Beau­ti­ful . . .

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY -

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

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