I asked people over the last couple days a very simple question.
“What do you think of when you think of One Direction?”
Their answers ranged in response from “I don’t think of them” and “Aren’t they that young boy band from X Factor?” to “Isn’t one of them the guy who knocked up that blonde” and “I hear they do drugs and sleep around” to FINALLY “They’re so talented but under appreciated” and “They’re my life”.
I realized then how much people really don’t know about One Direction; and how little of that is due to the boys themselves.
1DHQ is a force to be reckoned with, we’ve seen it for years. Their team; including Modest, their PR reps, and people at their label have never given One Direction a fair chance in my opinion. They have spent years now focusing on their public image and not enough time focusing on their talent, their hearts, who the boys truly are.
So yes, some people may still think of One Direction as the young boy band from X Factor, some may not consider them at all, and some may only know them for their scandal, but by the end of this, I hope those minds have changed.
The boys in One Direction didn’t know each other before the The X Factor. (Okay MAYBE two of them did but I am not getting off topic here.) Point of the matter is, they were all there to make their dreams come true; separately, however Simon saw something in them together that he didn’t quite see in them apart. Harry, Louis, Liam, Zayn, and Niall were put together in One Direction and the music world hasn’t quite been the same since.
Although One Direction didn’t win their season of The X Factor; they won the hearts of millions of adoring fans, and with that, their story truly began.
If you look back to Up All Night, One Direction’s first album, you’re met with a very upbeat, pop vibe. The lyrics are showcased by their sweet but powerful voices, still showcasing a bit of their youth. It was the perfect album for an emerging pop group to make a statement, the songs ranged from fast and fun like ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ and ‘One Thing’ to sweet and romantic like ‘Gotta Be You’ and ‘Save You Tonight’. Didn’t every young person who bought this CD sing the songs, watch the WMYB video and wish they were actually singing it to them? You know you did, it’s okay! The boys of One Direction took the world by storm, their album telling us all that they were here, they were lovely, and they were ready to rock our worlds. Up All Night became the third best selling album of 2012, and in the US went straight to number 1 on Billboard 200 chart making One Direction the first UK musicians to debut at number 1 on the US chart with their first album! For a band just starting off, I’d say that’s a heck of a way to do it.
Take Me Home was One Direction’s follow up album to the largely successful Up All Night. The lyrics on this album still talked about fun and love, but it added some more grown up feelings of that love being unrequited, of love that you might have to work for. Their lyrics matured as did their voices making this album showcase them in a bit of a different light. The depth of this album was under appreciated by people who didn’t listen to them more than on the radio. The well known songs from the album are great, but songs like ‘They Don’t Know About Us’ and ‘Over Again’ didn’t get much mainstream attention, and they should have. All in all this album was equally as successful. It was the fourth best selling album of 2013, and again debuted number 1 on the US chart making One Direction the only act since Danity Kane to have both of their albums debut at number 1 on Billboard 200 chart!
Midnight Memories brought a new look, feel, and sound for One Direction. The boys no longer looked like cherub faced 16 year olds, nor did they sound like them. One Direction had more of a hand in the production process of this album and the lyrics again took a deeper look into young adulthood, not just the fun free aspects of life, but the real parts, the parts that make us who we are. Midnight Memories received mixed reviews, some saying it was too grown up for their target audience, others saying the songs were too brooding, but whatever your point of view was, you were talking about them, and that did the trick. Midnight Memories became the fastest selling album in the UK since Michael Buble’s Christmas in 2011 and in America on Billboard 200 it ruled the chart again, making One Direction the only act to debut 3 records at number 1!
Four is ironically the last album with all five members of One Direction. It was released in 2014 and showed an entirely new side of the boys. Following in the steps of Midnight Memories, Four showed a mature sound and look to the boys. The boys spoke of the album and their pride in how much of a hand they had in writing the songs; and proud they should have been. With bangers like No Control, Stockholm Syndrome, Fireproof, Fools Gold, and 18…we were shown a deep look into the boys hearts and souls. I fell in love with this album, I don’t think it left my stereo for months, and months…and months. The spirit of this album was lovely, but only two singles were released from it, three if you include the fan release of No Control, and since Zayn Malik’s departure from the band, it’s not an album that we’ll see anything else from. It went to number one in the UK, and in the US, making One Direction the only musical act to debut all 4 albums at number 1.
