One Direction: Cultivation and Expiration
    • MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2012

    • Posted by: Jean Lee

    I always thought "adults" were immune to the spells of contemporary boy bands. I was sure people past the age of twelve weren't susceptible to the seduction of the Jo' Bros and JBiebs (baby faced cuties plus catchy repetition). I was comforted by their exclusively pre-teen audience. But I was wrong. I was introduced to One Direction on one dreary May day, circa 2012, by one of my housemates. This girl, let's call her H, openly LOVES One Direction. After the legion of people who listened to Up All Night in the name of irony, I respected H's honesty. Regardless, I should not have accepted the invitation to watch "What Makes You Beautiful" with her. I only have myself to blame (I could not get the freaking song out of my head*).

    (Please, there is no pressure to click play.)

    I didn't have my eye glasses on (my sight is not stellar) and the boys of the "band" looked like colorful, dancing blobs. It didn't matter, I knew what they looked like. One Direction is, to put it sensitively, manufactured, and follows a very specific formula (the blonde one, the baby faced one, the one who sings all the solos). Boy bands are expensive because they require managers, song writers, and bands (i.e. this is what happens when no one in your "band" plays instruments or writes songs). They come when there is assurance of money making. One Direction did not practice in a garage/basement for years, play at an assortment of bars/coffee shops, or meet in the classroom of a conservatory. When the members of the group act like they don't know each other in interviews, it's because they don't. The group auditioned individually for reality show The X-Factor and was urged, by critique-heavy critic Simon Cowell, to join together. As a group, they still only came in third. (I apologize for filling your head with this information.)

    One Direction was then signed by Simon Cowell. Girls like H tried to argue on their behalf, saying "but they don't use choreography like they did in the 90s" and "they can all sing." Okay, whatever, their declarations of love targeted at pre-hormonal hair flipping girls will fade out, right? 1D has a lock on the recipe for guarenteed eleven-year-old ardor, that's all.

    I thought boy bands were a thing of the 90s but 1D has shown that boy bands, like Twilight Zone night terrors, are reoccurring. Music makers, back in the 60s, got a load of Beatlemania and couldn't get enough. It's too bad they got the mania and forgot the Beatles. But, then again, you can't manufacture timeless or innovation. The people responsible for One Direction wanted the girls jumping out of windows hoping to land on George or John (yeah, that actually happened) and didn't want "In My Life", "I Want to Hold your Hand," or "Octopus Garden" (does anyone else like Ringo as much as I do?).

    N'Sync launched in 1995 and lasted until 2002, when they stopped releasing music. The business venture lasted seven years and birthed Justin Timberlake, who lost in the battle for Justin Bieber ownership but brought "sexxy back," and was a legitimate pop star. The Backstreet Boys (I forgot there were more than three members) lasted from 1996 But, let's be real, that's not actually the reality. They are running on nostalgia fumes.

    Yeah, there will always be people who want to manufacture sound for the ka-ching and pre-teen girls ready to pick out their fav member. But, obviously, there's no longevity in this formula.

    I predict One Direction's end at the height of their success: an episode of South Park dedicated to them.


    *Ed. Note: more on pesky hooks here.

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