Part One: Music

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Ten reasons. Feel free to read, to skim; this is my musically nerdy side rearing its head. If you want, simply skip to the end, to find out the reason for the video to the side. But listen to the video. Press play...just listen.


1.      Their harmonies. The boys’ harmonies are absolutely beautiful. They’re a perfect combination of mixture and hearing their individual voices, whether it be Louis’s tenor or Harry’s deeper, more baritone-like sound. You can hear it more on their a cappella and live performances: the final X Factor show with “Torn,” or one of their many radio appearances. Also, it’s more prominent in the songs that Ed Sheeran wrote for them: “Little Things” has a to-die-for harmonization at the end.

2.      Their imperfection. Now, I know this probably makes no sense, but let me explain. In several songs on the albums, you can hear a few voice cracks; in their live tour DVD, there are a few pitches where someone’s voice shoots up but quickly recovers. That’s called music…and life. That proves that they’re not perfect, like many celebrities pretend to be. It also validates the fact that they don’t use autotune or various other voice enhancers during live shows or during most of their album. They’re only human: if you listen to performers on Broadway or opera, you will, without a doubt, hear at least one voice crack. That’s life…and that’s music.

3.      Their lyrics. On Up All Night, all five of the boys co-wrote three songs: “Everything About You,” “Same Mistakes,” and “Taken.” That trio of songs contain absolutely beautiful, heartfelt lyrics. Even if there is a poppy, upbeat tune in the background of “Everything About You,” the lyrics are meaningful; it’s a great cheerer-upper on a blue day. The other two are slower, giving more time to really absorb the meaning behind the lyrics, and both are extremely relatable. We all either know of or have had that one person who will always dismiss you, only to become possessive and wanting when we grow tired and try to walk away. And, for the other, we all know how it feels to make the same mistake over and over again, a bit like a vice. Now, the majority of the songs on Take Me Home were penned by the boys, whether it be all five of them or some combination thereof. There are only about five songs on the new album that haven’t been written by One Direction themselves…and they wrote hundreds of songs before narrowing it down. Again, each one of the songs on this album has wonderful lyrics: in all of the slow songs, I’ve gotten goosebumps, chills, and tears. I’m not an easy one to make cry, I can promise you that. And in the more upbeat ones, they simply make you want to dance, and celebrate life itself, no matter how cliché that sounds to you. Each and every one has meaningful, relatable lyrics that bring me up on a terrible day, and that’s definitely something.

4.       Their individual voices themselves. Each one of the boys have beautiful voices individually, each so different. Louis is a tenor: his voice is higher, crystal clear. His accent probably comes over the most on the microphone, but that only adds to his appeal. Besides, I take voice lessons, and am involved in choir and band in school: if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard “Be more British!” or “You need to sound British!”, I would be one mighty rich person. Besides, he manages to hit every single note correctly, and is the highest voice in most of their intertwining harmonies. Harry, on the other hand, has a more baritone-like quality to his voice: it’s deeper, containing a bit more vibrato than Louis’s, though  not as much as Zayn’s. His tone is a mite richer; to use the comparison I’ve often been told, “a bit like chocolate.” He scored most of the solos on the Up All Night album, due to his strength and confidence…now, the other four have caught up to him, and they share responsibilities equally. To continue on with the brief descriptions, Zayn’s voice is in the middle. I’d say he’s a second tenor, but I would have to leave that decision up to my voice instructors or a professional. He generally takes the riffs, for good reason. His tone contains the most vibrato of the group: his is slightly jazzy-sounding, a good addition to a pop artist’s vocals. As a contrast, Niall’s vocals are straighter, with less vibrato to create a clear sound. Alone, his voice can identify with a variety of ranges; with his breath control, his voice has the ability to easily hang on to long, legato notes, though Zayn usually carries that responsibility. All in all, Niall’s voice adds more color to the overall sound of One Direction’s music. Liam, last though certainly not least, is the one with the most experience, having auditioned for the X Factor—and making it through—twice. He, by far, has the most confident voice; at first, he was the leader, speaking musically-wise. By now, the boys have caught up to Lili, but his still contains the most warmth, and his vibrato has grown massively in the two years since X Factor. In the end, these five voices combine to create amazing harmony and classic pop melody: beautiful. Without one, the mixture would be completely off-set: it wouldn’t work. Yet, by themselves, their voices also outshine other novices I’ve heard.