I don’t know if you’re catching the same thing I am here, so just in case you aren’t I’ll spell it out. One Direction, Harry, Louis, Liam, and Niall are talented. Their music, their lyrics, their voices, and their heart make them an unstoppable force. The way they dedicate so much of themselves to their fans, to their music, to being in the band is just a better showcase of who they are as people. I dare to say One Direction is one of the most successful music acts of all time.
In 2015 One Direction won Top Touring Artist at the BBMA’s which was a well deserved win. I experienced my first One Direction concert on July 31st in Indianapolis and it was hands down the best concert I’ve ever attended, and I easily go to 20-30 a year. I am obsessed with music, with the atmosphere you’re in when you’re at a show, but something different happens at a One Direction concert than any other I’ve ever been to. The band gives off a charge, an energy and it happens from the moment you walk into the door and lasts until you leave. The lights go out and everyone loses their mind, the boys rush the stage with an insane presence that’s almost tangible, it feels like you could reach out and grab it. They pour their hearts into their performances, into their lyrics. They joke around on stage together, they make sure, on more than one occasion, they let the fans know how important they are, and more than any of that, they’re proud. They’re proud of who they are, of who they’ve become and what they’ve accomplished, and they deserve nothing less. I happened to be in attendance when One Direction sang Drag Me Down for the first time and the smiles in that stadium, not just from the boys, but from the fans, from the parents, from the friends who got drug along and didn’t really want to go…the smiles on every single face told a story, and that story had a tag line, and that tag line was: One Direction is here to stay.
Liam also let us know that their fifth studio album has been recorded and they’ve just filmed their music video for Drag Me Down.
On the topic of Drag Me Down and the sheer talent of One Direction; it’s important to be noted that Drag Me Down went to number one in under an hour with absolutely no promo, no hint at a single, and being released in US time during the middle of the night. People went CRAZY for it. The sultry sound of their voices, the depth of the backbeat, the lyrics.
“I’ve got a river for a soul
and baby you’re a boat
baby you’re my only reason.
If I didn’t have you there would be nothing left
A shell of a man who could never be his best
If I didn’t have you I’d never see the sun
You taught me how to be someone.”
You can hear the desperation in their voices as they sing. Louis and Harry sing the same part of the song like a call and answer. Louis sounding needy and vulnerable while Harry jumps in sounding absolutely desperate and lovestruck.
Louis was quoted on GMA saying about DMD:
“As long as you’ve got someone there; you’re going to be alright.”
It also serves as an anthem, if the song was visual it would be a phoenix rising from the fire, it says I’m here, we’re all here and we notice you. It says we see you fans and we see what you do for us and we’re going to continue to do this, we’re going to be here and enjoy this journey together. It’s a statement, it’s a promise, it’s a guarantee.
On stage, the boys are absolute heroes, but off stage, they are too. The boys work with numerous charities throughout the year; both covered by the media and not. They tweet to fans who are sick, to organizations where kids need hope, and go to countries where people have nothing to raise awareness and show the need for change.
Earlier in 2015 the boys were part of a project called #Action1D; unfortunately the depth of this project will never truly be known because of the slew of rumors that came out at the same time. It’s honestly one of the most sad things that’s happened, in my opinion, to the boys in some time. They released a video telling us that it was OUR time to change the world that we live in, they told us about their own “actions” and how they wanted to change the world too. The project is over now, not that we still can’t call for change, but the lack of media coverage on the potential of #Action1D was sickening.
It’s not just the lack of coverage about who they are that hurts; it’s the focus on who they’re not.
One Direction was recently interviewed for The View and I couldn’t get through it without rolling my eyes and feeling sick. Not because it was the first interview I’d seen like that, and I know it won’t be the last, but because Harry, Liam, Louis, and Niall just released a single that rocked everyone and the only questions that these “professionals” could think to ask were questions like “sweat pants or onesies” “would you want to be on a show where girls make out with you” and worse than that, they were looked at, touched, and treated like sexual objects.
You can see the clear unhappiness on all of their faces, Harry, the sweetest boy in the band, even rolls his eyes at one of them and they still just laughed and thought what they were doing was okay, was professional, was admirable.
This is where you start to wonder; who decides where the focus is placed in terms of One Direction, and why are they doing such a terrible job at it?
