Tuesday, November 26, 2013


A Reasonable Review of One Direction's New Album, Which Is the Best Album Ever

Yesterday was the official release date for Midnight Memories, One Direction’s third studio album. Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Yessss!! No? Am I talking to the right demographic? It doesn’t matter. I’m here to talk to you about the important stuff, which is the music.

The music: holy smokes.

Our boys are still the same boys, even if they're now boys-verging-on-men, and they even helped write almost all the tracks on the new album. Let that sink in: it’s their very own words coming from their very own souls into my very own earphones.

Let's do this: track-by-track, first-but-not-final impressions.

(And if anyone can correctly list them in order of slow-burners—1D albums are nothing but a test of the power of the slow-burn—oh, how I have economized that debut album—I will buy them a "Teenage Dirtbag" sweatshirt.)

Track 1: “Best Song Ever” (writing credits: Niall, Zayn)
This is the perfect song to begin the album, and it's smart as their first single release, too. The music video is inspired. I still cannot get over this line:

I said, “Can you give it back to me?”
She said, “Never in your wildest dreams.”

With this, 1D gives the chance for their fans to scream this “never in your wildest dreams” line back at them, when, really, they know WE WOULD ALWAYS SAY YES. My heart was going like mad and yes I said yes and I will yes.

Track 2: “Story of My Life” (writing credits: all the members)
Everyone helped to write this song, guys! Story of whose life? Find out by watching the music video.

So you might say Taylor Swift has already basically done this in “Mine,” but, as fans have noted, “Story of My Life” is not about a girl or a boy, but about FAMILY. I mean, it might still be. One could read it that way. A girl. Me. Whoever. (SIDEBAR: I also have this theory that Taylor Swift videos really understand narrative whereas 1D videos really get media and that’s why you get a bit more winking in the 1D stuff. Take, for example, the meta introduction to “Story of My Life.” They are developing photographs of themselves in a darkroom which then come to life and move through different phases of their lives. Sweet Jesus.)

A+, cried at 3:25 when Louis’s grandparents dissolve out of the photo, even though he is eating from a dish of carrots and champagne (??), would watch again. 

Track 3: “Diana” (Louis; Liam)

Is Liam singing the opening lines because he wrote them? I need to know because they are:

The front pages are your pictures,
They make you look so small,
How could someone not miss you at all?

There is basically a double negative in that final line, guys. AND IT’S A RHETORICAL QUESTION. Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa whoa. That is a really complex way of beginning a song! I must know that Liam wrote that line.

“Diana” has one of the best hooks on the album, and it’s really asymmetrical:

Let me be the one to light a fire inside those eyes
You’ve been lonely, you don’t even know me,
But I can feel you crying

I love when 1D syncopates.

Track 4: “Midnight Memories” (Louis; Liam)

The title track screams we are 1D and we understand rock music. It sounds like they’re channeling Def Leppard? But cute. It’s still really very cute, which I am all for—"same old shh but a different day” is exactly how I want them to stay, for now.

Track 5: “You And I”

First, this doesn’t sound anything like Lady Gaga.

No 1D member contributed to writing this song, and hey! it really does stand out like a lyrical throwback—to maybe circa-“Little Things.”

Silence and sound
Did they ever hold each other tight
Like us
Did they ever fight
Like us

This song does that thing where you’re no longer sure what the referencing subject is, because if you try to read it grammatically, it’s kind of confusing? It could be a track out of the Backstreet Boys’ 1999 classic Millennium.

Favorite part is when Coldplay-reminiscent guitars kick in at 2:42.

Track 6: “Don’t Forget Where You Belong” (writing credit: Niall)

Liam (a.k.a. Best Singer In Band) is basically sharing song intros with Harry at this point. When did Liam shoot up the rankings?? It happened so quickly! Remember this?

(If we were judging on Twitter accounts, Liam wins. He can have my heart. He can just have it.)

OK, back to the song: “Don’t Forget Where You Belong” acts like a kind of the sequel to “Story of My Life.” It’s the exemplary, “We’re just real guys and even we get sad sometimes.” (A thousand puppies droop their heads.)

Don’t forget where you belong
If you ever fell alone
You were never on your own

Those sweet young angels constantly on tour, away from home—I’m so thankful they have each other.

Track 7: “Strong” (writing credits: Louie)


My heart, your heart, sit tight like book ends,
Pages between us, written with no end.
So many words we're not saying.
Don't want to wait till it's gone.
You make me strong.