5.      Dynamics. This is an extremely musically nerdy thing to point out, but it’s a short note. In every single song I’ve heard, both the boys and their band have great dynamics, extending from piano to fortissimo. That adds color to regular pop music, and creates spectacular sound.

6.      Flow. Every single song I’ve heard—from the typically heard “What Makes You Beautiful” to some not many know, like “Truly, Madly, Deeply”—flows wonderfully. There isn’t a single hesitation, a single awkward pause or riff, between verses, chorus, and bridges. There are no awkward endings, nor are there pointless breaks now and then, as I’ve heard in a few songs. I won’t mention names, though; I don’t want hate. However, I’ve yet to hear this is any of the boys’ songs, and I doubt I ever will. The flow is beautiful, and should be copied by others.

7.      Their creativity. This ties in a bit with their lyrics, so seeing the above would be preferable, but it’s also another point entirely. One Direction’s themes for their music certainly aren’t original, yes—love, hurt, and relationships, but also enjoying life—but the way they are expressed is new and imaginative. Not only do they also write their own lyrics, and some of their own music (generally penned by the guitarists of the group), but the boys also incorporate some old favorites into their music: the tune behind “What Makes You Beautiful” is reminiscent of “Summer Nights” from Grease; “Rock Me” includes the old music of “We Will Rock You.” However, neither are copyright. They make both tunes using synthesizers and/or drums and keyboard: no copyright, and a fun way to include classical favorites and illustrate what type of music they like. Also, the way the music is performed is creative: simply free and wild, like the young kids they are. To put it simply, their music is real…and today, that is innovative. It’s real, it’s original, it’s fun, and it’s heartfelt: creativity in its purest form.

8.      Enunciation. Again, extremely nerdy thing to notice, but I did. ;-) Though the tone is still poppy—making enunciation go by the wayside—theirs is better than quite a few pop/dance songs. That, admittedly, is aided by their upbringing in the UK and Ireland: their accents automatically help their enunciation. However, due to the hard work they’ve put into their music, they create the deliberate sound of enunciation, making the lyrics easier to understand, and more enjoyable to the audience.

9.      Their improvement. Louis, Harry, Liam, Zayn, and Niall all originally auditioned as solo acts on Britain’s The X Factor—but, as we all know, were combined to form One Direction—and, then, it was obvious that they have talent. However, even the most unadulterated talent needs some shaping. Then, a few of the boys were a bit reserved when they sang; some needed work on breath control or intonation. Yes, their audition pieces were above par for many of the contestants, but improvement can always come. And that is a part of what makes their music so fantastic: the fact that they came so far. The fact that their voices have grown to the strong tones they are today, beautiful, controlled, free, and melodious.

10.  Emotion. Music is pointless without emotion. If the artist’s heart and soul isn’t carved into their music, then there’s no sense at all in them being a singer. It’s pointless, and, to be frank, a bit ridiculous if their all isn’t put into it. It’s easy to tell: One Direction does. They give it their all, enjoy what they do, love their art and their music…and that’s a huge part of what makes them amazing. When the artist is enjoying themselves, the audience will enjoy themselves. It’s a fact, proven once again by One Direction.

Video: “The X Factor Finale: ‘Torn’” I included this video, as it is the first time the boys really shone. Their talent is on full display in this performance, and you can honestly, truly hear their voices. The lyrics are brilliant; the background vocals behind Liam and Harry’s solos provide endless color; and the a cappella five-part harmony at the end is beautiful. All of you singers out there know this: harmonies, when a cappella, are extremely difficult to perfect. Which is why this performance gave me goosebumps; I teared up at the harmonies. This song is what caused my talented singer of a friend to stare at my laptop with wide eyes, open-mouthed. And remember: “Don’t think or judge. Just listen.” Press play. You can’t deny the magic that just occurred.

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