|One Direction, with Irish star Niall Horan far right.|
It's amazing how living in a house with teenaged daughters alters what you listen to.
As a critic, I have sat out on the whole One Direction phenomenon, despite the fact that Irish Voice and Irish Central readers and bloggers have an insatiable appetite for anything that has to do with them.
As a critic the one dimensional One Direction never had an appeal, and if I’m being honest, spending any time investigating artistic merit or cultural impact seemed almost beneath me.
That’s where the teenaged girls come in. Posters of Niall Horan, the Irish heartthrob of the group, started creeping up on the walls of their bedrooms. The single “What Makes You Beautiful” was requested at maximum volume from the backseat every time it popped up on the radio.
The inevitable happened -- I would hum the song absent-mindedly and if my steering wheel could talk, it would report that I would yell out the lyrics at the top of my lungs when no one else was in the car. Alas, the ear worm had burrowed deep in the skull, hatching eggs at an alarming rate.
Teenaged attention spans being as short as they are, Liam, Zayn, Niall, Louis and Harry make up the One Direction phenomenon. Last week they released Take Me Home, their second album in less than a year.
Zayn kicks things off with “Kiss You,” an infectious glob of bubblegum pop.
“Oh, I just wanna take you anywhere that you like/We could go out any day, any night/Baby I'll take you there, take you there,” he sings, before the boys in the band kick in with the chorus, “To-o-uch/You get this kind of, ru-u-ush/Baby say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah/If you don't wanna, take it slow/And you just wanna, take me home/Baby say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah, indeed!
Over an acoustic guitar lick that sounds suspiciously like the Rolling Stones’ “As Tears Go By,” Liam will melt the hearts of millions of girls of all shapes and sizes when he sings, “You've never loved/Your stomach or your thighs/The dimples in your back at the bottom of your spine/But I'll love them endlessly,” before assuring his fans that he’s “in love with you and all these little things.”
Not sure how that will play out as gaggles of top-shelf swimsuit models attempt to become Mrs. Liam, but fair play to him if the fans buy on this!
There are plenty of syrupy, emotionally-stunted ballads like “They Don’t Know About Us” to soak the pillows with innocent tears of preteen girls everywhere, which is the end goal of any boy band worth the salt of a tear.
Against my better judgment, I found myself humming the infectious melody of “I Would” and the requisite whistling part that weaves in between verses. “She’s Not Afraid” is a great driving song, which means I might be tempted to break the speed limit on the way to band practice pickup.
The iTunes version completes exclusive concert videos of the band working that magic onstage. They are appealing performances, with each singer allowed to move freely as an expression of themselves instead of precise choreography that saps the performer’s personality.
With melodies that are stickier than the tape that holds their posters onto my daughter’s walls, windblown hair, chiseled features and great voices, One Direction isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And that’s probably a good thing.
The One Direction juggernaut is engineered by X Factor judge Simon Cowell, who has shrewdly packaged exclusive goodies across multiple formats. Translation -- parents have to buy the iTunes yearbook digital version on midnight of the release date because sending your daughter into school without having something to talk about with their friends before the morning bell is considered to be child abuse.
Then you need to run to Target after school to get the same songs packaged with exclusives not found on the iTunes edition.