How One Direction redefined the term boyband

Lauren Ulveling, Opinion Writer

Put a group of young men in a band, get a young demographic to support them and make sure they can sing and dance and you’ve got a successful boy band. That method has worked for The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, New Kids on the Block, etc. So in 2010, “The X-Factorproducer Simon Cowell hit the jackpot when five talented singers fell into his lap. Of course, I’m talking about the mega-successful band One Direction. The band was composed of singers: Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. The band immediately became extremely successful after their first hit in 2011, “What Makes you Beautiful.” Whether you are, was or were never a fan of them, I can bet you still know how it goes. Over their five years, it seemed like they ruled the world. One Direction won nearly 200 awards (including seven Brit Awards, four MTV Music Awards, six Billboard Music Awards and seven American Music Awards), sold out four world tours, had 29 songs chart on Billboard Music charts and five years since their announced hiatus, are still relevant.

So what made them so different? One Direction broke the mold of boy bands. Unlike their predecessors, they didn’t go for the cheesy matching outfits and choreography. They rose to fame on the reality TV show, “The X-Factor”, where they sang covers of other bands and had tight and controlled performances. It was after they left the show that they were able to become their own brand.

They were able to control their sound and make music that they wanted to make. They never stuck to one genre. As they matured, so did their sound. They went from making pop hits like “One Thing”  to experimenting with rock in “Rock Me”. In their later songs like “No Control” and “Midnight Memories,” you can hear a combination of rock and pop. One Direction was more than just a boy band because they wrote their own music and played their own instruments in the studio and on stage. They wrote 50 of their songs themselves. Further breaking the mold that boy bands don’t write and play their own songs.

Even though they were breaking records and were number one in 35 different countries, they still had a stigma to them. An extremely unfair and unwarranted stigma. They got dismissed for just another boy band and struggled to be taken seriously as musicians. They had worldwide success but were still seen as teenage heartthrobs, simply because that’s who their major fan base was made up of. And if you were a fan of them at this time, you also got dismissed as only liking them because of their looks. This sort of stigma around artists with teenage female fans has been around since The Beatles to the Backstreet Boys. It makes it hard for artists to be seen as serious musicians.

No other band has reached the level of success and international fame One Direction has. They changed what it meant to be a boy band. Their impact on music and pop culture is unmatched and I genuinely do not believe it will ever be matched. One Direction broke the mold they were put in and became something the world will never see again.

This is why I am and will always be unashamedly, wholeheartedly a fan of One Direction forever.