Let’s start with a bit of honesty: I am most definitely NOT in One Direction’s target demographic. Not only am I not a teenage female, but I am still reeling from the boy-band market over-saturation of the ‘90s, and I’m not at all excited about its apparent resurgence. Suffice it to say that with their sophomore album Take Me Home, One Direction had a long way to go to impress me.
But impress me they have. I gotta hand it to ’em: Take Me Home is a hit record by any standard of measurement.
Despite the numerous things that stacked the statistical odds against this band (namely, having a fairly unimaginative name, being a talent-show runner-up, and using the tired boy-band format as mentioned earlier), 1D also have some really good things going for them. For one thing, they have the full support of proven star-maker Simon Cowell, who had a hand in forming this vocal group from a group of British X-Factor contestants who fell through early in the competition. Add to that a team of some of the biggest producers in the industry today, throw together a track list written by some of today’s hottest songwriters (Ed Sheeran, Shellback and McFly’s Tom Fletcher among them), and add the strongest PR campaign money can buy, and you have a recipe for success.
The boys didn’t waste the opportunity. The already-hit single/opening track “Live While We’re Young” was just the beginning (literally); nearly every song on this record has the potential of being a smash hit single—the promotion team just has to take their pick. From the extremely hooky “C’mon C’mon” and “Kiss You” to the swooning ballads like “Little Things” and “Change My Mind,” the songs are well-constructed, flawlessly performed and elegantly produced.
Lyrically speaking, the songs on Take Me Home are directly aimed at the young hearthrobs’ target audience, each of them designed to weaken the knees of young females. But don’t be fooled by the boyish looks; the boys are aiming more for “mature” here, with lyrics that suggest more of a young adult romantic sensibility than a first crush. Certainly tame by today’s standards, but parents of young-uns still might have some ‘splaining to do with lyrics like “Tonight let’s get some.”
Ironically, perhaps my greatest compliment of this record is more about what the record doesn’t have, rather than what it has. While staying well within the boy-band vibe and mainstream pop, 1D has remarkably steered clear of some of the typical gimmicks currently used to make a record sound more, um, “current.” You’re not going to hear any guest rappers, and you’re not going to hear dubstep. Instead, the focus is placed squarely on the band’s strongest suit: their vocals. Very well done, in my opinion.
And so, apparently, the next boy-band craze is well underway, spearheaded by a group of mostly teenage British boys who almost washed out of X-Factor, but found their voice together. Hits like “What Makes You Beautiful” definitely put One Direction on the global map, but Take Me Home establishes them solidly in the “next big thing” category.