I'm sure you just want to slip away into bliss listening to all the new music he just put out, but there's a mystery to be solved. The spoken part of Harry Styles' "Woman" doesn't appear to be done by the singer himself, which makes me wonder exactly whose voice that is. For those who haven't had the album on repeat since it dropped on Friday, there's a brief sound clip at the beginning of the sultry track in which an unidentified man says, "Should we just search romantic comedies on Netflix and see what we can find?" At first glance, it seems to be a nod to the concept of "Netflix and chill," especially with the lyrics that follow — "I hope you can see, the shape I've been in / While he's touching your skin / This thing upon me, howls like a beast / You flower, you feast" — but who is talking on "Woman"?
Rolling Stone seems to think it is Styles, suggesting an evening of rom-coms. (After all, the singer famously adores rom-coms.) But that voice doesn't sound like his to me, from the basic timbre down to the seeming-lack of a British accent. While there isn't any official word yet as to who is featured in that spoken-word segment, my instinct is that it would be a friend or collaborator of Styles'.
Because of filming commitments for Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, the singer recorded much of his solo album in Jamaica to be close to the movie's set. Spin reported in April that Styles and his bandmates were holed up in a villa-and-studio-complex combination, and that they had an unusual method for wrapping things up after a day of recording. "The band frequently watched romantic dramas on Netflix 'to wind down'; Styles told Crowe he had become an expert on the oeuvre of Nicholas Sparks," the magazine wrote.
So maybe not so much about "Netflix and chill" after all, and more a glimpse behind the scenes during the recording of his' debut solo album. A little reminder of the process slipped into the finished project, like an Easter egg just for Styles and his bandmates or producers — one of whom, I'm guessing, is the mystery voice in question.
WOMAN: THE BEGINNING OF THE SONG IS THIS RANDOM DUDES VOICE SAYING "CAN WE JUST PUT ON ROMANTIC COMEDIES AND SEE WHAT COMES UP" FNDJF WHAT— kim tommo (@halfmoonlouis) May 10, 2017
Genius lists the producers on "Woman" as Kid Harpoon, Tyler Johnson, Alex Salibian, and Jeff Bhasker, so, if I had to guess, I'd say there's also a good chance that it's one of them. Mitch Rowland and Ryan Nasci have been associated with the album as well as co-writers and co-producers, so their names are also in the hat. Kid Harpoon is British himself, so that excludes him, since the speaker seems to have an American accent. But everybody else still appears to be up for grabs — including that the voice might belong to Styles. He is, after all, behind the honking duck sound on the same track.
Since Styles has been pretty forthcoming about his influences and process (though not about the people his songs might be about), there's a good chance he'll come out and reveal the answer to this one soon. Until then, all we can do is wonder.