The 27-year-old singer, who was nominated for three awards this year, kicked off the evening with a jazzy rendition of his hit “Watermelon Sugar” in a black leather Gucci suit with a green boa. He went shirtless underneath his cropped blazer, baring his chest tattoos while dancing around the stage.
After the Recording Academy announced the star-studded list of performers earlier this month, CBS executive Jack Sussman teased that viewers could expect a rousing opening performance from Styles.
“You don’t want to miss the top of the show,” Sussman told Variety on Wednesday, March 10. “It’s going to be music coming at you heavy and hard like you’ve not seen it before. We’ve got Harry Styles, this incredible entertainer, at the top of the show, and we’ll just keep coming at you.”
Styles launched his solo career after Us Weekly broke the news of One Direction’s split in January 2016. His debut single, “Sign of the Times,” came out in April 2017, followed by his self-titled album one month later. He released his sophomore album, Fine Line, in December 2019.
While both of the “Sweet Creature” crooner’s solo records received critical acclaim, the Recording Academy only recognized his most recent. Fine Line received a nomination in the Best Pop Vocal Album category, and its singles “Watermelon Sugar” and “Adore You” were nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video, respectively.
“It’s always nice to know that people like what you’re doing, but ultimately — and especially working in a subjective field — I don’t put too much weight on that stuff,” Styles told Variety in December 2020 after the nominations were announced. “I think it’s important when making any kind of art to remove the ego from it. It’s about the work that you do when you’re not expecting any applause.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the entertainer to postpone his Love on Tour, he has ramped up his acting career. After starring in the 2017 war film Dunkirk, he joined the casts of My Policeman and Don’t Worry Darling, the latter of which wrapped filming in February and sparked his romance with director Olivia Wilde.
“Harry and Olivia had chemistry almost instantaneously on set,” a source exclusively told Us in January of the couple. “It was only a matter of time before they got together.”