to avoid labeling his sexuality. Recently, there has been extensive debate about the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality, a difference that largely boils down to semantics and individual interpretation. Labels are perpetually changing and shifting, but of course, these monikers and intricacies obscure what is arguably the point of the entire LGBTQ+ identity: We should all be able to be who we are, and to love who we wish to love.
Of course, it sometimes seems like our world does everything to make this impossible. A deeper dig into the "Lights Up" lyrics reflects this, revealing that not everything is love and light in Harry Styles' glamorous world. Styles did tell Rolling Stone that his new album is going to be all about "having s*x and feeling sad," and in "Lights Up," he's keeping that promise.
The lyrics, "All the lights couldn't put out the dark / Running through my heart / Lights up and they know who you are / Do you know who you are?" seems to hint at a kind of existential questioning that belies the discomfort that often accompanies trying to figure out who you are, corroborated by the pressures of being caught in the insatiable limelight.
We may never know who Harry Styles really is, beyond the glittering figure he presents himself to be. Then again, we're all constantly performing various identities, many of us never knowing just how much we've been influenced and shaped by the outside world and its conventions. As we try to come to terms with who we really are, the best we can hope is that we have a few nights spent on the backs of motorcycles like Styles in "Lights Up," throwing our hands up to the sky and dancing to the beat.
Harry Styles - Lights Up (Official Video) www.youtube.com
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