Being reminded of your ex can be awkward for anyone, but one former One Direction member knows how to think on his feet. During a concert in Copenhagen on March 18, Harry Styles referenced Taylor Swift in a clever (but effective) way, and fans loved his cheeky statement. When Styles learned that a fan was celebrating her birthday at his show, he asked how old she was. And when he heard that it happened to be her 22nd birthday, Styles came up with an on-the-spot (and on-the-nose) way to joke about his ex. He wasn't shading her in any way — there seems to be a lot of mutual respect between these two. But Styles did make a playful reference to one of Swift's most well-known hits.
Apparently, Styles couldn't stop himself from starting to quote the refrain from Swift's song "22." "Twenty-two. She's 22, OK," Styles said during the concert. "I don't know about..." He didn't finish the quote, but he shared enough to convince fans he was referring to Swift's song. The crowd started cheering wildly — those four words really sent fans into a whirlwind — and he proceeded to wish the fan a "Happy Birthday" in front of the crowd.
Styles and Swift dated years ago, but fans of the two singers will still remember the details of their short-lived relationship. The two of them reportedly started dating in November 2012. And that December, the pair were seen at the Central Park Zoo together, before their breakup in January 2013.
Since then, fans have tried to piece together which of the artists' songs could be about each other. As far as Swift's music goes, popular guesses included the aptly named "Style," as well as "Out of the Woods" and "Wonderland." More recently, some fans have even suspected that "...Ready For It?" could be about Styles, too. Some also suspected that Styles' songs "Ever Since New York" and "Two Ghosts" could be about Swift. (Styles has been pretty coy about confirming the rumors, attempting to dodge a question about "Two Ghosts" during a BBC Radio 1 interview in 2017.)
These aren't revenge-filled breakup anthems, though. If what Styles has said since then is any indication, he and Swift both respect each other as artists. In a Rolling Stone interview published in April of 2017, Styles praised Swift's songs, calling them "so good," whether or not they're actually about him. Here's what Styles told the magazine about Swift's work:
"I mean, I don't know if they're about me or not ... but the issue is, she's so good, they're bloody everywhere... I write from my experiences; everyone does that. I'm lucky if everything [we went through] helped create those songs. That's what hits your heart. That's the stuff that's hardest to say, and it's the stuff I talk least about. That's the part that's about the two people. I'm never going to tell anybody everything."
Styles' words about Swift are sweet — it doesn't look like there's any bad blood there. So the "22" reference wasn't a dig; it was just a clever joke. (It's also not Styles' first allusion to the song — on his own 22nd birthday, he tweeted, "I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22.")
After all, Styles has proven he's got a sense of humor before. When the former One Direction member guest-hosted The Late Late Show in place of James Corden, Styles had the show's audience in stitches with his quick wit and comedic timing. And, yes, the "22" reference was an obvious one — but, still, Styles thought of it on the spot, and it was pretty funny. If he ever wants to retire from singing, Styles could probably have a future in comedy, honestly.