One Direction officially released their third album, Midnight Memories, yesterday (it had been leaked way earlier than that) and we have been listening to it quite a lot since. Obviously.
Hilary: I quite like Little Black Dress. It sounds remarkably like something Bruce Springsteen would’ve sung (in 1987) and I think we can all agree that Bruce Springsteen is awesome.
Julia: He is awesome! At first when I was listening to the full album I found it kind of disconcerting because it was so all over the place – there were 80s rock songs, folk songs, and pop songs – and it was possibly the least cohesive album I’ve ever heard. I was a bit worried that this was them, growing up a bit, trying to find their sound and failing. But when we learned that they co-wrote the majority of the songs on the album, it makes more sense! Harry and Nial wrote the folk songs, Louis and Liam wrote the 80s rock songs (who would have thought?) and the pop songs were written for them. It just makes so much more sense now.
Hilary: It really does. Zayn, it appears, had little to no involvement in the writing process. Do you know what Zayn has been doing? According to this article on Buzzfeed, he’s been tackling the overwhelming and thrilling challenge of bringing turtlenecks back to style. I have to admit, he does wear a turtleneck well. It’s really quite unusual because I have rarely seen a man in a turtleneck who was not fifty-seven and also wearing either a beret or a tweed jacket with elbow patches.
Julia: Wow, Zayn. What a spectacular use of time. He actually does look rather dapper though. And perhaps we wouldn’t have wanted him to write any of the songs because he can be notoriously moody!
Hilary: Well that’s true. I don’t want to just be depressed for the entire album. I think my favourite song by far is Happily and mostly because it’s delightfully folky. I swear there’s a banjo in there somewhere, which is remarkable for a boy band. 98° never did that! Or possibly they did. I don’t know, I never really listened to them.
Julia: There definitely is banjo in there, and I of course love it as well. Never once did O-Town play the banjo, for which we can all be extremely grateful. There are a lot of songs on this album that I think if you didn’t know it they were by 1D you wouldn’t guess that to be the case. Some, for example sound like Whitesnake. Not necessarily ideal, still enjoyable. Some like “Diana” make literally no sense at all, until you decide it’s about a cardiologist. “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,/Diana,/Let me be the one to lift your heart up and save your life,/ I don’t think you even realize baby you’d be saving mine.” It’s so obviously about a cardiologist. If it’s not, it makes no sense at all.
Hilary: I didn’t like that song at first, but then I listened to it with the new-found knowledge that it is being sung from the perspective of a lonely cardiologist and now I love it (or at least like it slightly better than I did previously; love is a very strong word). I mean, clearly Diana is a very lonely woman with a heart condition in which her heart has fallen. This is why he’s lifting it up and consequently saving her life. And she’s obviously crying because she’s alone. And also probably having someone physically lift up your heart is quite painful.
Julia: I think it takes a lot of creativity to sing about lonely cardiologists. While still super catchy and fun, I find the lyrics to Alive deeply troubling. I honestly think that the person they’re singing about might have a mental illness and just because it makes you feel alive does not actually mean it’s ok. I can think of SO many examples where that is absolutely untrue. Heroin for one.
Hilary: I just looked up the lyrics. Judging by the first verse alone, the song is 100% about sex addictions. Also, this therapist they’re consulting should have her licence revoked. You do no say to someone who is asking why they want to be with every girl they meet, “it’s fine so long as you feel like you’re alive”. Terrible advice. Terrible, terrible advice. Also, for all the young ladies out there (and some of the older ladies as well, tbh), don’t let some guy talk you into doing something just because he swears it’ll make you “feel alive” even if he is Zayn Malik in a turtleneck. I mean, if you want to do, go for it, that’s your prerogative (just like Bobby Brown). But if you don’t, feeling alive is not a good enough reason to abandon all of your personal values.
Julia: Good, solid advice. The seductive powers of a turtleneck know no ends. RESIST!
Hilary: Well, the seductive powers of a turtleneck on Zayn knows no ends. It think there are definite ends to the seductive powers of a turtleneck on, say, Jack Nicholson. Or my grade eleven chemistry teacher. Her turtlenecks did not make crucibles anymore thrilling than they already were (re: weren’t).
But seriously, how much does the beginning of this song sound like Jesse’s Girl? A lot is the answer.