I don't live under a rock. But back in January when my 14-year-old daughter asked if I'd get tickets so she and a friend could see One Direction perform a one-night-only gig at Radio City Music Hall, I said, "Who?"
I don't know a single person on either side of the Atlantic-- and beyond- - who says "Who?" any longer. Move over, Justin Bieber.
That night, we went on the Radio City Music Hall and TicketMaster websites. Sold out. I checked a few of the online ticket resellers only to find that they were already selling at $350 plus for not-such-great seats. And One Direction wasn't even the headline band! It was Big Time Rush, who has been completely overshadowed and overtaken by the charm, talent and immense popularity of the five young men who make up One Direction.
After their sold-out NYC concert, they appeared on the Kids Choice Awards and the Today Show, and soon will be on the hit kids' series, iCarly and Saturday Night Live. In case you've heard of them but haven't actually heard them, here's the Today Show segment, on which they perform their most popular hit which puts teenaged girls into a frenzy:
One Direction has taken America by storm and has single-handedly (or better stated, five-handedly) resurrected the 'boy bands' phenomenon and kick-started the British invasion of 2012. Formed on Britain's "X Factor," One Direction's first album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. "Up All Night" sold 176,000 copies and gave One Direction the distinction of being the first British group to enter the chart at this position.
Yes, they did what the Beatles, alas, did not.
They are adorable and actually have talent. Each member has a distinctive voice. My daughter (and millions of other girls) knows whether it's Niall, Harry, Louis, Liam or Zayn doing the singing at any given point in the song, and she knows the words by heart.
While I would never seriously compare them to the Beatles, it's hard not to put them in the same paragraph when I think about my own experience as a teen and how Paul, George, John and Ringo invaded our hearts and minds with songs about wanting to hold our hands. It truly was magical, and I, for one, am thrilled that our girls have the opportunity to experience something close to what we had with the Beatles. In this crazy, mixed-up angry world in which we are living, One Direction is a true breath of fresh air. And young girls (backed by allowance or advance loans from parents) showed the mighty strength of their purchasing power by staying up until midnight to push the album sales to the #1 spot. The girls of America have spoken.
Paul McCartney said in a recent interview,
There are so many bands who all get called 'the next Beatles'. Suddenly it puts an awful lot of pressure on them to be the next Beatles. Oasis were 'the next Beatles' once, if you remember. It's a pressure, because suddenly you've got to live up to all the things that we did, and it was a different time. So let's just call them 'the next terrific band.'
Call them what you will, but barring any major PR gaffes (a la Lindsay Lohan), I predict they'll be around for a while.
During spring break this year, my girls (14 and 18) and I took an eight-hour road trip to Virginia to visit family. In the past, I would squirm in my seat as I listened to some of the lyrics of the hit songs on the radio. Far too many were vulgar, highly sexualized and simply inappropriate. Too many were negative and filled with a sense of hopelessness. And so many were just plain awful.
On this trip, because my daughters insisted on playing the new One Direction album -- except for the few breaks we took and the times I insisted on listening to either classical or some classic rock just to shake things up a bit -- I had the opportunity to really listen to the words, and they are exactly what our girls need right now. They sing about trying harder at relationships, taking responsibility when things aren't working and trying to figure out how to make it better. They muse over why the focus of their love doesn't see what the rest of the world sees: how truly beautiful she is. They sing about love and hope and partnership, not about being a knight in shining armor who has come to rescue the damsel in distress. The songs are empowering because they are unabashedly romantic.
The secret to their success? One Direction songs are to pop music what the "Twilight" series is to books: teen love and yearning without the sex. Definitely mother approved.
I am a fan. I can now sing along to almost every song (just not in public, a "daughter rule"), can pretty much distinguish Niall from Harry, and will have fun watching iCarly and SNL right along with my daughters. And I'll smile knowing that I won't be the only mom tuning in.
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Barbara Hannah Grufferman is President of Best of Everything Media, Inc., author of The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts' Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More, and is at work on two new books, Fifty Rules, and The 50% Solution to a Better Life, both of which will be published in 2012. For more information visit www.bestofeverythingafter50.com.