When I was 16, I would subtly, not so subtly, hint to the fact that I absolutely loved One Direction. Yes, that’s right, me. The same girl who would constantly preach that she listened to indie pop because it was, “pop music with substance”.
However, I couldn’t deny that I owned, not only, Up All Night, but I also owned Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, and Midnight Memories: The Deluxe Edition. This didn’t stop at just records, no it did not. I also had my fair share of One Direction paraphernalia, complete with One Direction notebooks, stickers, tattoos and keychain, okay so maybe not the keychain. I could go on and on about my infinite love for these five UK boys, but that’s not what you’re here to read about, and that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
Earlier this year, I did a project on One Direction and their fanbase for one of my media studies classes. While it was interesting reading about how how One Direction was the catalyst online fandoms, their part in parasocial relationships and all of that academia talk, it was even more interesting to listen to them again. When I first listened to One Direction, I was maybe 15, 16 and just had a good time singing along, but now, at 22, I have a new appreciation for how music is made and crafted and I must say, One Direction, made some really good music.
One Direction provided us with music that was well layered, well constructed and, at the end of the day, was extremely enjoyable. However, they weren’t just providing us with the traditional bubblegum pop everyone tries to invalidate; they gave us pop rock with their third studio album, Midnight Memories, and indie pop/alternative overtones with their fourth studio album, Four. Haven’t heard Stockholm Syndrome or Girl Almighty? Hm, tragic.
This past June, I was able to see Harry Styles for a second time within the last year, but this most recent endeavor was a fan, and not a worker. What can I say? He was amazing! He brought a phenomenal stage presence, both he and the band sounded fantastic and the crowd had a heightened sense of enthusiasm you don’t always see at live shows.
I went to the concert with a good friend of mine, her invite a very last minute decision, and while she never really listened to One Direction at the height of their popularity, she found herself really enjoying Harry’s show. While we were driving to the show, I played his album so she would get familiar with his music. During Woman, my personal favorite, she had paused her make up routine and said, “Wait, THIS is Harry Styles? Where did this come from?” Her eyes wide.
After the concert, she realized she had a new love for Harry Styles she didn’t think she would ever have. As we were discussing her newfound love for not just his music, but his live show as well, I told her what I’ve been saying the last couple of months, “One Direction always made good music, but people never wanted to give them a try.”
Of course, when I say, “people” I don’t mean everyone. One Direction had and still have one of the most dedicated fanbases I’ve ever come across. However, there’s no denying that their fanbase is the reason self appointed music aficionados looked down upon One Direction. They refused to think that music that appealed to teenage girls could be good.
This, in no way, is a new narrative that’s pushed by people. Fans of N*Sync, the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, and even more current groups like BTS are often told, “you only like their music because you think they’re cute”. Whether you think the acts I’ve listed make good music is truly subjective, it’s not wrong to like whatever music you like, but writing off artists just because you think their fanbase is superficial? Once again, tragic.
We don’t only see this with boy bands either, we often see it with solo artists. A current artist I currently see this with, is a personal favorite of mine, Shawn Mendes.
His second studio album, ” Illuminate” featured the song, “Mercy” which showed listeners a rather soulful side of him. However, I was talking to someone about it, and they said, “You know Shawn Mendes is pretty good. His song Mercy? It’s pretty soulful, if they gave that to “an actual artist” like John Legend? Imagine how good it would be.”
I don’t know what credits someone as being an actual artist, but based off record sales and live performances, I think it would be appropriate to consider him such. But no, we can’t have that because his fanbase is filled with teenage girls so that’s not allowed. Which is tragic because Lost in Japan really is THAT song.
Overall, the point of this post is to bring up the fact that good music is out there, and it’s worth giving a try. Deciding to trivialize an artists’ work just because of their fanbase doesn’t mean you have a better taste in music. It only means that you could possibly be missing out on great music you might actually like. It’s not embarrassing to like popular music.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for you today and hopefully I’ll be back sooner than later. Bye for now.
Also, I’ve linked a This Is One Direction playlist for your convenience and listening pleasure. You’re welcome.