Matty Healy and the Allure of the British Bad Boy

“He may be one of the last true rock stars,” explains artist services manager Rrita Hashani. “I think he’s a fantastic lyricist, and many of us have been pining after him since the early Tumblr days. You have to remember that 1975 came out in, like, the mid-to-post-peak One Direction era. Liking The 1975 felt cooler than liking 1D.”

For aspiring Nashville pop star John Ly, the fantasy is predicated partly on believing anyone, under the right circumstances, might be able to bag him. “I think the appeal of Matt Healy is that he seems to not care,” Ly says. “Of course it helps that he is British, but it’s the ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude that is so attractive. He says what he wants, kisses whoever he wants, and does whatever he wants. He just seems so accessible too; he isn’t a celebrity that will ignore his fans. He gives me hope, like if I went to his concert, he would kiss me because I’m hot…I am Pamela Anderson, and he is my Tommy.”

(Notably, Healy declined to do a “Robbers” kiss at the London show where Swift casually showed up in full “Mirrorball” regalia, took a sip of his abandoned cocktail, and performed a cover of The 1975’s “The City.” Per concertgoers, Healy later told the audience: “I’m not kissing anybody in front of Taylor Swift. Have some respect. In front of the queen? It’s not happening!” After the show, Healy’s mother took a picture with Swift backstage.)

Brooklyn comedian and socialite Moira Vaughn says she never liked the band’s music until she started paying attention to Healy’s offstage persona. One of his greatest strengths—and weaknesses—as an artist is that he’s chronically online. 

“That’s when I started being like, ‘Oh, he’s the sexiest guy ever,’” she says. “He has the irony brain of a weird Twitter guy but all the charm and mannerisms and characteristics of a real rock star. His shows are even more bait because he knows how to sell sex in a way that is grimy and sort of punkish, which we are so diluted from that now and everyone is too busy trying to be smol beans for teenage girls. He’s what Harry Styles wants to be when he goes onstage, but Harry is too commercial and doesn’t have the same panache.”

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