The latest in pre-fab pop boy bands, the U.K.- based entity known as One Direction don’t disappoint on their latest product for the masses, Made in the A.M.
As they sing (all too predictably and precisely) on Perfect, Baby, I’m Perfect for You, it’s a foregone conclusion that their predestined audience will consume this hit machine with empty-headed enthusiasm.
But seriously now, some say they ain’t too bad for pop. That leaves a few questions, namely what era of pop and what genre? Yes, these groups can sing and their producers can stitch and paste a good tune together as they do here on Hey Angel, an ambitious song with an intense chorus that has pretensions to be Bittersweet Symphony (by U.K. band, The Verve). It tries but fails in that regard. One sounds real and lived in and this one sounds nice but removed.
Long Way Down is a similar inoffensive track. There are no sour notes and a pretty melody but a scripted reading of a paint-by-numbers arrangement.
Groups or performers like these are a mysterious lot. They fall into a Celine Dion/Mariah Carey category of superstars that you won’t hear out in the street. You can hear that One Direction is trying to get loose on tracks like Temporary Fix, but their context is so constricted that there’s no hope of spontaneity.
It’s a vast, sprawling collection of nice sugary ‘boy band’ sound that isn’t bad for pop but it’s interesting to think that at one time Otis Redding had a hit pop song with Dock of the Bay. The Beatles had a dozen or so, as did the Rolling Stones, Earth, Wind and Fire, the Jackson Five, The Eurythmics, etc.
Where are the Back Street Boys when you need them?
– Dean Gordon-Smith reviews the latest music releases every Friday in The Morning Star.