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Music / Louis Tomlinson

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All of those voices, all of those choices, I can't hear them anymore

Louis William Tomlinson (né Austin, born 24 December 1991) is an English singer-songwriter who has also done work in football, television, acting, philanthropy, and fashion.

He gained notability as a member of hit boyband One Direction, having auditioned for the 2010 season of The X Factor as a solo artist. Out of all the members, he contributed the most in songwriting with credits on over 38 songs across the band's discography, particularly on the later 3 albums, leading the charge in shifting the band's music towards a more mature sound. Outside of music, he initially made his name as the larger-than-life funny one with Keet tendencies.

Since the band's hiatus in 2016, he has gone on to release several singles as a solo artist and two albums: Walls (2020) and Faith in the Future (2022). He also appeared as a judge on the 2018 season of The X Factor. To celebrate the return of live music, Tomlinson founded the Away From Home Festival in 2021.

Solo Discography:

  • Walls (2020)
  • Faith in the Future (2022)


  • Alone Among the Couples: In the "Walls" music video, Louis pensively wanders through a ballroom as men and women paired in couples waltz around him before lying down on the target-printed dance floor.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: "Paradise", only available on a special edition of Faith in the Future:
    I know I'm the only one who's gonna make my ship come sailing in
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • In "Fearless":
      Tell me, do you still remember feeling young
      And strong enough, to get it wrong
      In front of all these people?
    • On the bridge of "Bigger Than Me":
      Do you ever ask why it's not black and white
      How you sleep at night, when you're just like me?
  • Art Imitates Art: The cover art for the single "Bigger Than Me" features Louis with a singular green eye (his eyes are naturally blue), in an apparent reference to the cover art for George Michael's Older.
  • Big Brother Instinct: In addition to being an actual big brother and the oldest of the boys, Louis is protective of his loved ones, and perhaps notably, his fans. There are several examples of him defending fans and showing a caring attitude towards them. Behind the scenes in 1D, he was known to take on a leadership role, such as advocating for the boys to be able to write their own music.
  • Britpop: His debut album in particular has often been referred to as such, and he cited the likes of Oasis as his inspiration. However, for his second album, he stated he did not want to limit his genre inspirations.
  • Broken Bird: Defied in the bridge of "Saturdays", which declares "my heart my be broken, but I won't be broken down".
  • Call-Back: "That's the Way Love Goes", which is about consoling a friend who's having difficulty getting over an ex, directly quotes what the friend said to him in "Miss You", when the situation was reversed.
    Miss You: Now I'm asking my friends who to say "I'm sorry"
    They say "Lad, give it time, there's no need to worry"
    That's the Way Love Goes: Remember when you told me I should give it time?
    Well, here's the chance for you to take your own advice
  • Commonality Connection: In "All This Time", people who share certain struggles and experiences find solidarity in one another. After detailing his struggles, the narrator realises in the second verse that the person he's singing to is the same as him, and the chorus switches from first to second person. The song starts quiet and pensive, and gets louder until its triumphant conclusion that this kind of love and friendship "is worth the pain".
    Our eyes meet
    And I can tell that you're the same as me
  • Cover Version: He has performed covers of "7" by Catfish and the Bottlemen, "Beautiful War" by Kings of Leon, "Mr Brightside" by The Killers, and "505" by Arctic Monkeys on tour. He has also performed 1D songs such as "Through the Dark", "Drag Me Down", "Little Black Dress", and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go".
  • Double Meaning: "Nothing wakes you up like waking up alone" is sung at the beginning and end of "Walls". At the beginning, the narrator literally wakes up, lonely after a painful breakup. By the end, he has woken up figuratively, having reflected on the relationship and on himself.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: He had a phase with sparkles (or "speckles" as he calls them).
    Louis: I call them speckle socks... I did have a speckle hoodie! I've also got speckle joggers.
  • Grief Song: "Just Hold On" and "Two of Us" are tributes to his late mother, with whom he had a very close relationship. Other songs such as "Don't Let It Break Your Heart" also deal with the theme of grief, as well as "Angels Fly" from Faith in the Future.
    • Adding to the devastation, he then lost his 18-year-old sister Félicité only a week after releasing "Two of Us", less than three years after losing his mother.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Louis has more than once expressed a fear of growing up. The thesis of "Fearless" seems to be that the societal ideal adulthood, the sign you've "made it", is soulless and comes at a cost. To be young is to be happy, free, and fearless.
  • Homage: Louis gave Noel Gallagher songwriting credits on "Walls", as he requested permission to pay homage to the songs "Stop Crying Your Heart Out", "Cast No Shadow", and "Acquiesce" for the track.
