Review: One Direction's Midnight Memories
Kristina Carroll ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Two years ago One Direction took the music world by storm with the release of their debut album Up All Night. The album instantaneously soared to the top of the charts, and the five boys who were previously known as “the winners of The X Factor” proved that they were not just going to fizzle out. Instead, they were going to become one of pop music’s biggest names of the year.
One year later, the band was still going strong, and released their second album Take Me Home. The album was similar to the second, and held true to the style that they had established the year before. It was pop—catchy, fast paced with the occasional slow love song, and fun. The music and lyrics that made up One Direction’s first two albums were definitely one of a kind and extremely enjoyable, but they proved that they were still teenagers at heart.
But another year has passed, and One Direction has made several huge changes since its last album. Yes, the hairstyles have changed, the combined tattoo count has increased, and relationships have fizzled (but come on, who didn’t see the Harry Styles and Taylor Swift breakup coming?). The band has also embraced a new rock element in many of their songs, diverting them from their strict pop image. But the biggest transformation that can be seen in this new album is that they have collectively matured as a group. Midnight Memories isn’t an album showcasing the thoughts and free-spirited nature of teenage boys; it’s One Direction’s first adult album. By no means is it full of vulgar songs that are solely geared toward adults, but the vibe that the album gives off is definitely more grown up than fans have ever experienced before. And although it’s extremely weird to ever think of the One Direction boys as being adults, Midnight Memories proves that for the most part, it works.
1) “Best Song Ever”: The first song on Midnight Memories is unfortunately not the best. In fact, it’s one of One Direction’s worst songs ever created, and its title couldn’t be more ironic. The problem with this song is that it has no storyline, no message, and absolutely no point. Yes, it’s catchy, and yes, it’s been picked up by hundreds of radio stations (making it one of the most well-known songs on the album). However, it lacks substance, something that One Direction is perfectly capable of creating. It goes from talking about a girl’s dad being a dentist, to having a dirty mouth but being kissed anyway, to dancing all night to the “best song ever”. So basically it’s one of the most ridiculous songs ever, and it should really be renamed. But don’t worry, it only gets better from here.
2) “Story of My Life”: Now, this is a good song. It’s toned down, something that is rare for the band, but it still has an amazing beat. It’s also very cryptic, and far from the typical love song that One Direction has repeated so many times in the past. It has a sad element, and lets the listeners create their own story to accompany it. The music video for this song is also one of the best the band has ever produced, as it artfully showcases each member’s personal life experiences that led them to where they are today.
3) “Diana”: One of the best songs on the album, “Diana” stays true to the band’s traditional pop style. It’s peppy, energetic and it’s about a girl…what more could you ask for in a One Direction song? But what makes this song stand out is that the other tracks are so different from the tracks on their previous albums (in terms of style), so it’s nice to have this song to remind us of the standard One Direction music that we as listeners are so familiar with.
4) “Midnight Memories”: This is the track after which the album was named, but just like with “Best Song Ever”, it’s not really deserving of such honor. Although the song isn’t terrible, it’s definitely not the best on the album. It does, however, contain much more of a rock element than listeners are used to, and that could be one of the reasons why the album mirrors this title. The combination of electric guitar and more yelling rather than singing makes for a pretty big jump from the band’s pop image, and while the song may not be the most meaningful, it’s nice to see some variety. But once again, there were definitely better options for the album title, so this is a bit of a disappointment.
5) “You & I”: Slow One Direction songs are very rare, but when the boys decide to stray away temporarily from their fast-paced nature, it almost always results in something amazing. “You & I”, the slowest song on the album, and is definitely on the top tier in terms of quality. It’s unique from their other slow songs because it’s about trying to salvage a relationship that is slowly crumbling to pieces. This combination of hopefulness and sadness is portrayed very well in the song, and the amount of emotion put fort at certain moments by the band is incredible.
6) “Don’t Forget Where You Belong”: This song is great because it’s sort of in the middle in all aspects. It’s not particularly slow, but it’s also not on the same jumpy level as “What Makes You Beautiful”, or in this album’s case “Best Song Ever”. It’s also not a love song, and focuses more on the idea of always having somewhere to fall back to, no matter where you go in life. This is another great example of proof that One Direction is really growing up as a band, because they’re songs topics are shifting to include much more substantial material. It also does a great job of reflecting the journey that the band has taken, and how no matter how famous they become, they will always still be the people they were when they stepped on the X Factor stage for the first time.
7) “Strong”: This song is similar to “Don’t Forget Where You Belong”, in that it’s a fairly more toned down 1D pop song than fan’s are used to. The lyrics are cute, but nothing to get too excited or worked up about. The chorus is what really saves the song, and although the lyrics are simple, the passion of band really makes the song much more interesting, and therefore more enjoyable to listen to.
8) “Happily”: If you find it hard to believe that One Direction’s musical style is changing in the slightest, this song will definitely serve as clarification. One of the peppier songs on the album, “Happily” has a great beat that is reminiscent of many of the band’s songs from past albums. However, there is a sort of loudness, and almost shouting, that occurs at some points (the chorus, especially), which gives it the rock vibe. And on top of all that, there is even a little bit of a folk element in the actual music, something which is seen even more in later songs. So, “Happily” is a whole range of things. As for quality, the song is average in comparison to the rest of the album.
9) “Right Now”: This song is very OneRepublic-esque. It’s simple, and somewhere in between the bouncy pop song and the slow love song. The lyrics aren’t spectacular, mostly because they’re a little repetitive and very simple. It is however, a song that definitely showcases their vocal strengths. Like “Happily”, this song is also average in comparison to others on the album.
10) “Little Black Dress”: This song is sure to take you by surprise, because it’s so different from anything One Direction has ever done before. It has a really interesting rock vibe, and the music combined with their vocals makes them almost unrecognizable. Unfortunately, it’s one of the shortest songs on the album, and could use a little more variety in terms of its lyrics. Nevertheless, this song is definitely up there on the list of best songs.
11) “Through the Dark”: Definitely a contender for the top five best songs on the album, “Through the Dark” is very similar to Mumford & Son’s song “I Will Wait” in terms of its music (it has a folk vibe), making it yet another song that strays away from One Direction’s typical pop style. This song is sure to be the band’s next big radio song, because they’ve already performed it on Saturday Night Live, and have included it in other live performances.
12) “Something Great”: “Something Great” is fantastic, because it’s one of those songs that just keeps escalating in energy. It’s not particularly fast-paced, but its chorus is sung with such intense emotion that it makes it one of those songs where you just want to roll down the windows in your car and scream the lyrics at the top of your lungs. And on top of that, the lyrics in this song are incredible.
13) “Little White Lies”: If you’re a sucker for the classic 1D songs, “Little White Lies” is definitely for you. It would fit perfectly on both Up All Night and Take Me Home, and does a great job of keeping their old style relevant on this new album. This song is very fun, especially because the majority of it is sung completely as a group, which gives it even more energy. And it’s definitely a great concert song, that’s for sure.
14) “Better than Words”: This is the final song on the album, and serves as another throwback to the conventional boy band, pop style of 1D that fans know best. It was a good choice for the last song on the album, and definitely reminds us of why the band is so loveable.
If these 14 songs aren’t enough for you, the deluxe version of Midnight Memories contains 4 more songs that are absolutely incredible. “Why Don’t We Go There”, “Does He Know”, “Alive”, and “Half a Heart” are so good, in fact, that it’s shocking that they didn’t land a spot on the regular album (yes, 18 songs is a little extensive…but it’s One Direction). And with that, this marks the end of One Direction’s third album, which is quite possibly the best one that they have produced. Album number four can’t come soon enough!