Monday, March 05, 2012

HEAR THIS: One Direction is "Beautiful"

"When you smile at the ground, it ain't hard to tell
You don't don't know you're beautiful
If only you saw what I could see
You'll understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe
You don't don't know you're beautiful
That's what makes you beautiful"
-"What Makes You Beautiful", One Direction

Well, 2012, bravo. You're officially carving yourself out to be the year that heralds the Return of the Boy Band to the pop music ether in America, and for that I couldn't be more grateful.

While the US inevitably scambles to put together a popalicious concoction of genially handsome boys singing cute songs that hit line-and-sinker to the heart of the everygirl (paging Big Time Rush to Stage 2, please), UK seems to have that ish on lock (and they have accents, to boot!). This week, the babes in The Wanted soared up to the Top 5 on the Hot 100 with their US debut "Glad You Came," a feat not even Canada's national treasure in Justin Bieber could do (and to this day, despite his omnicience, he only has one Top 5 hit to his name in the US in 2010's "Baby"). And already, yet another Brit boy band is starting to make moves to get the hearts pumping of American tweens (and um...not so tween..unless you could me as "tween" 24 and 25) -- One Direction.

The boys of One Direction have been dallying about the UK for a few years now, after coming in third on Britain's 2010 season of The X Factor (losing out to Rebecca Ferguson). "What Makes You Beautiful", their debut single, was released in the UK last fall and was recently crowned Best British Single at their version of the Grammy's, known as the Brit Awards. Their album, Up All Night, was released in the UK in November and has already sold close to a million copies worldwide. It will be released Stateside on March 13th. Their mentor in Simon Cowell has pulled out all the stops with production by Biff Stannard (Five, Marina & the Diamonds, Little Boots, Ellie Goulding, Kylie Minogue), Toby Gad (Fergie, The Veronicas, Beyonce, Jordin Sparks) and RedOne (Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Kat DeLuna, Enrique Iglesias, but do I really need to list more?), and a writing nod by Kelly Clarkson in the cut "Tell Me A Lie".

Overall, the boys of One Direction (who hail from either England or Ireland), ranging in age from 18 year-old baby Harry to eldest 20-year-old Louis, remind me quite a lot of The Monkees (RIP Davy Jones!). And it's not just because of Harry's mop of curly hair that Nick Jonas from 2007 would be jealous of. While pre-established Brit boys in The Wanted have more of a "serious" boy band sound, One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" has a much softer, almost whimsical, more youthful breeze to it. That coupled with their boy-next-door appeal is their ticket, and they are milking it for all its worth. The instrumentation maddeningly recalls "Summer Nights" from the musical Grease (I seriously cannot be the only one who hears this!), and is so instantaneously smile-worthy its hard not to swoon and fall for its precociousnes upon first listen.

I understand that I'm a total sucker for any and all boy bands, but especially given the innundation I've overcome with my recent obsession with KPOP (boy bands), I'm realizing I'm actually rather picky. Like with all pop, if it doesn't make me want to hit replay by the end of the chorus, I tend to forget about it. "What Makes You Beautiful" is the perfect storm of (Western) teen pop, in that forgoes the heavyness in favor of bright lights and sweet glances, taking a page out of Bruno Mars' handbook of how to compliment the everygirl to make her feel special. Listening to this one makes me long for summer and a cute (boy band member) boyfriend to hold hands and eat ice cream with. Ah, to be 16 again.

Aren't they just positively adorable in their greeness? Sigh. Oh, One Direction. I think this might be the beginning of a very beautiful fangirlship.

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