Single Review: One Direction – ‘One Thing’

“A generic pop song for giddy teenagers swooning over high-school sweethearts”


Digital Release: February 12, 2012

Physical Release: February 13, 2012

The more and more you think about it, One Direction aren’t half as annoying as their fans. Aside from making needlessly overwrought pop explosions with all the subtlety of Jim Steinman rallying up a Glee rivalry, there’s very little that’s left to One Direction. But the best part about any of that is that you can instantly switch them off. Their fans however, sing with far greater resonance due to there being an exponential army of pre-pubescent teenyboppers who haven’t quite discovered their own identity yet, and so instead of opting for the other extreme of the scale and cover themselves in bows, bangles and faux-religious iconography so as to label themselves as indie, they swim with the current. Said current is to the tune of One Direction and their bitter-sweetly sentimental lyrics and pop hooks, meated out with a tuneless guitar cacophony when the chorus kicks in to make the boys appear less like reedy little teenagers who just fell out of Top Man’s first floor window and more like hairy-chested juggernauts of muscle and musical talent. Thankfully though, if the image of Niall flexing his biceps and raising a suggestive eyebrow at you is too much too handle, their act is very easy to see through.

But back to the music, as that’s all that matters seeing as, lest we forget, they were championed on a “singing” “talent” “show”. One Direction’s music is as it is purely because it’s the most commercially and socially acceptable route to their fans. Recognising that those women old enough to be able to decide what to like and what not to like (even though it’s shoved down their throat) aren’t going to be interested, the boys can’t simply go around promising to give underage girls at ‘da club’ the best night of their life whilst gloating about their appendages and the comparative smallness of their competitors’. That’s completely backward for a cheesy, jazz-handing boyband. And so they resort to being the doe-eyed, love-struck subordinate playing the game of Who Can Bestow The Best Declaration of Affection. It’s nothing too bad, but it does mean that there’s very little to tell us which era of music they belong to, consigning themselves ambiguously to any number of boybands been and gone.

As for the song, it works as a generic pop song for giddy teenagers swooning over high-school sweethearts, achieving it’s goal with much the same refinement and poise (that is, none at all) as their previous efforts. There’s plenty of reminders of what is really going through the hormone-charged dreams of post-pubescent boys, but in the same breath, there’s plenty of reminders that even in the most desolate of musical periods, there’s still some fun to be had with the age-old genre of pop.

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