So One Direction just lost its most attractive member, Zayn Malik. But this isn’t important. What I want to know is why this band still hasn’t harnessed its iron grip on pop culture in order to give my generation its own Swinging Sixties.
1D’s build-a-teen-idol image is nothing new. What is in fact newer is the notion of a musical group writing and performing their own songs. It was only with the rise of rock n’ roll in the 50s that lyrics and instrumentation composed within a group became the norm. Today, it seems that the music industry, ravaged by online pirating and slumping sales, has degenerated into the assembly-style formula of hit-making of the musical Dark Ages, relying on a relatively small number of producers and song-writers with proven hit-making track records to produce the vast majority of all Top 40 bands. Essentially, the music industry today has cultivated a musical landscape strikingly similar to that of the pre-rock n’ roll era. All we need now to launch our own cultural revolution is our very own Beatles, a watershed group that will pave the way for a flood of talent to follow. I believe One Direction is that band.
The similarities between grandpa and grandson are striking; both bands embody the youthful best of the pop music of their time, sparking sexual frenzy in teens and succeeding in conquering America courtesy of their legions of devoted British fans. While One Direction has so far followed their predecessors’ steps faithfully, the Invasion bands before them proved that true success and historical impact can only come when an artist forges a unique path on their journey for an innovative sound, the process of discovery and experimentation being the ultimate catalyst for musical revolution. The blueprint-busting impact of the Beatles in particular highlights the global impact possible when a proven hit-making group is given the creative license to explore new avenues of inspiration, from American R &B to Eastern mythology, this freedom giving the Beatles the opportunity to produce ground-breaking albums that were as much historical events as records. The success of The Beatles and their relentless pursuit of originality prodded wary record companies to mine the world for “the next Beatles”, this trickle-down effect launched by the Fab Four clearing the way for equally talented bands to add their voice to the soundtrack of the 60s. The Beatles took full advantage of the spotlight cast on them defying their fellow artists to challenge their undisputed reign over popular music, resulting in a collective body of music transcending genres that together marked pop culture’s Golden Age.
One Direction has already proven that it has the world’s attention. I’m afraid that One Direction might not take their chance to be the ones who change popular music as we know it. But I’m excited, because they more than any other group in the world have the best shot.