That dip in the feminine rhyme of the third line of each verse: PERFECTION.

Track 8: “Happily” (writing credits: Harry)

Harry contributed to the most Mumford & Sons-y track on a pretty Mumford & Son-y album. There is a very prominent banjo. There are “hey!”s and claps.

But it’s called “Happily,” you point out. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhokayyou’reright. And it’s about CHEATING. (Actually a lot of this album seems to be about the fantasy of stealing someone else’s boo, but because we’re imagining getting stolen from 1D, stealing becomes somehow morally okay.) 1D is getting FEARLESS.

Track 9: “Right Now” (writing credits: Louis; Harry; Liam)

This kind of sounds like a Coldplay song, but very gentle Coldplay. (Is it the guitars? Do I associate Coldplay with rhythmic electronic guitar?)

It’s about long-distance relationships as well. Directioners, I think the boys are asking for a break.

Track 10: “Little Black Dress” (writing credits: Louis; Liam)

More Def Leppard! Orrrrrr …VAN HALEN??

In any case, Midnight Memories offers up a solid riff on the ‘80s bro anthem, and we are (I am) soooo into it. Teenage dirtbags, the lot of them.

Question: Are we okay that 1D of using “little black dress” as a synechdoche for the female body? They are literally addressing a Little Black Dress throughout this song. I don’t know. Do you own a little black dress? Do I need to buy one now?

Track 11: “Through the Dark” (writing credits: Louis, Liam)

“Through the Dark” is a song where 1D sings about remaining steadfastly alongside their depressed girlfriend as they face adversity together (cf. “we will find a way through the dark”). I think that’s my thesis? Yeah, that’s my thesis. I’m sticking with it.

Track 12: “Something Great” (writing credits: Harry)

This is maybe the most forgettable song on the album. I’m sorry, Gary Lightbody.

Track 13: “Little White Lies” (writing credits: Louis, Liam)

The thing about Midnight Memories is that it has great intros and sort of shoddy outros. There are lots of lame fade-outs. Maybe 1D needs a new producer. Fade-outs feel like giving up, and these guys deserve to go out with a bang.

This song is about mixed messages, and sort of gets the concept of “white lies” wrong, but I guess that is also the point? Little white lies. Whoa.

Yes, it’s about cheating.

Backseat of the cab, we're in the cab now
Lips getting so attached, they're so attached now
You wanna make some rules now
Then we'll watch them break



Track 14: “Better Than Words” (writing credits: Louis, Liam)

That’s it. Louis and Liam are the wordsmiths of this band. Drop your mics, boys. Drop all of them.

This is my favorite song on the album. They know it’s your favorite song on the album; they've made it the final track. It’s basically following the structure of writing a pop song about writing a pop song—and how IMPOSSIBLE it is to say ANYTHING meaningful anymore. (Demi Lovato’s “Without the Love” and Selena Gomez’s “Love You Like A Love Song” do this so, so well.)

The song is just a series of love-song titles strung together with a heavy bass and various 1D members “yeah” and “oohhhh”-ing in the background.

You drive me crazy
Someone like you
Always be my baby
Best I ever had
Hips don't lie
You make me wanna
One more night
Irreplaceable, yeah
Crazy, we're crazy

Just, speechless.

If you have not listened to this song yet I am jealous. I always want to be hearing this song for the first time. I would say the same of the album as a whole, in fact.


Previously: Jimmy Stewart Character or Victorian Villain?

Full disclosure: Jane Hu is a fan of One Direction.

44 Comments / Post A Comment


I'm actually a huge fan of One Direction. I love their music and they're also good looking. - Feed the Children


You are amazing !@a


I'd like to nominate "something great" as the ultimate slow burn on this album, if only because it's so forgettable, BUT YET I thought about the line "is it too much to ask for something great?" yesterday and cried in a library.


@lizzaretsky yeah the beginning of the song sounds like a Verizon commercial or something, but I love that line/chorus/bridge/I don't know proper music terms.


Excuse you, but Zayn clearly has the best voice in the band. Please re-listen to the last 90 secs of "They Don't Know About Us" and correct your error.

Jane Hu@facebook

@heb Noooo I used to think this too, but REALLY I PROMISE it is Liam. (Zayn second.)


@heb Ok ok ok, I think this comes down to what we define as "best." I think Liam is the most "trained," Zayn is the most versatile and Harry is the best showman. Even the other members admit Zayn's lines are the hardest to cover!

