Review: One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” from two perspectives

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Kaitlyn McCurdy

midnight memories
One Direction released their third studio album, “Midnight Memories” on Nov 25. The new album takes the band towards an entirely new sound, one not expected from a boy band.
Source: onedirectionmusic.com

by Kaitlyn McCurdy and Consuelo Mendoza

If you think you’re going to go anywhere without hearing One Direction mentioned at least once, you’re naive. Or living under a rock. Or both.

Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik secured themselves in the hearts of boys and girls everywhere with their 2011 release “Up All Night.” They reminded you of just how big they are with 2012’s “Take Me Home” and following world tour.

What will “Midnight Memories” bring, then, besides the massive 2014 arena world tour?

Considering this is the biggest boyband in the world right now, the WSS thought maybe it needed to be listened to twice, and that’s just what we did.

Here’s One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” through two different perspectives.

“Best Song Ever”

Consuelo: “Best Song Ever” was the first track to be released of “Midnight Memories.” The twenty second intro acts as a build up for Styles’s first lines, where we get our first taste of their new album. It’s super upbeat, and it’s a great song that encourages you to just have fun, forget about everything and just dance to the ‘best song ever’.

Kaitlyn: One Direction’s always utilized a rocky tone in their supposedly pop hits, and “Best Song Ever” is no different. It’s catchy and fun, but after hearing the rest of the album, it just seems a little out of place. “Best Song Ever” is the closest the band gets to sounding like their two previous records.

“Story of My Life”

C: This track acts as a break from the band’s usual pop, fast beat, rock style. The lyrics get pretty heavy in moments and the harmonies certainly can bring you chills. This song is guaranteed to touch your heart.

K: The second single sounds more like the rest of the album. Indie acoustic pop, my favorite. “Story of My Life” is so easy to love, with amazing harmonies and a big chorus that you have to sing along to. No, really, you do. You should see me in my car when it comes on.

“Diana”

C: With a mix of 80’s rock and modern pop, this track can get anyone up and singing. The lyrics are catchy and easy to learn. It’s very upbeat and it conveys a great message; you can’t miss out on this track.

K: “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” ends the chorus, and you are swooning. A super cute ode to their fans, “Diana” is a purely fun listen. Tomlinson and Payne did a great job lyrically here.

“Midnight Memories”

C: Honestly everyone has a memory from midnight and that’s exactly what the band wanted to convey. This song is great in the sense that it’s really upbeat and almost every fan can relate to the lyrics. I think this sort of rock style really fits the boys new developed voices.

K: With a riff that sounds like Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” (seriously, that’s the first thing that popped into my head when this song started), One Direction’s rock influence is obvious. An early review compared the chorus to Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” and obviously I scoffed. However, while, no, nothing will ever be as anthemic as Queen’s chorus, One Direction gets close. Live, this song is spectacular. Styles, in particular, is an absolute rockstar when performing the track. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

“You and I”

C: Don’t be afraid to shed some tears when listening to this track. It’s so emotional and will definitely touch your heart. Malik hits incredibly high notes that are beyond this world and the lyrics are nothing but oh so perfect, no, seriously.

K: The album now takes a turn to the classic boy band ballad, and this one’s a hit. What truly makes the song, however, is Styles and Malik tag-teaming the bridge vocally, right after Malik hits an absolutely unreal high note. The bridge is pretty reminiscent of Coldplay, really, and this is a track you simply can’t skip.

“Don’t Forget Where You Belong”

C: There’s no better song in this album that describes the bands lives so perfectly. When Horan sings the lyrics, “livin’ out of cases / been packing up and taking off / made a lot of changes / but not forgetting who I was,” you get chills, thinking about what their real lives are like. This song is so emotional and it inspires everyone to never let society change who you are. Basically you can’t miss out on this track and if you’re a true Niall fan then you will love it.

K:  Horan teamed up with three of the four McFly members to write this ode to home. McFly members have previously penned tracks from both of the band’s previous releases, so their collaborations are to be expected by now. This one takes the band towards that wonderfully new, soft rock/indie sound they seem to be yearning for. However, I find myself skipping this one. It’s a good listen, but it doesn’t grab you like some of the other tracks on this LP do.

“Strong”

C: This track is a love song with a mid tempo. It’s definitely not one that gets stuck in your head after listening to the album over and over again. However, it does have this unique choice of words that is very abstract and gives the song a whole new style. “Strong” isn’t one of my favorites, but it’s still worth listening to.

K:  “Strong” continues in that soft rock tone, with lyrics about soulmates, like the opening lines “my hands / your hands / tied up like two ships.” The track is a standout, if not one of the best on the LP. It definitely reminds me of old school boy bands, but One Direction’s new spin (that lovely indie tone that I’m obviously very excited about) is incredibly welcome. Once again, Tomlinson proves his songwriting capabilities aren’t to be questioned.