  • Iconic Outfit: Louis has experimented with his appearance multiple times over his career, but fans are still nostalgic for his preppy early 1D looks from 2011 and 2012, which typically featured suspenders, stripes, fitted shirts, chinos, and TOMS shoes. Louis has made it clear he has no intention of dressing like his 19/20 year old self again anytime soon.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: He declares as such on the bridge of "Defenceless".
    I hope that I'm not asking too much
    Just want to be loved by you (don't you be so defensive)
    And I'm too tired to be tough
    Just want to be loved by you
  • In the Style of: Louis has since performed rock renditions of his early electronic singles "Just Hold On" and "Back to You".
  • Intimate Marks: Louis caused quite the shock in 2015 when someone posted an Instagram story of him, getting a tattoo on his behind, which Louis teased (but obviously didn't show) on social media. He later confirmed it's penguin with headphones, and insists it's the "least sexy thing in the world" and the only tattoo he regrets.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: Louis has the number 28 tattooed on his left knuckles, and as of 2023, four symbols tattooed on his right knuckles, which seem to reference Faith in the Future lyrics.
  • Lighter and Softer: Faith in the Future, true to its name, carries an overall happier and more optimistic tone than Walls, which Louis himself considers to have a "weight" to it.
  • Location Song: "Common People" contains an ode to the working class community of Doncaster that Louis grew up.
    When I get lost, I go back to where I started
  • Loss of Identity: "Looked you in the eyes, saw that I was lost. For every question why, you were my because" in the song "Walls" might suggest that the narrator put "you" before everything, to the point where he lost his sense of self.
  • Love Is a Drug: On Walls, he compares a relationship to addiction and substance abuse, perhaps most directly in "Kill My Mind" and "Habit".
    Kill My Mind: The devil in my brain
    Whisperin' my name
    I can hear it sayin' ah, ah, ah
    "I can ease the pain,
    Just a little taste, babe"
    Habit: Never thought that giving up would be so hard
    But god, I'm missing you and your addictive heart
    You're the habit that I can't break
    ... You're the high that I need right now
  • Love Nostalgia Song:
    • Louis has spoken about evoking nostalgia when writing "Saturdays", which muses about loss and change after being reminded of someone who is no longer in your life. He includes details of his past, with "Silver Street" being a reference to the club strip in his hometown.
    • He also references "silver streets" in "Change", although the song is more about friendship than romantic love.
    • "Chicago" reflects on a relationship from a long time ago that "wasn't meant to be", but is still meaningful to the narrator.
      I didn't have to search 'cause I still know your number
      I bet sometimes you still like to wear my jumper
  • The Masochism Tango:
    • "Kill My Mind" opens with "You're a nightmare on the dance floor, and you hate me, and I want more", demonstrating how the lines between love and hate are blurred.
    • "Written All Over Your Face" speaks of wanting to "get back to loving" a partner who's being cold and disagreeable and trying pick a fight with you first thing in the morning.
    • "Back to You" veers more directly into Destructive Romance territory, using quite violent imagery to describe what this on-off relationship does to him.
      You can cut me up and kiss me harder
  • Misery Builds Character: "Walls" is about how heartbreak and hitting rock bottom forces you to pick yourself back up and rise above it.
  • Mr. Fanservice: At the end of his concerts, he runs to the barricade (with his security guards chasing after him) and throws himself at fans, an activity that has cost him several shirts. He even went to the barricade with a broken arm, knowing his fans would be gentle.
  • Music Is Politics: The non-album song "Copy of a Copy of a Copy" seems to be at least partially about the music industry, perhaps directed at his younger self or at new hopeful artists who run into obstacles so many have to face.
    It's an old curse, dreamers divin' head first
    Broken beaks and dead birds, can't get through the glass
  • My Future Self and Me: "Lucky Again" sounds like a message of comfort, hope and perseverance from Louis to his younger self about his journey from One Direction to a solo career.
    You give and give until it's gone away
    You tell yourself you've got another day
    You've lived that life, you just don't see it yet
    I see how hard you've worked to be yourself
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Many songs on Walls express regret and guilt over the breakdown of a relationship.
    Always You: Should've never let you go
    Habit: I always said that I'd mess up eventually
    ... I'm sorry, I let you down
    ... I was better with you, and I miss you now
    Too Young: I'm sorry that I hurt you, darling
    Walls: Nothing makes you hurt like hurtin' who you love
  • Numerological Motif: 28 he has it tattooed, it is on his football jersey, his in-ear piece, and is the name of his designer clothing line. The number's significance has been a topic of speculation for many years. He says it's just a lucky number he got through football, while his former bandmate Liam claimed it was his childhood house number, supported by the "Back to You" music video, which includes a shot of a #28 house in Doncaster.
