The UK heartthrob has just announced a massive tour of Australia and to celebrate the Vodafone presale starting today, we’ve ranked Louis’ biggest and best songs.
Earlier this week, one-man pop powerhouse Louis Tomlinson announced his imminent return to stages Down Under and if you’re a Vodafone customer (and believe us, you should be), you’ll be able to get your hands on the very first tickets this morning (July 21). An exclusive Vodafone presale will kick off at 10am AEST, running for 72 hours until the same time on Monday (July 24).
You can head here for more info on how to take advantage of that presale.
Come January, he’ll deliver his mind-bending blend of bubblegum, Britpop and rock to his biggest crowds yet in Naarm/Melbourne, Meanjin/Brisbane and Eora/Sydney. The run comes in support of Tomlinson’s stellar second album, Faith In The Future, and although this tour will be his biggest on local soil, we’re expecting tickets to fly right out the gates.
To get the hype train chugging at full steam, we’ve crafted the ultimate playlist to soundtrack your ticket-scoring endeavours: a meticulous, indisputable* ranking of Tomlinson’s ten best solo releases.
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We’ll happily admit that Tomlinson’s first solo outing followed a fairly safe formula – squeaky clean, harmonic vocals (supplemented with plenty of “woah-ohs”) flowing over the unique kind of pseudo-clubby bubblegum pop beat Steve Aoki is a certified master at – but for what it is, Just Hold On is exactly what it should be. Back in ye olden times (2016), it proved to us that Tomlinson had the chops to carry a pop banger on his own, lapping up every lumen of the spotlight. And listeners seemed to agree: the song went Platinum in five territories (including Australia), came just one spot shy of topping the UK charts, and still pops up in Tomlinson’s live sets from time to time.
Tomlinson’s second track as the headline act landed some 16 months after Just Hold On, making for one of the most brutal waits we’ve endured between a debut single and its follow-up. But it’s without a doubt that Back To You was worth the wait, shining with an equally cool and catchy beat, and an impassioned vocal performance (carried by emotive lyrics tailored for maximum swoonability) that made it undeniably clear: Tomlinson was always the biggest heartthrob in One Direction, and goddammit, he’s still their biggest heartthrob in his solo era.
Bebe Rexha’s vocals add so much colour to the tune, too, as her smoky swagger gels with the sweetness in Tomlinson’s own delivery. Us here Down Under were especially stoked on Back To You – racking up three Platinum certificates and a peak at #11 on the ARIA Charts, it remains Tomlinson’s biggest single as a solo artist.
Though it came out a solid 15 months after lead single Miss You, it was Two Of Us that really kickstarted the cycle for Tomlinson’s debut solo album, Walls (which arrived in January of 2020). It was a bold choice for that role, too, as a deeply emotive ballad steered by haunting grand piano chords and widescreen orchestration. But it was a power move: the song itself is striking and cuts deep with authentic pangs of grief, Tomlinson’s vocals swelling from lowkey and melancholic to intensely poignant as the music builds. Thematically, too, it’s one of his most important efforts – a touching ode to his late mum.
The title track from Walls is another ballad, but this one stands out a little more with its ear-pricking instrumentation, channelling the greats of ‘90s Britpop with its coolly strummed acoustic guitars, droning pianos and atmospheric string- and synth-work. Released as the album’s fifth and final single, it offered a fantastic summary of everything we’d heard thus far, from the searing pain he poured out in Two Of Us to the energised pop-rock of Kill My Mind.
Then there’s the lyrics – some of Tomlinson’s most gripping and evocative – with the chorus in particular standing out for its motivational punch. He sings: “These high walls, they came up short / Now I stand taller than them all / These high walls never broke my soul / And I, I watched them all come fallin' down / I watched them all come fallin' down for you.”
Tomlinson’s newest era began last September, when he dropped the lead single from Faith In The Future: a rousing slow-burner called Bigger Than Me. It’s the perfect song to bridge the gap between his first and second albums, starting off as a lowkey acoustic number and growing into a big, bold pop anthem you could scream along to at the top of your lungs. It swells into a peak around three minutes in, where Tomlinson is virtually howling to contest with the operatic strings, spirited drums and scene-stealing synths. When we first heard Bigger Than Me, it felt like a proper reintroduction to Louis Tomlinson – and goddamn, were we keen to learn more about this new version of him.
After launching his solo career with two collaborative tracks, Just Like You marked the very first time we heard Tomlinson without a guest singer or heavyweight producer. Released standalone in October of 2017 – about a month and a half before Miss You kicked off the Walls era – this airy pop gem serves as somewhat of a theme song, very on-the-nose as Tomlinson literally opens it with a verse about how he’s “the guy from the one band” with the “whole world in [his] right hand”, prone to racking up “headlines that [he] can't stand” with his lavish escapades (“Night out and it's ten grand”)... Before explaining that as his fans, we “only get half of the story” when we see Tomlinson revel in all “the cash and the cars and the glory”.
Is it self-indulgent? Yeah, absolutely. But does it absolutely slap nonetheless? Yeah, absolutely.
It makes sense that the music video for Miss You takes place at a party: accented by tasteful juts of an electric guitar and a thumping drum beat, the song feels triumphant and energising – the kind of song you’d blast in your room to hype yourself up while you get ready for an actual party. Following on from Just Like You in December of 2017, this was also the first time we heard Tomlinson shine on a track driven primarily by electric guitars, something we’d hear a lot more of on Faith In The Future, but felt like a special treat on Walls.
Remember how we noted that Walls (the song) saw Tomlinson channel an ambiguous ‘90s Britpop flavour? We can be a little more straight-up with Kill My Mind – this song is Oasis as fuck. But we say that as nothing but a compliment: charging forward with brisk strumming and animated drums, the artist’s vocals soar overhead, his thick Yorkshire accent gripping as he sings passionately: “You kill my mind / Raise my body back to life / And I don't know what I'd do without you now.” Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without this absolute banger in my morning playlist.
Walls was a stellar album, no doubt about it – this list features three songs from it, after all – but it’s with Faith In The Future that Tomlinson has really come into his own as a solo artist. The headstrong rock’n’roll energy weaved throughout it peaks on Written All Over Your Face, clear from the outset as, over a punchy drum beat and rollicking bassline, the artist embraces his heartthrob personality, seeped in sensuality as he quips, “Hey babe / It’s written all over your face.” You’re telling us this is the same man that once sang on What Makes You Beautiful!? Sheer insanity.
The latest single from Faith In The Future – a post-release pick that made impact earlier this year – is a punk-laced belter that stands out with ripping guitars and a downright explosive chorus. It feels like an almost oddly natural fit for Tomlinson, too, as he smashes through the more intense vocal delivery with stunning aplomb – he’s a bonafide rocker, and Out Of My System shows he’s much better suited to reign in this world than in bubblegum pop.
On his upcoming Australian tour, Tomlinson will play three of the biggest and most renowned venues in the country – two in the open air (sorry, Sydney) – and this is the exact kind of song those venues were built for: a rip-roaring anthem-in-the-making that no sane human could stand still (or, God forbid, sit) for.
Sunday January 28 – Naarm/Melbourne, Sidney Myer Music Bowl
Tuesday January 30 – Meanjin/Brisbane, Riverstage
Friday February 2 – Eora/Sydney, Qudos Bank Arena