MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Who Is One Direction, and Why Should You Care?

Just when you thought boy bands had gone the way of the dinosaur…there’s Up All Night, the debut recording from One Direction.

One Direction, the UK’s latest incarnation of the N-SYNC-esque version of boy-band pop (complete with the occasional New Kids On the Block falsetto riff), would seem at first glance to be an unlikely pick to start off at the top of the US sales charts. In my humble opinion, here’s what they’ve got going against them:

  1. They are a band assembled from talent show flush-outs. One Direction was actually formed by the judges on the UK’s Season 7 of The X-Factor, after each of the boys were deemed not solid enough to proceed as solo artists.  (The new band went on to place 3rd in the competition.)
  2. They are following a format that has already been done and overdone. The boy-band road is still deeply rutted, and there’s not a lot of room for uniqueness. (Heck, their song “One Thing” sounds like it purposely lifts its melody from “I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys.)
  3. They haven’t had a lot of exposure in the US. They are a UK band that is just getting started.

And yet—here we are. Up All Night has somehow managed to debut at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 here in the US, knocking Bruce Springsteen out of that slot after just one week—and keeping Adele from reclaiming it. They are, in fact, the first British group to debut in the States at No. 1.

Apparently, that Simon Cowell guy still knows what sells.

So, okay, by my tongue-in-cheek tone, you probably have figured out I’m not a big fan of boy bands in general. I dunno—maybe it’s because I’m not a teenage girl. Or perhaps I am wary of pop music that feels “manufactured” to make a few extra bucks. Don’t get me wrong—these guys have great voices and great harmonies, and many of the songs have great hooks. Up All Night is a well-produced album, at least by formula.

But maybe that’s what rubs me wrong—formula. Everything about One Direction seems formulaic to me—contrived. I personally would rather see these guys find a more original direction in which to focus their talent—because they do have some. Talent, that is.

The numbers don’t lie. These guys are selling records with this format, at least for now. Whether they can keep up this momentum by traveling this rut-ridden road remains to be seen. But for now, they’re here, topping the charts, and wooing young hearts. At the very least, when your “tween” daughter tells you she wants to download One Direction, you’ll know what she’s asking for.


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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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Posted in: Pop Music


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