No. 8: “Taken”
Sounds Like: Sasha Fierce’s latest, toned down for a younger set who isn’t looking to put a ring on it nor ring the alarm at the first sign of infidelity.
Pros: In the timeless “don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” genre, the once heartbroken find enlightenment through a healthier relationship and the practice of reciting Beyoncé-style affirmations each day. Written by all five guys, the song reveals the benefits time has on healing a wounded heart and ridding oneself of all doormat-like qualities for the future. It’s a kind and respectful approach to moving on, but not without the knife-twister that should haunt their former partner (especially when the inevitable video comes out): “This is not about you anymore.” Zayn’s bridge provides a nice departure from the basic melody as well as an assessment of this journey towards self-discovery.
Cons: A tad repetitive, if anything. The fact that the boys linger on just how much they’ve moved on tends to counteract the idea that they actually have.
Mom-Approved Moment: “It’s like I’m finally awake / And you’re just a beautiful mistake,” which endorses self-respect, while also paying the villain a compliment. Just because you’re heartbroken doesn’t mean you have to be impolite.
No. 7: “Up All Night”
Sounds Like: An soon-to-be party anthem, complete with accurate description of the destruction and soundtrack that can come with late-night excursions.
Pros: In between detailing the different activities on itinerary, Harry name-checks Katy Freaking Perry as being “on replay,” which is obviously the case in similar situations happening this very minute, but could never be more appropriate for a group of barely 20-somethings who came together after “I Kissed A Girl” had made the rounds. Between the clap-stomp breakdown and various decor casualties (RIP the table), this song has the greatest chance of finding itself next to timeless party jams from the female pop star they reference, or scoring this year’s Glee prom. It’s also their most direct attempt at more mature content, with notes that this after hours rendezvous is more of a party for two.
Cons: A song that immortalizes Katy Perry is either completely wonderful or entirely absurd, depending on your stance.
Mom-Approved Moment: Parental units might take issue with the boys encouraging their daughters to break curfew, but as long as it’s only to “jump around until we see the sun” (check your euphemisms at the door, please) and be told “she’s the one” by an attractive, successful young bloke, we suppose they’ll let it slide.
No. 6: “Stole My Heart”
Sounds Like: Dr. Luke, and specifically, Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” whose chorus is melodically replicated fairly explicitly by “Stole My Heart,” though with enough rhythmic and lyrical differentiation that it doesn’t feel like a direct rip-off. The lyrics are about 1D falling in love at first sight—well, almost first sight, as the group specifies “Took a minute, girl, to steal my heart tonight.”
Pros: The “eh-eh-eh-eh” echo after the chorus is a very nice touch, and the entire thing has a kind of liveliness to it missing from a lot of the second half of the album, and a feeling of being emotionally overwhelmed that’s highly appropriate for the song’s content. The part after the bridge where the song whirs to a stop before exploding into the final chorus is also very nice. Even if the whole thing is second-hand Lukasz, Jamie Scott, Brian Rawling and Paul Meehan do their pop overlord proud with their effort here.
Cons: The “Dynamite” similarities might put off those who still haven’t gotten over just how overplayed that song was a couple years back. And not a particularly large greivance, but with the album’s preponderance of song titles lifted from other places, they may as well have titled this one after the oft-repeated refrain of “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” Foreigner could’ve appreciated the shout-out.
Mom-Approved Moment: “There is no other place that I would rather be / Than right here with you tonight”
Adult Content?: “Your friends / They look good but you look better.” Uh-oh. This is always how the awkward three-way conversation gets started.
No. 5: “One Thing”
Sounds Like: Ever heard of a little song called “I Want It That Way“? Well, One Direction (and associated songwriters) certainly have, and their “One Thing” certainly sounds an awful lot like the Backstreet Boys’ classic, down to the main chorus sentiment of “IIII neeed that ooooone thiiiing” bearing more than faint echoes of “IIIII waaant it thaaaat waaaaayyy.” Same pop/rock blast, same vague lyrics about an intangible sensation…if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, BSB are gonna have the most swelled heads in the business after hearing this one.
Pros: “I Want it That Way” was a pretty decent pop song, if we recall, and “One Thing” is a tribute with an energy and a chorus worthy of its obvious predecessor. The “SO GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” that kicks off the refrain is a world-beater, and the slamming beat that underlines it is equally powerful. Also, it’s a proven fact of pop music, from Amerie to INXS: No song with the phrase “One Thing” in it is ever not good.
Cons: Some of the lyrics are a little bit hinky, especially in the first verse (“Shot me out the sky / You’re my kryptonite”—whatever, Superman). Also—where the hell is the final chorus key change? Clearly, there’s one lesson the group forgot to take from “That Way.”
Mom-Approved Moment: “I’ve tried to play it cool / But when I’m looking at you / I can never be brave / ‘Coz you make my heart race.”
No. 4: “Gotta Be You”
Sounds Like: A hypnotic non-apology ballad. Any true responsibility and meaningful lyrics are glossed over by soaring vocals as the fivesome harken back to fellow Brits The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony” with full string accompaniment leading to the chorus.
Pros: Even if they’re singing of (former) bad behavior, they know how to make it sound good. Liam packs a punch with his opening line, setting the remorseful tone and likely teaching the word “anointed” to some younger fans, before welcoming the remaining four to come together at the chorus where an oozing falsetto takes over and makes one forget any possible reason why said heartache may have occurred. Zayn takes the lead on an almost chanting plea (“Can we try one time, one more time?”), equipped with a repetitive “hey, hey, hey” that instantly sticks itself to your memory.
Cons: For all the work they do towards collective crooning, the lyrics never fully apologize for whatever indiscretion may have caused their ladies to lose their trust in the first place. Instead of explaining why they made a mess of her heart, they’d rather provide vague plans to fall in love in the future, that somehow transport one to that living, breathing J. Crew catalog where the voice of Harry Styles can make you forget your mom taught you that “once a cheater, always a cheater” bit.
Mom-Approved Moment: “But if you walk away / I know I’ll fade / ‘Cause there is nobody else.”
No. 3: “Tell Me a Lie”
Sounds Like: “Tell Me a Lie” is the latest in a glorious line of songs: those that sound like Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.” A wobbly synth butts in from time to time, and the producers’ve scattered a few electronic baubles throughout, but they’re the only signs we’re in this decade. Everything else is purely power-pop: the chugging guitar and soaring vocals, the stomp of a beat, the harpsichord line(!), the chorus that takes off as if rockets were attached.
Pros: In case we weren’t clear enough, “Since U Been Gone” is one of the best songs of the past 20 years. And when your album already namechecks Katy Perry (who’s written for and/or tried to emulate Clarkson) and when every single soars more, good to be emulating the best. Also, more songs should have harpsichord lines.
Cons: Maybe a tiny bit overproduced, but no worse than what’s on the radio. If anything, this should work in 1D’s favor.
For our top two songs on Up All Night, click next.