Niall Horan
Niall Horan has found individual success since his debut album, and his fans eagerly await what the Irish singer has in store for "NH2." (Image via Instagram)

The room was quiet and still as my friend’s fingers pad against her cellphone. My seat was angled toward her spot on my disheveled bed, and both of my hands were tied up in my half-finished hair. It was the least of my worries now. We were awaiting Niall Horan.

The speaker was on. The small device paired to her phone, more ready than either of us for the next step. We exchanged nervous looks for a moment before the delicate sound of strings flooded my dorm room. The instrumental was unsettling, and our anticipation was still mounting. Until something happened. Horan sang, and it brought chills down my spine.

“Oh my God,” my friend squealed. “Oh my God. He sounds so good.”

Looking back now and writing this piece, I certainly do remember the magic and electricity. I can laugh at the fond memory of first listening to the 25-year-old’s debut album, “Flicker.” Horan released the record almost two years ago with popular singles such as “This Town” and “Slow Hands.”

While the album struck gold for the former One Direction member with over 2 billion streams, fans are anxiously awaiting the arrival of his second album, known as “NH2” (Niall Horan 2).

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Concentration face! 📸 @christiantierney

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Horan has been open about the writing process and his thoughts on his new songs, particularly on social media. Some tweets and Instagram stories hint at possible lyrics as well as release date clues. The updates began once Horan’s writing process did, following his recovery from sinus surgery and the end of his solo tour in 2018.

“Cheers to me for getting off the couch and making tunes,” Niall posted on Instagram. “Three days in and it’s feeling good.”

The Mullingar native has been quite candid when it comes to both the highs and lows of creating an album. Horan admitted that one of the most taxing tasks is releasing content that he is proud of and loves just as much as the fans would. Not to mention, the stakes are raised after achieving so much success with “Flicker.”

“I want to outdo this album obviously. That’s the dream,” the “On the Loose” singer told an interviewer. “I’m not heartbroken this time, so I can just go and write tunes — write songs for the sake of just writing songs.”

 And the singer seems confident that he has done just that.

Horan announced that he would release first singles for the second album, “Nice to Meet Ya” and “Put a Little Love on Me,” this September. He teased the tracks and then performed them for the first time in early August at a Capitol Congress event, hosted by Horan’s label.

The songs were written by RuthAnne Cunningham, Tobias Jesso Jr., Jamie Scott, Mike Needle, Dan Bryer and Julian Bunetta — all co-writers who were responsible for hits like “Slow Hands.”

Horan claimed the new singles were trippy with a ‘90s and ’00s rock vibe but also include a bit of soul and dance. Snippets of the tracks lit the match for the countdown to “NH2,” and, according to the singer, the record is going to be flipped on its head compared to his debut album.

Additionally, he wrote it without the intention of being a concept album, unlike “Flicker,” though he promises the same heart-tugging ballads with the incorporation of fresh, fun tunes.  

“It won’t be ‘Flicker,’” Horan told OD Entertainment. “It’ll be a little bit different. I’ll always have my ballads in there, but I’m trying to rock things up a bit and bring out what I’m really about.”  

I, for one, am curious to see exactly what the Irish pop-star has up his sleeve.  

Horan himself has dispelled many of the speculations surrounding the second album, especially those regarding the expected collaborations. Fueled by rumors, eager fans anticipated that Shawn Mendes would feature on “NH2,” which both boys confirmed on Twitter.  

Horan also mentioned wanting to work with Khalid, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift, but with no concrete promises to any of the artist’s inclusion on the album.  

He also confronted the rumors the second album would be just like his debut. Coldplay and Elton John are among the list of artists from whom Horan draws his inspiration. With such a mix of classics, he insists on bringing back sounds that no longer play on the radio.

“I 100% haven’t stuck myself into any specific genre.” Horan wrote on Twitter. “It’s been the most fun just writing and seeing what happens sound-wise.”

The tweet sent the internet into a frenzy, and why wouldn’t it? The singer plays an abundance of instruments, and, if there’s anything to get excited about, it’s the result of simply having him play around with lyrics and different techniques in the studio in no particular way.

“NH2” will surely shine a different light on the blue-eyed heartthrob. In this new era, Horan is focusing on music that inspires him and is thoroughly enjoying it. On a podcast “George Ezra and Friends,” he mentioned wanting to channel the same funky sexiness of “Slow Hands.”

“That’s what I’ll aim for next time, not so much electric but that bit of dirt. Yeah, dirt is the word,” he told George. 

I don’t know about you, but not once have I ever heard the word “dirt” used to describe any song or album. Horan has already demonstrated skill in that measure, however. The singer continues to update fans and build the suspense, all the while managing expectations.

Every time I think about what could possibly be coming for “NH2,” it brings me back to my freshman dorm room with my close friend. The thrill of waiting to hear those first sounds, first lyrics and feel those first emotions of the new album are what keeps me content.

Horan has never been one to disappoint, and I doubt the talented artist would start now.

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