Midnight Memories, One Direction's highly anticipated new album, has "leaked" on iTunes. Many people have written about whether musicians leak their singles/albums on purpose. I'll save you the time and say I think there's some really smart PR that goes along with leaking an album. Did One Direction do it on purpose? I have no clue, although it did conveniently leak at midnight so you be the judge. Let's move on. Now I'll take on One Direction because apparently I want teens of the world to hate me. But first, I'd like to go on the record and say that I like Midnight Memories. I'm just utterly confused as to what we, the listeners, are supposed to think and where music is going from here.
It takes the first five seconds of listening to Midnight Memories to grasp that it's supposed to be a throwback to '70s/'80s rock. Or is it?
In a world where #ThrowbackThursdays and #FlashbackFridays dominate social media, I wonder, do teen girls -- who seem to live in a constant state of nostalgia -- get the clear '70s/'80s references? If they do, then I congratulate their parents. But, I would venture to argue most of their fans have no clue who The Who is, which is pretty important considering that the first 5 seconds of the album are the same as the famous Baba O'Riley chords. However, in a Simon Cowell manufactured pop band where the oldest member was born in 1991, a full twenty years before Baba O'Riley came out, do they understand what they're referencing? The song "Teenage Wasteland" seems to mesh perfectly with One Direction's hip, cool stay up all night teenage vibe. I'll give the boys credit and say they understand but their 13-year-old fans -- no way!
After much criticism, One Direction's producer, Julian Bunetta, came out with this statement: "At a certain point we recognized it had the same type of intro where there's a synth and a piano ... but we really tried to make sure that there was no intellectual property stolen or anything like that." Nice use of the phrase, "anything like that" Julian. Way to leave it open ended.
More of this criticism caused a worldwide Twitter trend of #donttouchbestsongever. This is the kind of dedicated fan base we're dealing with. They could not even entertain the idea that their lovely boys sampled a song or did something of questionable legality.
In a cool twist, Pete Townshend, The Who's chief songwriter and lead guitarist took to the The Who's official website to defend One Direction. He wrote, "No! I like the single. I like One Direction. The chords I used and the chords they used are the same three chords we've all been using in basic pop music." Then he adds a bit of flattery by saying, "One Direction are in my business, with a million fans, and I'm happy to think they may have been influenced a little bit by The Who."
However, my argument is not just with Best Song Ever; it's with the whole album. The third song titled "Diana", in a few hours, has already hit number 1 on iTunes and has gained criticism for sounding like Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" and The Police's "Don't Stand So Close To Me", or, as Twitter is saying, that song Mr. Schue and Rachel sing in Glee. Please, teen girls, Google The Police- it'll take you two minutes. Now let's move on to track number 4, the title track, "Midnight Memories", or should I say Def Leppard's, "Pour Some Sugar on Me." This song made my mouth drop with it's similarities. I could go on with side by side comparisons "Come on Eileen" and "Wake me up Before You Go Go" come to mind as I finish listening to the album.
The bigger question is still "Are we ready for an '80s comeback"? If that's where music is heading, then I'll whip out my scrunchie and jump on board. However, if we're supposed to listen to this album and think that it's original and unique, then it's something I cannot get behind. It seems to me that Twitter is overflowing with half of the 100 percent devoted fans that would praise a cat food jingle if One Direction were the ones singing it. The other half is slamming it for being too rock and that alone is hilarious.
So it's up to you, One Direction: are we going for an '80s nostalgic feel that could educate teen girls about the rock/pop gods that have come before you, or is this simply a failed attempt at faking uniqueness?
Follow Dana Elle Salzberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DanaElleS