One Direction’s success makes for an interesting case study. This is a boyband whose branding is more important than their music, who have escaped the X Factor bubble and risen to fame through sell out tours, a film and legions of crazily obsessed fans. They may have had nine top ten singles in the UK across their three albums, but for the most part their music is an afterthought.
Yet the boys have had greater involvement in the songwriting for ‘Midnight Memories’ which may lead you to think they’re taking the music a little more seriously. Unfortunately, serious equals dull.
The songs fit neatly into two camps. Firstly are the upbeat pop-rock tracks like lead single Best Song Ever, the very 80s Diana, the title track (ripped from I Love Rock and Roll) and Little Black Dress. These certainly fit the “edgier”, “rockier” tone they’ve been striving for, but lead the band down a void somewhere between pop and rock. They’re clearly trying to ‘mature’ and move away from the former, but they simply don’t have the cool to pull off the latter. The rest of the album comprises Mumford-esque power ballads, such as current single Story Of My Life and Through The Dark which both feature plenty of acoustic strumming. At times the songs do have a certain charm – the typical boyband fair of You & I (with its falsetto note leading into the final chorus) and the Ryan Tedder (of One Republic) penned Right Now. Mostly, though, ‘Midnight Memories’ is utterly lacking in thrills.
Lyrically, the boys do their best to inject some excitement, with plenty of (now customary) innuendo aimed squarely at teenage girls. “Said I had a dirty mouth, but she kissed me like she meant it”, they sing on Best Song Ever, whilst on the Gary Lightbody (yawn) penned Something Great they croon “You say we’re better off together in our bed”. Apparently this is what your younger sister is getting off on these days.
It takes until song thirteen to reach a decent pop track: Little White Lies. Written by should-be-popstar Ed Drewett, it takes a leaf out of Taylor Swift’s book with its dub-step infused pop and super catchy chorus. If the boys released a whole album like this then they’d likely deserve their success.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what drivel One Direction release as it’ll shoot up the charts regardless – the brand is simply too strong. Already ‘Midnight Memories’ is set to be the biggest selling album of the year. Life’s just not fair.
* Right Now
* Little White Lies
Listen: 'Midnight Memories' is available now.