From Worst To Best: Analysing Solo Careers In One Direction
WORDS BY HAYDN HICKSON
Every generation has their cheesy, guilty-pleasure boy band. The 80s had New Kids on the Block, the 90s had the Backstreet Boys, and our generation pumped out the biggest of them all: One Direction.
Now, while we can dismiss the concept of the boy-band because they’re products of the industry with the main function of starring in our wet dreams… we would be dismissing the very foundation that made the likes of Justin Timberlake, Robbie Williams and even Michael Jackson. So, in an effort to find the next biggest pop star, let’s look at the careers from the boys so far, but in the best way possible: from worst to best.
5. Niall Horan
Notable Release(s): This Town
I thoroughly remember the day the Irish singer/songwriter came out with his debut single. I was actually pretty excited. An excitement, that would quickly end the second I saw his sepia-tinged face on a backdrop of scribbled handwritten lyrics. Jesus Christ here we go.
This Town. Get Ready… Is the WORST song, I have EVER heard.
Channelling a less-talented Ed Sheeran, Niall manages to make folk music sound more boring than it already was. There is genuinely more credibility in a United Airlines training video or Pauline Hanson’s Cadbury boycott than this basic-ass catastrophe. The generic production (that he didn’t even do), the awful, mundane and boring lyrics, the lack of emotion in what was meant to be a heart-broken ballad: Like are you kidding? Niall, Please. For everyone’s sake don’t release anything ever again. Thank you.
4. Liam Payne
Notable Release(s): Nothing
Liam Payne has not released any music since the hiatus of One Direction.
I hope that his placement here in fourth place has reinforced how shit This Town was.
3. Louis Thomlinson
Notable Release(s): Just Hold On
The worst singer of One Direction ends on a slightly higher note in this listicle for his work on the Steve-Aoki track Just Hold On.
Entry into the EDM genre seemed to be a very calculated career move for Louis. It worked seamlessly for Justin Bieber’s transition into critical acclimation, and as Selena Gomez proved, you don’t need actual talent to be an EDM singer. But as far as the track goes: it’s not bad, it’s just tragically formulaic. Steve Aoki’s rejection of unique synths and interesting beats for a Calvin Harris rip-off has seen rejection from EDM fans and forgetfulness from pop fans. Let’s hope next time he stays in our MIDNIGHT MEMORIES (lol)
Notable Release(S): PILLOWTALK, Cruel, I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (w/ Taylor Swift)
There were a lot of different reactions when Zayn left One Direction. Some people cried. Some people laughed at those people crying. But for Zayn’s marketing team, it was time to get busy. Trying to distance himself from the manufactured boy-band stigma, Zayn’s first few interviews as a solo act had a lot on the topics of making “real music”. Not only was this a slight stab-in-the-back for his existing fan base, but it hyped him up quite a lot. So, when the release of Mind of Mine finally came, it wasn’t exactly the grand breakthrough we were all hoping for.
Mind of Mine is a Weeknd rip off album. Point blank. The original, spacey, artistic sound became commercialised trip-hop on the artist’s R&B, debut album. And while the album had its high points– it didn’t establish Zayn as a powerful, creative force in the industry. His newly released single with PARTYNEXTDOOR falls at a similar hurdle also. Still Got Time, while one could argue is Zayn moving into more fun, danceable territory, sound like a life-less version of Drake’s Passionfruit. All while doing his best Future/Desiigner impersonation, I don’t even know.
To put it simply: Zayn still has potential. He has killer voice, but we can all see he’s still the industry’s little puppet. Which is fine, but if his sophomore fails to impress, the world is gonna DRAG HIM DDD—OOO—WNNN-NNN (nobody nobody) [lol]
1. Harry Styles
Notable Release(s): Sign of the Times
Now, I can hear you directioners already.
But hear me out.
Yes, Harry only has one song. But, Sign of the Times isn’t just your average pop song. It is MORE THAN THIS (lol – last one I promise).
Let’s look at the cover art first: No Harry Styles name, no title of the track, no real picture of the man. Clearly, this is Harry’s request for a blank slate; the chance to be reborn into the music industry. And if you listen to the song you can clearly see why.
Sign of the Times is a well-written, well-produced, majestic, spectacular, powerful ballad. Vocally, Harry reaches hi-points never achieved in his boy-band days. The debut single sees the star exhibiting unforeseen strength and character within his vocal ability. Sonically, the instrumentation of this song -shoutout to those majestic strings- is structured well to move the listener with each and every climax.
But the main reason why he takes his number one spot is because Harry’s debut seems genuine. Sign of the Times makes me want to listen to the album it’s off. Something the other One Direction members are yet to achieve. This track may not rack the views PILLOWTALK did, but it will put him in a position to outlast the other boys in all his future endeavours.