One Direction takes over pop rock
One Direction, five amiable young men under the age of twenty-one who came together in England, on the set of “The X Factor,” has taken over America. The band’s record, “Up All Night,” which was released in March, became the first début album by a British group to enter the American charts at No. 1. “Up All Night” has sold more than a million copies, and more than five million digital tracks. In December, the band will headline at Madison Square Garden. It is the newest standard-bearer of an old form: the boy band.
[...] “We’re five lads in a band,” Payne said. “Boy bands aren’t all about dancing and being structured and wearing the same clothes.”
Not only is this statement a dismissal of twenty years of unison dance routines and syncopated beats; it also signals One Direction’s desire to take its place in Britain’s lad culture, which has historically rejected boy bands, preferring rowdy acts like Oasis.
[...] What One Direction really sounds like, though, is a bunch of girls. The band plays a form of pop rock made popular, in the past ten years, by women. In it, details are either eliminated or enlarged to barn size: there are big hand claps, huge dropouts that spotlight a single word, even sirens.
[...] Malik has genuine swagger, and Styles has a shaggy amiability. The other three are of various heights, and that’s about all I can tell you.
[...] The album and the band are like a dull gray sphere, with few flaws and fewer distinguishing marks. The marketing plan seems to have been “Make no mistakes.”
[...] One Direction has no commercial need to change course, or to rough up its cuteness ahead of schedule. But the band needs one demonically well-built track, the kind of thing that [Max] Martin could provide.
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