I get told often that I’m hard to figure out. Usually I just raise an eyebrow, laugh a little bit, and think yeah I’m really not that complex but whatever. Last night as I drove to One Direction, blasting Jimi Hendrix for nearly the whole journey, I realized that these people who tell me this may be onto something. And yes, you can be a fan of both Jimi Hendrix and One Direction. Stranger things have happened in the world, I am confident of that.
I went into this One Direction experience as a mildly terrified 24 year old post grad. A part from what I’ve seen online about this generation’s British invasion, I really had no idea what to expect. What I found was this: the world needs One Direction.
Harry Styles during the band’s performance of Little Things
If you’re above the age of 22, you’re probably ready to close out this essay, thinking that I am absolutely mental – but please, just stick with me on this one.
I started attending concerts at the ripe age of 16. Every band I saw was never anywhere near the success level of One Direction, so I was typically confined to small clubs and dive bars. All of these concerts had one thing in common: impressing people was the number one thing on your list. Being cool was a necessity and who you went to see ended up being a social projection of your personality, apparently.
Somewhere after the 60’s and 70s, music changed. Obviously I was not alive in that era, but I have a father who was, and still is, a massive Dead Head – and has a wealth of knowledge about those eras to boot. He has told me on countless occasions that back then, music wasn’t about being cool – it was about something. But most importantly, it was about celebrating it with everyone. Somewhere between the 60’s, 70’s and now, music has been viewed differently. It almost has a sort of tribalistic attitude in the sense that clearly, if I like Jimi Hendrix, I can’t possibly like One Direction. Furthermore, if you like pop music, you’re automatically dubbed as having awful taste in music.
Pop music and One Direction alike get a bad rap and here’s why they shouldn’t. I haven’t attended a concert in the longest time where everyone was just there because they genuinely love the band they are seeing. Of course, it’s more of the screaming-crying-stalking type of love, but it’s still love at the end of the day. Once you strip away all the chaos, and their access to the internet, it’s pure passion for something they love. It’s coming together and enjoying something together. No one was there to just be seen. Being cool didn’t matter to these girls, the fucking torrential downpour that occurred right before their set didn’t even matter to these girls. What mattered to these girls was seeing a band they love so deeply come out and play for them.
One Direction has a pretty good sense of who they are and they don’t try to act like anything other than that. They are quite good at providing a somewhat anarchic vibe. What I mean by this is, they don’t conform to the typical boyband stereotype. They don’t dance, they don’t dress alike and they have a good number of tattoos. That’s fucking shocking, I know, but in a world where pop stars are manufactured and tailored to a specific audience, it is a little bit shocking that they’ve been able to maintain some sort of identity. They are definitely not your mother’s boyband. Being a young descendent of the BSB/’N Sync era, it is quite refreshing.
As someone nearly four years their senior, I was quite taken aback by how well they all carry themselves, despite all the money they are making and the level of fame they are at. Though the constant speeches about how thankful they are to be there seemed a bit try hard at times, there was still a level of genuine love and humble attitude behind them. If I was doing what they are doing at age 20, I would’ve been one cocky motherfucker. The fact that I didn’t sense one hint of arrogance says a lot about them. It became obvious on stage that they know they are incredibly lucky to be at the level they are at. The world needs more boybands, man. The world needs more people like One Direction.
And if you find yourself as a 20 something fan of One Direction: fucking own that. I got so much shit for going to that concert, and I could not care less. It was well worth the lack of sleep I got before returning to my 9-5 routine the next morning.
OH MY FUCKING GOD
my heart says yes but my bank balance says no
The last one got me.