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one direction After writing my last feature “Lady Gaga: Where Will She Be?”, I was rather stumped as to whom I should dissect next. And so, I asked my friends… And then I scraped the bottom of the barrel and asked the teenage girls I teach music and dance to, hoping that they would they would name some cool new artist that I had not heard of yet. Sadly, I got the answer I was scared to get. “Miss Catherine, you should TOTALLY write about One Direction! I love them so much!” I was gonna brush this comment off until one of them said, “Harry Stiles is like the new Justin Timberlake, and you LOVE Justin Timberlake, Miss Catherine.” Justin Timberlake you say? The only artist right now who COULD (but admits that even he won’t reach the level of absolute greatness) be the next Michael Jackson? Huh… I would HARDLY compare One Direction to the awesomeness of N*Sync. And this Harry Styles… Will he bring “SexyBack?” I HIGHLY doubt it, but still… This posses an interesting point. I’m sure my baby sitters and other young women in my life rolled their eyes at my N*Sync addiction, and thought, “New Kids on the Block or New Edition is so much better than these dumb Disney kids…” And what better timing to talk about them than near the release of their new 3D film, This Is Us. And so, for the sake of music, I’ve listened to most of the One Direction catalogue, looked at countless videos, and rated each boys’ “drool-worthiness” as to rate their longevity and see where Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan will fall on my Last-o-meter. Talent These five boys can indeed sing. Nothing spectacular, but they are just more than a bunch of pretty faces. And I watched their latest video for “The Best Song Ever,” I found the boys are funny. In the video, they play other characters in a music office, the cold calculating lawyer, the sleezy music exec, the overly dramatic stylist, the flamboyant choreographer, and one even cross dresses as a surprisingly hot secretary… And they all pull each character off quite well. The quintet also writes music, although it seems to me that they just put the boys in a room with great writers and just let them interject a couple of words. I’ve SCOURED the writing credits for each song that they’ve released, and I’ve yet to see Harry or any of the other boys pen a song with less than five writers in a room. AND when you look at the sophomore effort from N*Sync, No Strings Attatched, you see that JC and Justin wrote a whopping five songs with max of three writers on each track… Now Irish dude, Niall CAN play a little acoustic guitar… and has been seen doing so at live performances, BUT for the most part these guys don’t play their own instruments. But this is always excusable for boy bands because usually they are doing some sort of awesome choreography. But aside from jumping up and down in unison, I’ve not seen a stitch of amazeballs choreography from these boys. Sorry guys, but the talent is just slightly above average. 5.5/10 Live Performance Part of the hilarity of boy bands is watching the young girls FREAK OUT! And these guys are no different. As I watched their live performances, I found one common theme: they always have great crowd interaction. I will say, I remember back in the day, N*Sync would be so wrapped up in choreography that they would rarely have time to interact. Now, I didn’t WANT any interaction… rather just to bask in their amazingness… but the kids of today Tweet and Facebook and have everything relate back to them. And so they need to feel like they are the center of the universe… which lets face it, is what every teenager wants. Not my cup of tea, but it is what the people want now. It’s sad really. Kids will never know the days of copying Darrin’s Dance Grooves in the hall to impress your friends. All they know is hand holding in the audience… meh. 7/10 Quality of Songs Pop music gets a really bad rap… BUT when done right dance pop music can be a wonderful and valid form of entertainment. We all need fluff… how else would we unwind and know what the meaty stuff is in life? Plus, through pop music we can get some seriously important messages out there. These boys ride on the shoulders of other swoon-worthy bands before them singing about girls and how they love them. And their music is, to put it mildly, bland. There’s just nothing to it… it’s boring, and I’ve just never really thought there was anything special about it. Sure it’s fun to sing along to, but I have to listen to the song several times before one of their hooks gets stuck in my head… a pop DEATH sentence. Sorry boys… you get a base bare minimum average score here…. 5/10 Originality and Style Boy bands are as old as… as old as… they’ve been around since my grandmother was old enough to scream at the top of her lungs for the crooners. In fact, let’s say the Rat Pack was KIND OF the first boy band (BUT more bad ass, and yes, I know, they weren’t really a band altogether, but just stay with me on this one). My point is that boy bands aren’t really that original… you just need to put your own spin onto it. The Jackson 5 were all brothers; New Edition was probably the first edgy boy band; and and New Kids on the Block were the first white boy band to think that they were black. But what makes One Direction different? Ummm, they were all strangers before… and they’re still in the band now?? That’s not enough for me. They sing well (like most other boy bands), don’t dance, don’t write their own milqutoast music, and don’t play their own instruments… not enough One Direction, not enough… 2.5/10 X Factor Now these boys were formed on the Brit show X Factor, but I’m talking about that one thing that makes us want to watch them. They’re cuties, but there are LOTS of cute boys. BUT they sing so well! Ummm, there are lots of boys who can sing well… who look good. I think that these dudes just got lucky with Simon Cowell’s blessing. As I watch the videos, I will say that Harry is very charismatic and fun to watch, but other than that, I’m just watching a bunch of pretty boys onstage jumping around in unison singing bland songs… meh. The only reason I’m not giving them a score below average is because of Harry… I will say, that kid MIGHT be a star, but Justin Timberlake, he is not. 5/10 Pre-teen and teen girls everywhere will HATE me for this piece… including the girls that I teach. Maybe indeed Harry will be the breakout star of One Direction, BUT PLEASE stop comparing him to Justin Timberlake. I have yet to see some JT magic from this little Englishman. JT is not only a brilliant singer, dancer, musician, and songwriter, BUT has also proved his comedic genius on his stint on SNL… lest we forget “D!ck in a Box.” But maybe Harry could be kinda like a Robbie Williams (I happened to love “Millenium”), and be a bigger pop star in the UK rather than the US. Honestly, I see One Direction being more like Backstreet Boys, where they will be mediocrely talented friends til the end, and do reunion tours until more than 50% of them end up in rehab or on a crazy Christian kick where they feel like “secular” music is of the devil. Sorry about it, but I don’t think that these guys will last that long… maybe “What Makes You Beautiful” will still be played on the light rock station 20 years from now… but I don’t see much more happening for these boys. lastometer1d Talent: 5.5/10 Live Performance: 7/10 Quality of Songs: 5/10 Originality and Style: 2.5/10 X Factor: 5/10 Average: 5/10