There were many baffling moments at last night's Brit Awards: Lewis Capaldibeing noopener noreferrer} presenting The Weeknd's award for Best International Male, Jackie Weaver opening the whole ceremony. The list goes on. But, for some viewers, one of the most confusing moments - apparently - was when Harry Styles spoke.
Looking incredible in a 70s-inspired Gucci suit, complete with a handbag, Harry was presented with the award for British Single for Watermelon Sugar. He spoke about how much, even after achieving incredible levels of fame in One Direction, moments like this meant to him. But it wasn't what he said that caught everyone's attention, everyone was confused because he sounded American.
'WHY has northern king Harry Styles just accepted his award in an American accent,' one viewer tweeted. While another sarcastically added, 'Oh I didn’t know Harry Styles was American.' Even members of my family were asking in our group chat what on earth was going on with Harry's accent.
But, really, is it anything to be baffled by? Accents can - and often do - change, even if it isn't intentional. It's often subconscious. How you speak depends on who you hang around with, and where you are. As Dr Damien Hall, a linguistics expert at Newcastle University who has carried out research into bidialectalism (that's talking in two or more accents), told Esquire: 'Bidialectalism is almost always subconscious. Doing it consciously is very hard indeed.'
Let's remember that ever since he was around 17, Harry has been travelling around the world as one of the most famous men alive. It's understandable that his accent might change. It doesn't mean that he's betraying his Northern roots, or anything silly like that. He has also been spending a lot of time in America, recently filming Don't Worry Darling (directed by his girlfriend Olivia Wilde).
And of course, Harry is far from the first person to be accused of deliberately changing their accent. In last night's tweets, some referenced a similar moment, when Joss Stone - from Devon - presented an award at the Brits in 2007 with an American accent. And remember when Meghan Markle was accused of 'adopting' a British accent a few years ago - even though she was quite literally marrying someone with a British accent, and marrying into the royal family? (Of course her accent was going to change!)
Unless you can - honestly - hold your hand over your heart and say your accent has never altered in a social situation, then don't act so surprised when the way someone speaks changes. Even if they are one of your favourite Northern popstars.