Before we get started on this (because I’m pretty sure I want to delay it as long as possible), one quick question… How in the howling blue fuck are Maroon 5 STILL number one in the US? Answers in the comments, or on a postcard, or to our Twitter @WHATEFFINGIAN.
I’ve never heard One Direction before, largely because I am not a 12 year old girl, nor do I know any 12 year old girls. I think they came from The X Factor; pop’s current market leader in the germ warfare arms race, but since I don’t watch The X Factor (see previous sentence for reasons) my only awareness of them has been through the press, which can’t stop writing about how MASSIVE they are. The press, it seems to me, only seem to talk about One Direction in terms of their huge success, their fanbase and Harry Styles’ penchant for the older lady, the actual music (which I think is supposed to be why they’re famous), seems to be curiously unremarked upon.
So… let’s put all the gossip aside. Is this single any good?
It’s… disappointingly non-terrible. In all honesty I was looking forward to this, cracking my knuckles at the prospect of beating up the latest boyband on the block, but it’s not an awful record. Just to clarify this… I don’t LIKE this, it’s nothing I’d ever choose to listen to but for this series, and I’ll never play it again, but that’s about the style of music; these plaintive boyband ballads just aren’t my thing. However, as these things go it’s reasonable, and I can absolutely see why One Direction‘s young female fanbase are buying into it.
It helps that the lyrics are by Ed Sheeran. Sheeran, again, is somebody I’m not a fan of, but I get his success. I find his lyrics a little twee for my liking, but he’s connecting with people and writing personal and sometimes well observed songs. Little Things is a rather sweet love song, essentially addressed to the listener about how, although 1D understand that there are things she doesn’t like about herself (like ‘the crinkles by her eyes’ – that’ll be one of Harry’s girlfriends then), but that “all these little things add up to you”. It’s nicely put, if not especially deep and anonymously sung, and it will have the fanbase swooning, and frankly given that most weeks this column is soundtracked by identikit dance beats it’s nice to hear an acoustic guitar, even though, again, there’s nothing terribly inspired about how it’s being used.
Sometimes it’s twee to the point of irritation, or even comedy (“I’m joining up the dots with the freckles on your cheeks” Well stop it, I suspect your girlfriend doesn’t want you drawing on her face [looks up who sings this bit] Zayn), but the only moment it really annoyed me was when the lyrics came very close to quoting my favourite Tori Amos song, Winter (“you never love yourself half as much as i love you”), at that point, even though it’s not actively unpleasant, I want THIS song to be over so I can go and play Winter for the thousandth time. Otherwise it’s just very blah, it sat there inoffensively for three and a half minutes, I tolerated it, I wrote about it, I’ll never think about it again now.
Does Pop Music Suck this week? On the whole this is fine, it’s not for me, but there are MUCH worse records and MUCH worse messages the audience it is designed for could be listening to. I am, to my surprise and, I would imagine to yours, going to have to say No, on balance.
Coming Soon: In 2013 Does Pop Music Suck? will also be covering the No1. albums of each week