You've probably heard of them by now. (And no, they're not a fictional, Midwestern show choir group from Glee.) This quintet from the United Kingdom had its debut album enter the American charts at #1 last month and sold out New York City's Madison Square Garden in less than 10 minutes. Initially the five had auditioned for and competed on the United Kingdom's The X Factor individually, but when each did not place for solo performances, guest judge Nicole Scherzinger suggested the boys team up, consequently leading them to form their group and secure a spot in the group category.
Clearly, for better of for worse, One Direction is a big deal -- and if history is an indicator of musical success, the Brits are here to stay!
Although One Direction did not win The X Factor, Simon Cowell signed them to his record label Syco Music. The boys were coiffed, put into color-coordinated outfits for each performance and photoshoot, and taught basic dances for their songs. Ranging from 18 to 20 years old, the five British and Irish boys have captivated the fanbase previously reserved for Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson offer what neither Bieber and Gomez never could: the new British Invasion.
"What Makes You Beautiful" is One Direction's most popular single, with over 100 million views on its YouTube music video. The single's lyrics are minimally complex, rhyming, at the beginning, the words "insecure" and "what for." "What Makes You Beautiful" has a great beat, and as an uptempo teen pop song, it also manages to slow down for Harry Styles' bridge toward the end of the track. Obviously, the five have vocal talent, and the single showcases it well. Directed by John Urbano, the music video features the boys in Malibu, running in the sand and splashing in the waves. "What Makes You Beautiful" truly lends itself to this beach scene, and One Direction seemed to really enjoy itself during the shoot. One Direction brings us back to the reality that they're just young men infatuated with light-hearted romances and road trips with friends.
"Tell Me a Lie" was co-written by Kelly Clarkson, and you can definitely hear it! The same spunk, defiant attitude, and tempo can be found all over Clarkson's albums, and this song sound like it could have come straight from one of those albums. The song lends itself to head-swinging and foot-tapping. You can tell that Zayn Malik is straining to put his best vocals forward for this song. And like P!nk, Adam Lambert, and Kelly Clarkson herself have demonstrated, verging ever-so-close to the edge of your vocal power produces incredible results. Malik's voice is perfectly toned for a song backed by dance music.
"Gotta Be You" is a more serious song than the others on Up All Night. Its composition sounds like it belongs on a OneRepublic album, full of strong snare beats and extended notes. The beginning bars of "Gotta Be You" actually sounds a lot like The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony." The boys in "Gotta Be You" capitalize on their respective vocal ranges and strengths. One Direction harmonizes throughout the choruses and sings with a maturity level that adult audiences can appreciate, potentially widening the band's fanbase and radioplay.
Up All Night is full of surprisingly varied tracks, songs with British accents that somehow managed to sneak in, and a generally over-romantic cheesiness that can only be attributed to a boy band. A piece of advice: One Direction, please augment the hand-clapping, increase the amount of hair-sweeping, keep pounding on your chests in an over-dramatic way, continue to roll up your suit-jacket sleeves, and enjoy the immense worldwide success coming your way!