NIALL HORAN’s second studio album Heartbreak Weather is out on Friday.
Much of the record was inspired by his recent break-up with his girlfriend.
In an exclusive chat, Niall talked me through the songs one by one.
1. Heartbreak Weather
Heartbreak Weather is where it all stems from. I had the title of that song for ages and then I wrote the song afterwards. The Heartbreak Weather thing helped me to write the album, I had the concept and I was able to correlate my feelings with different weather patterns. Heartbreak Weather is about the start of the relationship and the song's quite a personal song but I've dressed it up as a happy tune. I'm pretty decent at that.
There's a lot of sad songs that are dressed up as happier sounding ones. This has an eighties kind of feel to it, it makes you feel happy as soon as it starts and that's what I wanted. That's why I wanted to start the album with it because it really perks your ears up straight away. I absolutely love this song.
2. Black and White
Black and White was one of my favourite songs that I've ever had the pleasure of making. When we were in the studio I just had the best time. We were in the Bahamas and I think of this song as a wedding song. I had the title for a while and I was trying to think what I could do with it. I was getting a bit nostalgic with it and the song is basically about the first person you ever go out with, when you're like 15, you're like, that's it, me and you are getting married.
That's it, I've seen it in the movies it looks exactly like this. So I just thought black and white would be like the black suit and white dress and it would become a bit of a wedding song. It's got a very happy feel to it, like a stomping driving tune. I think it might be my favourite on the album.
3. Dear Patience
Dear Patience is basically at the start of the relationship, I was basically writing a letter to the feeling of patience and being like, 'Don't f*** it up. Take your time on this because you rush into stuff.' That's why it comes straight after Black and White because it's kind of contradicting itself. It's like, 'don't mess this one up, don't rush in too hard.' The verse is like, 'can we share a drink and let go of the pressure,' which is kind of like, 'me and you need to have a chat, patience.' That's where that came from.
4. Bend the Rules
Bend the Rules is not particularly personal. Slowly the album became a concept album and was less about me and more about different relationships and maybe that feeling that at the start of a relationship, you're not that trusting and this song kind of talks about, when I call you up, you might miss a name out when I ask you who's around and you're not breaking the rules but you're kind of bending them. In my head it was kind of like my Bruce Springsteen – Streets of Philadelphia moment.
5. Small Talk
Small Talk, I love this song. It's got a bit of a rasp to it, I always say it's a close neighbour of Slow Hands — a grungier version. It's got that chorus that when it kicks in it's very unexpected. The verse is kind of mysterious and then it's got this mad chorus that drops in and socks you. But I love this song — Small Talk and Nice To Meet Ya would be the egotistical part of the concept where you're out on the town and a bit of a joke, like, 'I'm going out tonight and it's going to be fun.'
6. Nice To Meet Ya
Same with this, it's the egotistical side, it's a bit of fun and it was the first single which felt like the only way I could announce myself back onto the scene in terms of what I had in front of me. I wanted to make a bit of noise and when it came out it did shock people and perked people's ears back up to me again so it did its job. I love that song. It's a great song to perform live.
7. Put A Little Love On Me
Put A Little Love On Me I wrote when it was raining and it's like, 'I'm sad, we're finished, put a little love on me'. It was one of those ones which was a tough write. It was very early and it was very raw when I was writing it but I think one of my favourite songs I've ever written.
8. Arms of a Stranger
Arms of a Stranger is more concept-based, it was written when I had the concept, and is that feeling of when you do finish up with someone, after Put A Little Love On Me, I tried to tell a story in the tracklisting. And yeah it's that feeling of, 'we're done and now I'm lying in the arms of a stranger, trying to get over you'. That's literally what the chorus is. It's very on the nose but with the concept I was aiming for it to be a bit more on the nose.
Everywhere is after that, when you're walking around and you feel like you absolutely see that person everywhere you go and in my case, I was seeing that a lot. You feel like you see them on the tube and feel like you see them everywhere you go. It was one of the first things I wrote down because that's one of the feelings that you get when you go through something like that, you feel like you see that person all the time. We wrote that on the beach in ten minutes in the Bahamas, it was one of the quicker writes.
10. Cross Your Mind
Cross Your mind started as a piano ballad actually, it was just a four-chord piano ballad that I was playing in the Bahamas. I came in one morning and the first thing I did was sit down, press the chord of F and just started singing. I sang the whole chorus, I had the chorus in a couple of minutes and all the words came out in one go and then I wrote from there. But the more I played it as a piano ballad, the more I started bouncing on my seat and then I was like, no, this can't be.
So then I was listening to a bit of Fleetwood Mac as per usual and Empire of the Sun and stuff like that and using that kind of stuff as a benchmark of what could be produced. That's where that came from. That will be up there as one of my favourites as well. It's about something really sad but it's got a really good feeling.
11. New Angel
New Angel is like, 'now I need to get over you! All of these sad songs have gone on for too long, I'm going to need something to distract me now'. It's based around that and New Angel is a title I had for a while.
12. No Judgement
No Judgement is based on a personal story of mine with someone I've known for a long time. I think the lyrics speak for themselves: 'When you're with me, no judgement.' It's like, you can do what you want, you can come and go as you please, I'll always be here for you. It's playing on the fact that I could be your love or your shoulder to cry on, I'm good.
13. San Francisco
San Francisco was a tough write too. It was based on the start of the relationship and wanting to go back to where it started. The song was called Take Me Back but I changed it to San Francisco because the song is basically about San Francisco and the area.
Still was the quickest song I've ever written. I wrote it in about seven minutes. I was in the studio and then the people I was working with went for dinner and I was in the studio on my own and I picked up this guitar which was in a weird tuning and I started singing and didn't stop. I kept going and wrote that I'm still in love with you, after all of these songs I've written, the punchline is, 'I'm still in love with you'. You're apologising and you're doing a bit of self-deprecation and then at the end, 'I'm still in love with you'.
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