In order of most to least fuckable, One Direction consists of five men who are over the age of consent named Harry, Zayn, Liam, Niall, and Louis. If you live in a naive bubble where commercial dance-pop simply isn’t on your radar despite the millions of albums they’ve sold and the billions of YouTube plays they’ve accrued, here’s what else you need to know: 1D is a ridiculously popular boy band from London, England, who perform catchy, tightly produced songs that somehow manage to be saccharine and nonthreatening as they taunt you with lyrics about how they’re going to plow your daughter. Yes, this impeccably marketed and well-choreographed song-and-dance machine probably sounds all too familiar to you. But here’s the thing: One Direction is actually quite incredible.
Oh, sure, along with its music, there are apps, clothing lines, fragrances, and board games with the members’ handsome faces plastered all over them. But crass commercialism is part and parcel of any decent pop project. Andy Warhol once said: “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
Let’s hope these lads have another 15 minutes of fame left in them, because the empire they’ve built up in three years is awe-inspiring. Hell, I’m positive Warhol would even love their cover that mashes up Blondie’s “One Way or Another” and the Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks”. “Gee, that’s great,” he’d say.
That pop music is vapid and lacking substance is an ignorant notion. Pop is the most interesting and culturally relevant music out there. Rock, EDM, and their multitude of indie subgenres are what’s moribund these days. I’ll happily give the latest One Direction album a play over some Bearhunter side project that was anointed a nine-point-whatever on a sycophantic music blog last week.
Boy bands—from Hanson to NKOTB to the Rolling Stones—have always had a difficult time being taken seriously. That’s a damn shame, because they’re tackling real issues with their music, and it speaks on a global scale to young women dealing with their hormones. Most bands I catch are bar window-dressing who interrupt my important conversations. Have you ever seen the blissed-out expression on a Directioner’s face when they hear “What Makes You Beautiful” performed live? It stimulates a spiritual experience that’s more powerful than ayahuasca could ever give them.
Appealing largely to women is a sure-fire way to never get the critical recognition you deserve. Plain and simple, it’s snobbishness that’s rooted in sexism. You see, music writing is overpopulated with annoying white dudes. (I’d know. I’m one of them and still curse my parents to this day because of it. Inconsiderate assholes.)
At present, think tanks made up of our country’s biggest music nerds are busy heaping praise, awards, and novelty-size cheques on Arcade Fire, Feist, and Metric—basically the aural equivalent of a dogs-playing-poker poster. (And people wonder why the music and publishing industries are in the shitter.)
While this is going on, timeless classics by Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, which have the grandness and beauty of Jeff Koons sculptures, get ignored. A hundred years from now, I guarantee “Baby” and “Call Me Maybe” will still be around and making us smile. The mere mention of boring Cancon acts will get you banished to the Forbidden Zone where you’ll have to deal with cannibals.
So have fun stroking your chins, making snide remarks, and being too cool to look like you’re having a good time in half-empty concert venues this weekend, fuckers. I’ll be at the One Direction show in a stadium full of people who are having the time of their lives. Hopefully, Harry notices me, but failing that, I’d settle for Louis.
photo courtesy of the georgia straight
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in july 2013