“Happily”

C: The title of the track describes it all. This song is so catchy and can for sure turn your day around. Prepare yourself because the lyrics are so perfect and after listening to it once, it won’t leave your head for awhile. The tempo of this song is so great because it’s smack in between a fast and a slow pace. What ever you do, don’t miss out on this track, you will love it, I promise!

K:  This one was written by Styles and two other co-writers, and Styles’s personal music taste is evident. “Happily” is a nice mix of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, with another big chorus and stompy beat. It’s also incredibly wonderful that this track is placed after “Strong” on the album, as the two really seem to compliment one another.

“Right Now”

C: “Lights go down and/ the night is calling to me, yeah/ I hear voices/singing songs in the streets.” I think this song has a similar message to “Best Song Ever,” because they both convey the idea to live in the present ‘Right Now’ and to forget everything. The band really put thought into these lyrics.

K:  You can tell Ryan Tedder, frontman of One Republic, helped to write this one. It’s a mid-tempo ballad, and One Direction is obviously appealing to their older audience. While I don’t hate it, I don’t love it. Meh.

“Little Black Dress”

C: This one is too rock for me. It’s got some really heavy guitar at the beginning and although it can be catchy, the lyrics and beats are very repetitive throughout the song. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a strong choice of words and sounds, but it’s not my favorite.

K:  Well, hello, 80s? “Little Black Dress” is guitar heavy, catchy and all the boys sing together at all times. The lyrics are cheeky and fun, and the track is absolutely irresistible. This will sound absolutely amazing live, and I hope the boys explore this side of them in later releases.

“Through the Dark”

C: This one has an awesome guitar intro that gives a perfect lead way to the first lines, “You tell me that you’re sad and lost your way/ you tell me that your tears are here to stay/ But I knew you were only hiding/ and I just want to see you.” This track is very easy to fall in love with and it gives out a sense of hope to anyone out there.

K:  And we’re back to Mumford & Sons, maybe even more so than “Happily.” The fast strumming of an acoustic guitar is a staple in this track. These boys absolutely know how to harmonize with one another. It’s an interesting listen, and another sound I really hope the boys experiment with more. This is the sound that fits their voices best, not bubblegum pop you’d expect from a typical boyband.

“Something Great”

C: PERFECT! That’s all I can say.

K:  This really sounds like Snow Patrol. Why does this sound like Snow Patrol?! Oh, Styles teamed up with Gary Lightbody, frontman of Snow Patrol, to write it. So, yeah, Snow Patrol.

“Little White Lies”

C: While this song may be catchy, it’s really repetitive. The lyrics are very hard to understand and it shows a new side to One Direction. It definitely follows the bands traditional pop style, but its lyrics are so abstract I think the listeners lose track of the meaning. If you’re going to skip a track, let it be this one.

K: “Little White Lies” does bring us back to pop, but it heavily utilizes a synthesizer and computerized sound brings something new. It’s ridiculously catchy, and the beat is fantastic. I will say that some find the lyrics to be a little … questionable (“you say you’re a good girl / but I know you would, girl”). Just a flat-out warning. No, it never hits the terrible level of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (which I won’t even link to because it’s disgusting), but it can be uncomfortable for some, and I can see why.

“Better Than Words”

C: This song is just fantastic. The lyrics are very clever and I love the way they fit together. The whistling in the beginning is something new for the band, but I think it adds a nice touch to the song. The beat is amazing and provides just the perfect amount of space between lyrics. This song just makes you fall in love with the band all over again.

K:  Cheeky, witty and fun. That’s what “Better Than Words” is. The verses are made up entirely of other song titles, referencing Britney Spears’s “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” and many others. In fact, to hear the lyrics replaced with the original song titles (and see photos of the band, because why not), you can check out a video here. That’s absolutely genius to me. It’s a song about trying to use other people’s words because you can’t find them but those words still aren’t good enough. Wow. It mixes pop and rock influences to wrap up the album with a nice little bow.

“Midnight “Memories” sounds completely different from “Up All Night” and “Take Me Home.” The boys turn in a completely different direction (ha) with this LP, and it’s refreshing. The new indie rock feel just works for them; it both suits their voices and they seem more at home performing it. We would bet this is the sound the boys continue with down the line, taking even more inspiration from the 80s rock, as well as Mumford & Sons and Coldplay.

Basically, no matter how you feel about their music, you can’t deny that these boys are talented and know what they’re doing.

Also, props to the boys for being so involved with the writing process. Their hard work really shines through in this LP, Tomlinson especially. Tomlinson alone was involved in nine of the fourteen standard tracks. That’s incredible.

Consuelo’s picks: “Happily,” “Something Great,” “Don’t Forget Where You Belong”
Consuelo’s skips: “Little Black Dress,” “Strong”
Kaitlyn’s picks: “You and I,” “Happily,” “Strong,” “Little Black Dress”
Kaitlyn’s skips: “Don’t Forget Where You Belong,” “Right Now”