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One Direction: To the Top

Caelin Miltko | Thursday, December 5, 2013


Scene Writer

With the release of “Best Song Ever” in July, I couldn’t say that I predicted any change in what I perceived as One Direction’s signature very boy band, very pop sound. While I guessed the part of me that loves the Backstreet Boys would enjoy “Midnight Memories” intensely, I didn’t expect anything different from their previous two albums.

The new album is much more guitar-based than either “Take Me Home” or “Up All Night” with the added bonus that the boys themselves actually wrote the songs (a skill I’ve always admired). That being said, the album does not represent a significant shift in what has made the band so popular – the songs are still odes to young love meant to make teenage girls swoon with tenaciously catchy lyrics that stay in your head for days.

One Direction’s new album comes right off the heels of their “Take Me Home” tour. 

It is the group’s third album since their debut as a group on Britain’s “The X-Factor” and their subsequent signing with Simon Cowell’s Syco Records. Almost two weeks after its official release date, “Midnight Memories” has topped the U.S. charts, becoming the first group to reach No. 1 with three consecutive albums since The Monkees in 1967.

The second single off the album, “Story of My Life” is the only one written by all five members of the band. As an introduction to the album, it definitely represented the shift One Direction tries to make in “Midnight Memories” better than “Best Song Ever.”

The sixth track on the album, “Don’t Forget Where You Belong,” was written by band member Niall Horan and Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones and Dougie Poynter of McFly. The song focuses on harmonies between the five boys of One Direction as they give homage to the changes in their lives while expressing their love for home.

The album also allowed some of the boys to show off their range as the lead vocals where in previous albums Harry Styles had dominated the vocals. Specifically standing out here are the songs “Strong” and “Right Now.”

“Strong” was co-written by band members Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson and features Zayn Malik. Malik has the opportunity to show off his vocal range, opening up the ballad with a deep sound that fans didn’t necessarily expect from the boy typically relied upon to reach the high notes. 

Payne, Styles and Tomlinson with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic wrote “Right Now.” It features Tomlinson on lead vocals, providing further variety for a band that had typically relied on Styles’ voice for songs like this.

For those into something with a little more rock style, “Little Black Dress” will suit them perfectly. The 10th track on the album picks up the pace on the album and offers a different type of dance tune than typically offered by the band. Guitar-based, the song has been heralded as a throwback to the rock bands of the 70s and 80s.

“Through the Dark” is a love ballad that will pull at any girl’s heartstrings. It’s one of the songs that reminds many girls why they are just a little bit in love with the boy band, as they promise “to carry you over fire and water for your love.”

As a dancing tune, “Does He Know?” takes the album. It’s the type of song that induces foot tapping and wilr dancing and lip-synching when the roommate’s gone. 

Overall, “Midnight Memories” offers minor shifts in One Direction’s sound making them more appealing as a boy band even if they never quite find a theme outside of young love and heartbreak. For fans, the new album offers a slightly edgier set on their old themes and for others, “Midnight Memories” offers something good as well.

Contact Caelin Miltko at                                     cmoriari@nd.edu