I think the best part about 1D is that you can really make an argument for any one of them being your #1 fav, while the boy bands of the late 90s only really gave 1 or 2 choices unless you were being aggressively contrarian.

Also: hello, I am a grown woman working in her adult office

Jane Hu@facebook

@heb Goodness, I agree with this 100%.



@heb it's fine, it's fine, I am a 26 year old who panicked today when I realized the presale for the tour started today.

Nate Jones@twitter

TRUE One Direction fans know that Liam was the Brian Jones of 1D, the one originally picked for stardom, then thrust aside when it became clear that other members had more spark. (Harry is Mick Jagger in this analogy, for obvious reasons, which makes Zayn Keith Richards. I'll allow it.) Watch the X Factor performances, he gets loads more screentime and solos than anyone else.


@Nate Jones@twitter I always thought Harry Styles looked a little like young Mick Jagger, if young Mick Jagger hadn't grown up on post-WWII rations.


@Nate Jones@twitter This is revalatory.


@Nate Jones@twitter I forget where I read it, I think it might have been on the article Jezebel wrote about watching their movie, but they talk about how on X Factor there's a point you realize the producers realized Harry was a star and Liam was sort of a dud.

Sgt. Hulka

@Nate Jones@twitter
Wait, what? You are really comparing some boy band moron to Keith Richards? Does "Zayn" even know how to play anything?


Somewhere on the internet the carrots and juice/champagne were explained as something you traditionally leave out for Santa's reindeer on Christmas Eve in the UK.


@zamboni Carrots for the reindeer anda drop of sherry for santa himself! If you're feeling generous you can leave him a mince pie too. Or, you know, leftovers because you ate the carrots and mince pies for dinner. And sometimes Santa gets milk bc he's working on his teeth, or coke bc he has to stay up all night. You get it. It's treats to bribe him for pressies.


@zamboni Growing up in Canada we did milk and cookies for Santa, but I guess we didn't care as much about animal welfare

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@zamboni Milk and cookies for Santa, carrots and olives for the reindeer.


You read the #wonderection bloggers, right? I love seeing that language here.

Jane Hu@facebook



@Jane Hu@facebook ...what are those? This fandom needs a guide.


@Jane Hu@facebook YESSSS


I've said it here before, and I'll say it again: Louis is my boyfriend. "Better Than Words," INDEED.


...and this is when Noodge realized that The Hairpin is wayyyyyy too young for her now.

Jane Hu@facebook

@noodge I am 24; I am older than any of the members.


@Jane Hu@facebook

and you completely reinforced my point.

Jane Hu@facebook

@noodge I am a weirdo! Please keep reading Hairpin!!


@noodge Ha, I only realized One Direction were a really big thing when I went to the movie theater a couple of months ago and there was a giant cutout of them in the lobby and a bunch of tweens in line to see some kind of live event concert.




@noodge Wait, this isn't ironic? I just assumed this was all a joke.


@kasa I think she means the oldest member of One Direction, not The Hairpin writers.

Edith Zimmerman

This is a masterpiece.


I've never knowingly heard any of their songs (though I probably have, like, in a store) and lean more towards the 'doom metal' end of the musical spectrum but your excitement is WAY CONTAGIOUS and I am SO going to check out this album.

straw hat

I know nothing about One Direction but I am definitely a fan of this review (and also of the ski outfits).


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Not Your Typical Cultural Critic

Love it! I too am a fan of One Direction actually. Weird, right? I think pop music is better than other kinds of music, as surprising as that may sound.


I really like One Direction. Their music good and quality. I'm waiting for their concert later this year. How To Cure Premature Ejaculation


then thrust aside when it became clear that other members had more spark. (Harry is Mick Jagger in this analogy, for obvious reasonsbuffet infantil niterói

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

Am I allowed to post comments after a sea of fake people? Or does my comment now look illegible by association?

Anyway, they sing about the "Best Song Ever" and not remembering afterwards how it goes...
I have decided to believe that this refers to the same song that Tenacious D sang about in "Tribute."


Amazing Ulysses reference:)


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Gezuar 2014
Ketu do te gjeni video te humorit shqip si dhe muzika shqip per vitin 2014

Dr Clownius

man, remember the halcyon days when the majority of hairpin comments weren't about working from home? what is up with all these spam posts?


I think the best part about 1D is that you can really make an argument for any one of them being your #1 fav, while the boy bands of the late 90s only really gave 1 or 2 choices unless you were being aggressively contrarian. diooda

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