-->
Music

One Direction: Take Me Home

These may be the least articulate cads on the pop charts, but their beats speak volumes.


One Direction

Take Me Home

Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2012-11-13
UK Release Date: 2012-11-12
Amazon
iTunes

Throughout their two studio albums, the fresh-faced young skanks in One Direction have released only one song longer than four minutes. Maybe that’s the maximum length of their conquests. “Tonight let’s get some,” they sing in their latest hit single, “Live While We’re Young”, “and if we get together, don’t let the pictures leave your phone.” They pulled their wistful album title Take Me Home from the awesome “Kiss Me”, in which they sing to a new friend, “If you don’t wanna TAKE.. IT... SLOW... / And you just wanna TAKE... ME... HOME... / Baby say yeahyeahyeahhhhh.” (Cue a stadium full of tween girls answering, “Yeahyeahyeahhhhh.”) After an opening guitar riff resembling Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”, they turn “Change My Mind” into an afterparty sex jam: “We should say goodbye / Baby if you say you want me to stay / Stay for the night / I’ll change my mind.” The song neatly encapsulates the insecurities that plague the minds of sex addicts. We could go on and on.

Half the songs on Home, including those three, were co-written and produced by American Savan Kotecha and the Swedes Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub. (Yacoub did a bunch of those early Backstreet and Britney singles with Max Martin, the Swedish genius of gargantuan pop.) This team also produced One Direction’s “One Thing” and “What Makes You Beautiful”, two of 2012’s best singles, for their previous album, Up All Night. With One Direction, they’ve perfected a formula that’s powerful in its efficiency.

The five Englishmen, aged 19 to 21, trade off on half verses and choruses and layer their background vocals, giving their short songs unexpected variety. The songs borrow elements from previous songs -- the opening guitar riff of the Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”, hooks and harmonies from Backstreet’s “I Want It That Way” -- and cram them into tight song structures. Their backbeats have real no-nonsense SNAP, sometimes emphasized by a whoosh leading into the snare hits, the aural equivalent of healthy young revelers bounding along the beach and slapping high fives.

Which, if you’ve seen the video for “Beautiful”, seems to be how One Direction spend most of their days. Though they address all their songs to some ever-changing cipher named Girl, young women hardly appear in their videos, which are instead odes to frisky bonhomie. The Directions would rather spend time frolicking with one another: sleeping together in a tent, splashing one another in the pool, collapsing into a heap, gesticulating wildly. In the video for second single “Little Things”, a ballad that helpfully lists Girl’s insecurities so One Direction can assure her they don’t matter, the young men sit in a circle singing the song to one another and grinning. This imagery is lifted from the Beatles (“Look how much fun it is to be in a band!”) more than it is homoerotic, notwithstanding the Tobias Fünke-worthy line, “I won’t let these little things slip out of my mouth.”

Taylor Swift’s current album Red is better than Home in nearly every way, but they do share certain traits. Home contains two Yacoub-produced fast-into-slow anthems, “Kiss Me” and “Back For You”, similar to Swift’s dubstep foray “I Knew You Were Trouble”, produced by Max Martin and Shellback. Yacoub’s “Heart Attack” has the same stuttering beat as Swift’s “22”, which has the same beat as Miranda Cosgrove’s flabbergastingly great “Dancing Crazy”, both also produced by Martin and Shellback. (“Heart Attack” is the least of the three, but it does contain some goofy falsetto “owww!”s.) Most glaringly, both albums bear the sodden touch of English troubadour Ed Sheeran, who duets with Swift and helped write the ballads “Little Things” and “Over Again” for One Direction. The singers try to save the latter by overenunciating angrily like they’re extras in Les Mis. It doesn’t work.

More often, the members of One Direction wear their songs lightly, as though gamely stringing together clichés while they wait to get laid. Fittingly for an album whose most-uttered word is “whoa,” they seem perpetually awed by their good fortune and the beauty of whoever happens to be standing nearby. They mug their way through the stadium stomper “Rock Me” (“R.O.C.K. me again,” they elaborate) and “Last First Kiss”, a country song with pop production. They worry about a jealous tattooed boyfriend looking inside their brains in “I Would”. (“Would he say he’s in L.O.V.E.? / Well if it was me, then I would” -- see how easy love is?) But on the amazing, euphoric “C’mon, C’mon”, co-written by Jamie Scott of Brit-pop outfit Graffiti6, their harmonies erupt into life on the dance floor: “The one that I came with / She had to go / But you look amazing.” These may be the least articulate cads on the pop charts, but their beats speak volumes.

6
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image