If there has ever been a perfect album for a 2 a.m. solo drive to Cookout, Take Me Home is it. “Live While You’re Young” is already blowing up every Top 40 radio station for weeks, and it’s only the first song of the 17-track album. Unlike Up All Night, One Direction’s first CD released in March, Take Me Home is a gold mine of hits that the will play at Shooters on repeat until 2014. “What Makes You Beautiful” was no fluke: the boys of One Direction are here to stay, at least until a new season of The X Factor when Simon Cowell will force another group of similarly hair-styled teen heartthrobs onstage.
While One Direction may be the kind of group you would never admit to listening to, their latest release proves they’re doing something right in the world of pop. Just about every song on Take Me Home is radio-ready. “Kiss You” and “Heart Attack” will have their preteen constituents swooning on the way to soccer practice and their parent driver/chaperones unwittingly bobbing their heads to the beat. “Little Things” will be played as an awkward slow jam at middle school dances. “Last First Kiss” will briefly blare through the silence of the Carpenter Reading Room, and an embarrassed first-year will slam his computer shut and blame the incident on his friends hijacking his computer.
But what is it about One Direction that draws people in? It’s the simple verses, the everybody-sing-together choruses and the pure pop sound. It’s free of dance-floor dub-step digressions and trying-too-hard JBiebs pseudo-raps. The boys don’t pretend to be something they’re not. And even though they’re following in the tradition of now-extinct boy bands who broke up because someone wanted a solo career, none of the One Direction guys steals the limelight the way Justin did in *NSYNC. All of their voices are noticeably different, so it’s fun to listen for which guy is singing what (kind of like the way I used to memorize the voices of the members of the Backstreet Boys by studying the concert tour VHS that I got from Burger King). Except with One Direction, there’s no annoying Nick Carter, no stand-out “leader”; they’re just a group of guys singing together about young, inconsequential love.
Take Me Home does have a bit of childish flair, but what would a boy band be without it? Take the lyrics from “Kiss You”: “Oh, I just wanna show you off to all of my friends / Making them drool down their chinny chin chins.” Or from “Heart Attack”: “And I’m like, ow! / Never thought it’d hurt so bad / getting over you.” They never take themselves too seriously, which I’d say is a good thing considering none of them is older than 20. Though many of the songs sound similar, they all do what they’re supposed to do: give the fans something to sing. Though One Direction might not appeal to the typical Duke student—at least not in public—Take Me Home blends all that was good about the Jonas Brothers and 98 Degrees, a testament to the lasting appeal of the boy band.