So, in case you’re unaware, One Direction released the video for their new single this week (four days early, mind you- there was an awkward situation with a video leak, lol).
Okay, firstly, the video.
a) Harry Styles, I adore your blazers, but you probably shouldn’t wear one camping, it’s just a bit weird.
b) who puts up bunting flags and balloons and has COUCHES INSIDE THEIR INCREDIBLY SPACIOUS TENTS?! Honestly.
c) the entire time Louis was driving like a maniac, headlines that read “Boyband dies in car accident” were flashing through my mind.
d) WHO GOES SWIMMING WITH THEIR CLOTHES ON (also AS IF THE SAME CLOTHES WOULD BE DRY ENOUGH TO WEAR LATER ON, THIS IS ENGLAND, PEOPLE)
And that’s basically my thoughts on the matter. Loving Niall in that shirt and those sunnies, too.
Now, onto the lyrics (aka the serious analytical part of the post)!
My friend Sophie linked me to this wonderfully interesting article on the issue of the mildly controversial nature of the new song’s lyrics, and I definitely agree with some of the opinions expressed in that piece. Firstly, however, I’d just like to point something out.
I wanna stay up all night
And jump around until we see the sun
I wanna stay up all night
And find a girl and tell her she’s the one
Above are lyrics from the title track of One Direction’s debut album, Up All Night. Now, lyrics from the first single of the second album (which, by the way, is called “Take Me Home”. Apparently it’s about being homesick on tour, and all that stuff)
Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy till we see the sun
I know we only met but let’s pretend it’s love
And never, never, never stop for anyone
Tonight let’s get some
And live while we’re young
We’ll get to the sexual subtext in a minute, but come on. These songs were written by the same people. Is LWWY simply the next, slightly more daring chapter of the Up All Night story? I mean, in Up All Night, tables were broken and people were going “all the way”, yet because it was never released as a single, it didn’t come under the scrutiny that Live While We’re Young probably will.
So, let’s all have one night stands because YOLO, or? Also, “And if we get together, yeah, get together, don’t let the pictures leave your phone”?! Cheers for the “don’t sext” subliminal message there, boys. Appreciate it. That’s what I take away from this song, but just because its lyrics are a bit on the questionable side doesn’t mean I’ll stop singing it. It’s catchy, okay?!
The question is, how much of an effect does having lyrics like this in a pop song actually have on the target audience? Part of One Direction’s appeal is that they aren’t a pure product of the Disney channel; they’re supposed to be real, down to earth boys, just like the ones you went to school with. Does this make it okay for them to have such sexual content in their lyrics? Then again, I can think of a lot worse lyrics out there playing on radio stations today (Whistle by Flo Rida, anyone? Alex Day has completed a great analysis), but the issue with One Direction is how many of their fans are considered far too young to be listening to these kind of lyrics. Another issue is that their teenage fans may take this song as an endorsement of casual sex and directly influence their behaviour, but as this fantastic article on Feminspire explains, “Girls will always find a way to explore their sexuality, no matter how we try to shield them from it.”.
The article also mentions how:
These boy band crushes that occur so often in young girls can be seen as a practise run for the real relationships in adult life. These crushes let girls play out their romantic fantasies on a safe target, one that comes without the fear of rejection or all the demands of a real relationship. It is a perfectly harmless stage of development, and no different from the horniness of teenage boys over Megan Fox. Girl crushes only become such a hot topic of conversation because they are expressed more publicly and, well, more loudly. We shouldn’t view girl crushes as ‘crazy’ or any less valid just because they’re on boy band members.
I personally don’t have an issue with the lyrics of the song. It doesn’t make me want to go out, get drunk and have sex with the first guy I can find. I am 18 years old though, which I suppose is quite different from the POV of a 14/15/16 year old fan who may be more impressionable, but I doubt this song is going to be someone’s sole motivation for initiating sexual relations. If anything, I found it quite amusing that lyrics like this made it into a One Direction song, but then again, I realise that this music is supposed to be written from the perspective of a group of boys aged 18 to 20.
One Direction, unlike the Jonas Brothers who all took a vow of purity ’til marriage and Justin Bieber who has similar faith-based views (although being the result of a teen pregnancy himself, it’s understandable how Bieber can’t really push the “no sex before marriage” thing, I guess), have always been quite open about their sexualities and have spoken out about the importance of safe sex and also mentioned things like alcohol, partying and other “teenage” behaviours in media interviews. They’re honest; once again it’s part of that “boys you go to school with” appeal. I mean, encouraging one night stands and general casual sexual behaviour probably isn’t the best message for One Direction to be sending in this particular song, but on the whole, the boyband are actually (I think) representing the fact that it’s okay to talk about sexuality and sex itself.
In today’s society where so many things are taboo, it’s no surprise that many fans of groups like One Direction rely on the anonymity of platforms like Tumblr to express their emotions, desires and also communicate and explore topics, some of which include sexual themes. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, though… But honestly, if you go looking for it, I imagine you can find fanfiction that is FAR more graphic than a One Direction song will ever be.
What do you think?
p.s Don’t remember anyone being too fussed about The Wanted and this catchy little tune. Is it because they’re all a bit older and just a bit creepy? Surely their fanbase is similar to 1D’s… And come on, as if this is about being happy about your friend arriving at a party.
p.p.s if you’re ever looking for hilarious One Direction “serious journalism”, be sure to check out Sugarscape.
Sugarscape recently posted an interview with Savan Kotecha, who wrote “Live While We’re Young” for One Direction and worked with them on their second album (he wrote What Makes You Beautiful, too. What a great guy.)
It made a quite interesting read, actually.
Sugarscape: Alright, what about ‘we’ve only met but let’s pretend it’s love’?
Is this the message you’re sending out to impressionable fans?
Well, you know…
Are you telling them to slag themselves about? Is this the theme of the album? ‘Be sluts’?
Well, obviously not. The whole idea is that you have that nostalgic night out, so people who are older can listen to it too. None of us are naive enough not to know what kids do. It’s important not to patronise the youth of today, we’re not gonna be writing about ‘oh let’s just hold hands for a while’ you know? They need their music to connect. A lot of songs are about sex and you have to be realistic about it.
YES. THANK YOU, SAVAN KOTECHA.
“It’s important not to patronise the youth of today, we’re not gonna be writing about ‘oh let’s just hold hands for a while’ you know? They need their music to connect. A lot of songs are about sex and you have to be realistic about it.”
Thank you for being honest.
This has been an update.