Why have people decided for years to force the image down our throats that One Direction are young men who only care about what women they can get into bed with, what drinks or drugs they can get their hands on, and what ways they can make their futures better selfishly. Why have they tried to make it seem like there is tension between the band, that they’d rather spend their time apart than together, and why have us, the fans, been blamed?
Why was it better to sell their image of sex and fame and scandal than selling their music, selling their stories, allowing them to speak for themselves?
I can’t speak to 1DHQ, or to Modest, or to whoever is making these decisions but I can write here and hope someone reads it, that someone sees it and questions it too. I can write here and hope that someone who is money hungry and putting their own pocketbook in front of the well being of these young men sees it and doesn’t sleep as easy tonight. I can say that the boys deserve better, that they deserve more and hope that even if it doesn’t change anything, it at least makes someone think, because one small thought is all it really takes to create real, big, change. One small thought and one small act and for the boys, I’ll try as hard as I can.
Harry is not a womanizer who’s waiting to abandon his band; he’s a young man with a heart of gold. A young man who dedicates himself to his music, his bandmates, and his fans. A young man who knows the importance of relationships and holds on to them, someone who makes people happy just by existing. He does so much for his community, does so much for the world, and really tries to make a difference. Just in showing his support for the underdogs, he brings focus to things that most people wouldn’t pay enough attention to.
Louis isn’t some soon to be dead beat who smokes pot and parties too hard; he’s a young man with a tough exterior only because it’s been forced upon him. Underneath it, he’s vulnerable, he’s quirky, he’s adorable and he’s genuine. He’s got a loud bark and he’ll bite anyone who offends the people he loves, his band, his fans, his friends. He’s a protector, he’s sunshine, he’s a little bit dangerous but a whole lot soft. He’s selfless, he gives and spends his time trying to make the lives of people less fortunate, better. He uses his charm and his smile and his big heart to impact people, to let fans know that who we are is good enough, that we’re brave, that we’re worth it. He gives so much to kids who are sick, he tweets their causes and visits them at home or in hospital and he truly never stops looking for ways to help more.
Liam isn’t just someone to be looked over, the easy one to like because there’s not much scandal with him; he’s the glue of the band. He’s got amazing vocal abilities that he’s been showcasing recently, he takes time out for his fans, he’s one of the most active with us on social media. He’s the kind of person who makes you feel like you’re important, special. I saw him from above in Chicago where he greeted girls and as my friend and I watched him we were blown away. He took time to each fan individually, signing things, talking to them, taking photos. His heart is so large and so welcoming.
Niall isn’t just the irish one who loves pints and gets seen with different girls; Niall is the soul of the band. Niall keeps One Direction youthful, he keeps it raw and fun and free. Niall has this spirit about him that is almost like, indescribable, but the best way to try is to say that he almost lights you up. He’s positivity in human form, he’s sweet to the fans, congratulatory to ANYTHING and EVERYTHING his band mates do, he takes time to care about his friends and family at home. He’s never lost who he was, never let the fame change him. He loves openly and widely and he’s got so much talent that he’s finally becoming confident enough to really own.
I could go on for days, really, I could write articles upon articles about how great the boys are individually and together, but for every good thing that’s said about them it seems like 10 bad ones follow.
Harry, Louis, Niall, Liam; real One Direction fans know who you are, we love you for who you are and we understand that the public image portrayed of you isn’t right. We’ve seen the way you’ve let us into your hearts, the way you’ve tried to tell us your stories when you’ve been unable to use your voices, and we’ve paid attention. We love you for your kindness, your support to us, and for the sheer and raw talent that each of you bring to the band.
My hope is that the general public, the sometimes fans, or the fans who get caught up in the dramatics can read this; take a breath, and remember who you are, remember why we’re all here.
If you do one thing today; share this article, gift a lesser known One Direction song to a friend, to a stranger. Post a video on your timeline, quote their lyrics, talk about their accomplishments. Today, make it your goal to spread at least ONE positive thing about the boys to whoever you can. The boys make our lives better, let’s help do the same for them. Let’s ignore the scandals, let’s let the rumors die, let’s work together to not give in to the negative, to rise above and force people to hear us.
We don’t want you to hurt, tire out, and drag the boys through the mud, we want you to focus on who they are as people, as a band, and to showcase their talent.
We can do it, we can make a change for them. We’re capable of anything when we come together, and now more than ever, they need it just as much as we do.
We’ve supported you since day one Niall, Liam, Harry, and Louis, and we’re not going anywhere now.
Til the end, right lads?