'One Direction' star Harry Styles is on the proverbial horns of a dilemma. His first solo effort - 'Sign of the Times' - has hit the coveted Top Spot on the singles chart, but indicators are that sales have taken a massive nose dive. Largely down to a somewhat unusual marketing strategy which attempted to change course towards a different, more mature audience. Don't misunderstand me; I like the song, I like it a lot, it just seems insane to alter a successful formula which steered One Direction towards fame and fortune.

The numbers speak for themselves

Sadly, the numbers clearly speak for themselves. His first-week sales total - 63,000 - was near enough half that of Zaine Malik's debut single, and that must've stung a bit.

Not wishing to add insult to his injury, but it is worth noting that rivals Little Mix's 'Shout Out to my Ex' - from the album 'Glory Days,' was closer to 100,000. Apparently, it appears to be down to the puzzling strategy which in Harry Styles' case has significantly backfired.

Is the situation a total train wreck?

The situation, however, rather than gaining ground, looks to be heading towards a complete train wreck. Agreed there were unexpected glitches at the start which prevented fans from downloading the single on Spotify, but such is the internet. I feel his decision to steer away from promoting through mainstream media, was the biggest mistake.

By doing so, 'Sign of the Times' didn't receive the required impetus from One Direction fans. And on the back of that, it ended up embarrassingly head to head with Ed Sheeran's 'Shape of You' - a song released some 13 weeks previously.

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At the top but only just

It could be argued that the One Direction star's debut single hitting the top spot was a guaranteed certainty. But in the frivolous world of popular music where success is never a sure thing, I feel Harry Styles has learned a hard lesson. There's no doubting his desire for credibility - and rightly so. But the formula for One Direction worked, and it worked well, and this is what he should've stuck with.

They say hindsight is always a great thing, and in this case, it's true. He got to the top with his debut single, but only just. Now should be the time to sit back and take stock, so that he follow up follows up a tried and tested strategy. You can bet that band mate Liam Payne, who has yet to release a solo single, will be watching cautiously from the wings, and no doubt is taking notes.