Beautiful . . .
and form a worldwide community, as well as presenting them with a direct connection to their idols in a way that globe-dominating pop acts hadn’t previously proffered.
The power of social media continues to keep the 1D machine well-oiled, even on smaller, local scales. Brian Maher, the music director of Dublin-based radio station Spin 1038, says that requests for One Direction songs come mainly through Twitter these days.
“That kind of age group is quite interactive with social media,” he explains. “When you play one of the band’s songs, you can see straight away that fans are tweeting stuff like ‘@spin1038 are playing One Direction #whateverthenameofthesongis’ and there’s a better response in that way. Our nightly request show, TRL, also does a thing called ‘The Tweet Chart’, where people can tweet to vote for their favourite songs, and One Direction would definitely be one of the most popular bands because their fans’ age group is slightly more in tune with that newer technology.”
Yet Maher thinks that the group’s music has become less significant in recent years as their individual personas have come to the fore. Playlisting the latest 1D song may have been imperative a couple of years ago, but these days it’s dependent on the specific song.
“They still have a big fanbase, but musicwise, I think they’ve kind of tapered off,” he says. “At Spin, we would always get their single and listen to it, but their current single [slushy ballad You and I] is only played on [Spin 1038 shows] The Zoo Crew and TRL as requested – it’s not on our general playlist. It’s for a younger audience; we know that our older audience wouldn’t necessarily want to hear the brand new One Direction song. The ones that do well are the ones that are slightly more established, like Live While You’re Young or Little Things.”
So, what direction can the ’Direction take next? They have already had their own movie (another one has recently been announced), multiple books, dolls, cardboard cut-outs and every item of merchandise you can imagine branded with their logo – but given that their fanbase is growing up and moving on, is their star already on the descent?
Reviews of their most recent album, Midnight Memories, have been mixed, with many deeming it too “mature” for its own good. Darren Reinhardt of Sony understandably puts an optimistic spin on their newfound “maturity”, citing the recent global hit Story Of My Life, as a song that “has opened more doors for them across wider age demographics”.
Still, suggestions abound that the group’s current stadium world tour may well be the apex of their careers; topics such as ‘When Do You Think Harry Will Leave One Direction?’ have already started to crop up on pop message boards, while the writing credits of their last album are telling, in that Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne have been significantly more active in co-writes than their bandmates.
In short, it’s unlikely that One Direction will become The Rolling Stones of the pop world. There’ll be another band along to take their place eventually. They are there to plug a gap in the market, to sate the craving of confused, hormonally disordered adolescents on a mass scale in the same way as The Beatles did in the 1960s, The Osmonds did in the 1970s, New Kids on the Block did in the 1980s and Backstreet Boys did in the 1990s.
So if you’re at Croke Park next weekend either as a chaperone or as a willing attendee and you find yourself inadvertently humming along to Best Song Ever or holding a glowstick aloft for Story of My Life, as the teenybopper beside you freaks out, remember this: all things must pass. Give ’em two more years. Oh, and bring earplugs.
One Direction play Croke Park next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 23rd-25th