With their previous album selling 4 million copies and taking the world by storm, and a movie now under their belt, can anything stop One Direction’s latest LP, Four, from securing their place as one of the most popular bands in the world?
It is fair to say that the band have a rather large following, and far be it from me to try and destroy what they label as “the best British band the world has ever seen”. But I do feel their latest album is perhaps, somewhat lacking. Now, before I am subjected to abuse from any Directioners, I think you should give me a chance to evaluate the level of musicality in this album.
There is little point in evaluating the success the album will receive - we all know that teenage girls everywhere will devour this album and spend hours listening to it on repeat. The evidence for this is shown on iTunes already, as the album has already been reviewed 1,233 times, giving it an average of 4.5⁄5, despite the fact that it still hasn’t been released. There is also little point in trying to convince you of whether One Direction are good or not. This is because having an opinion on the band, whether positive or negative, seems to be innate to people these days. However, evaluating it against their previous album, Midnight Memories, may provide a useful review - here’s hoping.
The album opens with Steal My Girl, a song that is intrinsically catchy and pretty feel good. Within the first twenty seconds you can gauge an attempt at trying to produce a ballad. The synthy 1970s piano reminds me of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing - though lyrically, the song is rather different. The drums continuously cut out and rejoin, which keeps the melody from going stagnant. As can be expected, late in the song the band cuts out (apart from the violins) and then rejoins, building to a full chorus, mixed in with runs, fills, and chanting.
In terms of comparison, the first song that opens Midnight Memories is Best Song Ever. For me, the latter is far more entertaining than Steal My Girl. The sound is far less 70s and offers a more modern, far more catchy chorus. Another key song on the soon to be released album is Fire Proof and for me, this song starts much better than Steal My Girl as the drums maintain a good tempo for the song, rather than stopping and starting. However, I find it very difficult to move past the song’s lyrics:
It’s been so long, it’s been so long, Maybe you are fireproof, Cause nobody saves me, baby, The way you do.
Now I’m not normally one to point out moronic metaphors, but the song does not use this extended metaphor apart from in the chorus. Previous lyrics from the band have been questionable, but they’re usually more accessible or they at least make sense. What does this fire even represent? I was hoping the song would then go somewhere in either tempo or key, but it remains boringly straightforward.
Four represents the band’s attempt at being - dare I say - real musicians, as they have written most of the songs, something rather novel for the superstars. Here though, lies the problem. The boys can sing, they’re also attractive, thus their appeal. Yet they never wrote, or proclaimed to have written, their biggest hits - instead, professionals like Ed Sheeran, Rami Yacoub, and Carl Falk provided the band with their musicality. To be fair, it must be very tough for the boys as they have a very busy schedule, regularly tour the world, and thus may struggle to find inspiration. But One Direction should stick to the things they are good at: looking attractive, entertaining live shows, and interviews. Continuing to branch out into songwriting could damage their position as one of the most popular bands in the world.