    • Other numbers associated with Louis to a lesser extent are 78 and 369.
  • Oop North: A Yorkshireman and proud of it. He even incorporated the white rose of York into his 28 brand. The thickness of his accent varies: it tends to be very thick these days, but there was a time when it leaned more towards RP (such as enunciating his Ts and Hs), likely due to media training.
    • He once divulged in an interview that a boss at his former American label said he was 'ten percent too British'. His response: "The fuck do you want me to do about that?" He has since resolved to, quote unquote, "always be ten percent too British".
    • Moreover, unlike many British singers, he does not lose his accent when he sings... at least, not anymore. He can sing with a more neutral or American accent, which he would do during 1D and when he was a theatre kid, but he's made a point of using his native accent on his solo music.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: There are several clips, especially from the 1D and X Factor days, in which he has everyone in the room rolling. With age, his humour has shifted away from hyperactive physical comedy and more towards dry sarcasm.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: He would wear glasses for fun in 2010 and 2011, to the point where they became one of his iconic looks. As far as anyone knows, he did not actually need them.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Several of his songs, especially his early singles and on Walls, allude to a relationship that the narrator repeatedly goes back to, or wants to go back to. Some songs romanticise this relationship, others are more cynical.
    Back to You: I just keep on coming back to you
    Kill My Mind: On a mission just to feel like
    Habit: You're the habit that I can't break
    You're the feeling I can't put down
    You're the shiver that I can't shake
    Always You: I'm wasting my time when it was always you
    ... Should've never let you go
  • Self-Deprecation: Louis admits "I'm not easy on myself" in "Holding onto Heartache", and it's revealed in his documentary film All Of Those Voices (2023) that confidence has been one of his biggest hurdles in his career.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Tends to use swears as punctuation marks.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Although Louis frequently writes about the hardship and great pain he's experienced, he often aims for a hopeful and defiant attitude in the face of it all. He avoids a Downer Ending, placing the quietly uplifting "Only the Brave" at the end of Walls, right after the sadder "Defenceless".
  • "Somewhere" Song: Although the song is textually Exactly What It Says on the Tin, wanting to be "High in California", where recreational marijuana is legal, represents wanting to reach a place where you can do what you want, particularly things that might be taboo, without judgement.
    Spent my whole life just thinking I had to change
  • Songs of Solace: Being alone is a common theme found in Louis music, both in a lonely sense but also in the sense of learning to be self reliant.
    Walls: Nothing wakes you up like waking up alone
    Holding onto Heartache: You know the party's over
    When you're standing in an empty space alone
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • "Miss You" is about partying to distract yourself from a break up.
      All the smiles that I'm faking
      Everything is great, everything is fucking great
    • "Bigger Than Me" opens with, and then goes onto repeat, "When somebody told me I would change, I used to hide behind a smile".
  • Straw Hypocrite: "You" in the second verse of "Silver Tongues" judges the narrator for smoking marijuana, despite harbouring an apparent drinking problem.
    You said grass was a dirty drug
  • Team Spirit: The theme of Faith in the Future opener "The Greatest", which appears to be an ode to fans' support.
    Alone, we're only
    Just as good as the rest
    Together we're the greatest
  • Turn to Religion: The Walls closer "Only the Brave" contains a number of religious motifs, and opens with imagery of the narrator desperately praying.
    Pour mercy, mercy on me
    I'll fall upon my knees
  • Undying Loyalty: Despite having his confidence bashed by producers and feeling left in the dark about certain things, Louis was arguably the most loyal and staunch advocate of 1D as a band and as boys back in the day. He is generally a loyal person and holds onto friends from his childhood to this day.
  • Wealthy Philanthropist: Louis has been involved in charity work throughout his career. Sarah, who met Louis and his late mother at a charity event said this:
    People don't know the real Louis. Jay has told me that when Louis suffers a bad press day, he says to her "come on mum, let's make someone happy today".
  • Wham Shot: The final scene of the "Walls" music video shows Louis stumble across four silhouettes on a stage who resemble his former bandmates. As he takes his place next to them, one of the silhouettes (Zayn) disappears.
  • You Are Not Alone: The non-album song "Copy of a Copy of a Copy" is a reminder of the universality of this kind of struggle and emotional pain.
    I can hear you, howlin' till your lungs hurt
    So, let this be your comfort:
    You're not the only one, no
  • You Are Worth Hell: In "All This Time", after questioning whether his hard work and struggles are for nothing, whether it will amount to anything, he concludes that "the friends we make, the love it takes" is "worth the pain".