I’m lying under my silky blue sheets, and Harry Styles is spelling the word l o v e in my ear. No, it’s not a dream — it’s modern technology. The Fine Line singer partnered with the meditation app Calm to narrate a lullaby-like “sleep story," designed to relax our anxious little minds to sleep during this trying time. It's soothing, it's surreal...
... And it’s packed with sexual innuendo.
When I first cue up the story, it's around midnight, and I have high hopes. “With all the business of your day, I know how hard it can be to get to sleep,” Styles begins his narrative in a honeyed and hushed tone. He gets me! “I wish you a wonderful night’s sleep. So make yourself comfortable.” I gladly oblige, giving my pillow a fluff and reaching over to my night stand for my vial of lavender essential oil so I can rub some on my neck.
Soon Styles is telling me to imagine we are “holding hands,” “snuggling on a raft,” and “lazing on the ground, succumbing to the charms of blades of grass we now caress with fingertips and palms.” Okay, Harry. If you insist.
As I listen, it seems as though Styles is channeling two separate spirits. Sometimes, I feel like a child being read a bedtime story, with Styles as my concerned caretaker, with only my best intentions at heart. Other times, though, I can almost see the mischievous smile of the Harry who suggestively ate a slice of fruit in his “Watermelon Sugar” music video.
Truth be told, Style’s mantra has all the facets of a typical nighttime meditation. Deep breaths. Closed eyes. A clear mind. Visualisations. I could totally see how the recording could help someone nod off — if they didn’t know it was Harry Styles they were listening to. There’s something distracting about celebrity asking you to gaze in the ocean, that makes you want to look up "One Direction on beach" more than nod off. Maybe that's just me?
Harry is certainly taking the project seriously. "Rest and recovery is as important as doing the work," he said in a release from Calm. "Finding a balance has been endlessly beneficial to both my physical and mental health." He added he was glad he could contribute to Calm when "the world needs all the healing it can get."
I am as enamoured by the sentiment as I am confused by it. What kind of healing is he talking about? I mean, this is something he literally says in his story: "Gravity caresses us and pulls you close to me.”
Styles isn’t the only celeb to read meditations aloud in a sultry manner, and you have to wonder if it's becoming a trend — or, maybe, a sales ploy. In April, Chris Hemsworth recorded a “Sleep For Kids” sleep story that one of my colleagues called “a thinly veiled horny meditation for fans.” I thought briefly of Thor while I listened to Styles, but then was brought back into the moment when Styles said: “Deeper, gradually deeper... We drift and now transcend to unfamiliar places too surreal to comprehend.” Sure.
All told, I would rate Styles’ story a seven out of 10 as a meditation. From that standpoint, I found myself wishing he’d start with a body scan and provide more direction for deep breathing. But if we’re looking at this meditation through the lens of soft porn, I’ll give it a 10 out of 10.
Particularly because at the end of the dream-like story, Styles made me feel like you’d want anyone who’d talked about “quenching needs” in your bed to make you feel. Styles said: “The tenderness we feel when we are close, two minds as one, surrounds us and connects us, but we’ve only just begun.” Oh, Harry.