Posted byon 08/27/2012 at 6:00 PM
The Popdust Files: 2012 popdust 40
#13 One Direction
2011 Ranking: —
What better proof of the boy band resurgence is there than One Direction, the cheek-pinchingly cute British-Irish quintet summoned in 2010 by Simon Cowell on The X Factor UK? Combining boyish charm and feel-good pop, 1D’s music is a throwback extending all the way ’60s love songs. They’re teen pin-ups that parents can also enjoy—and they’re earning plenty of admiration in the music industry, too, as they break sales records. And the only direction they’re headed is up.
The experience of playing to multiple cameras and, by extension, excited girls anxiously waiting to cast their votes at home has made the members of 1D comfortable and telegenic enough to handle the intrusive lenses of the American media. After Cowell’s program annointed the third-place finishers one of pop’s next great hopes, transition into the U.S. was fairly seamless, thanks to a few recognizable videos set atop a moving double-decker bus and on an anywhere-but-Britain beach.
One Direction’s young fans are digital natives, tirelessly promoting their favorite band on social media and helping rack up YouTube views for videos like ”What Makes You Beautiful” (over 218 million streams and counting). But they also buy albums. A lot of them. Up All Night reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 on its release in March, making One Direction the first British act to debut at the top spot, eclipsing the Spice Girls’ Spice, which arrived at No. 6 in 1997. Similar success was seen in sales for their live concert DVD and even on pre-orders for their new, yet to be heard, single.
Demand for seemingly everything 1D-related has been so high, promoters have had no problem reserving their venues for the group’s world tour—in 2013. They sold that out, too, in addition to a headlining gig at New York’s Madison Square Garden this December.
The boys have been on a constant run of touring and promotional appearances for the better part of two years, in effort to satisfy the needs of their fans, affectionately known as “Directioners.” Sticking it to whomever the group’s latest enemy or hater may be (whether or not the individual realizes they’re hating), 1D fans will do almost anything to protect their idols. They have earned the occasional few minutes of irrational freakoutery.
What can we say? Girls—and boys—love that famous Harry Styles swoop. In addition to lusting after their straight-out-of-J. Crew-catalog video wardrobe, their playful attitudes have led to no shortage of 1D fan fiction, detailing elaborate stories about the so-called “bromance” between two members in particular.
The various rumors about which very famous person Harry Styles has dated, or even looked at in public, keeps the British tabloid industry afloat.
They might look polite, but working with Cowell has taught them not to let anyone stand in their way. Specifically, One Direction can’t be bothered to pay any attention to a trademark infringement lawsuit, or any other similarly named group of lesser importance.
Their television skills have helped them corner the kids’ market, securing a guest spot on iCarly, as well as introduced them to the late-night audience, with a gig on Saturday Night Live—sketch included—in April.
But perhaps the most telling sign of their rise to dominance can be seen in their invitations to attend some of pop culture biggest nights. One Direction’s inclusion in the London Olympics’ Closing Ceremonies. In “A Symphony of British Music,” 1D were invited to sharing the stage with Brits like Paul McCartney and Liam Gallagher, no small feat for a group who’d just celebrated two years together.
At this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, 1D was heavily used to promote the show, and delivered on their generous primetime gig and front-row seating with a squee-inducing live performance and not one, but two, utterly precious acceptance speeches to go along with their first Moonmen.
Demand for new One Direction is so high, the threat of unexpected leaks forced the group to release “Live While We’re Young,” the peppy, meme-worthy lead single from November’s Take Me Home, and its soaking wet music video earlier than planned.
With an album Harry claims will be better than their massive debut, the aforementioned world tour kicking off in the new year and the hope that all three dimensions of the group will soon be available for gawking at a theater near you, the public’s appetite for One Direction seems nowhere near satisfied. This boy band fad ain’t fading quite yet.
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