We love them yeah yeah yeah – what 1D have learned from The Beatles

One Direction show the boyband genre is an art form by following in the marketing footsteps of the most famous boyband of them all


Tomorrow marks a high-water day for the phenomenon known as the boyband. It’s global One Direction day and, as it says here, “this is an unprecedented worldwide event, featuring a seven-hour live broadcast with the band offering unparalleled access to 1D’s world”. The Irish-British grouping is now acknowledged as the best boyband ever. And that is some going by anyone’s standards.

On a purely musical level, 1D are of nugatory value – the songs are flat-packed for them in a pop factory; all they have to do is stand on stage, look “cute” and try not to fall over.

One Direction have reached the top because they and their handlers studied the boyband handbook and took copious notes. Consider the case of one of the most famous boybands of all time. There was the goofy one, the serious one, the cute one and the quiet one. They had matching haircuts and young girls screamed themselves hoarse and fainted in their presence. That’s right – The Beatles (before they discovered marijuana and the Maharishi).

The songs aren’t always Sunny Delight-style covers. They need to be about love, relationships and breaking up, with the words “heart” and “baby” featuring heavily.

While the band is sold as a package, it is incumbent on individual members to adopt different characters – the sexy one, the cheeky one, the wild one, etc. And because most fans fantasise about having a relationship and/or marrying one of them, band members must always give the impression of being available, hitherto unlucky in love and just waiting for that right person.

It can be a horrible life. You can’t have opinions, you can’t ever be hungover or high, you must never have ideas above your musical station. If the boss wants you to do another Barry Manilow/Bee Gees cover, you do it. Utter the words “I want to grow as an artist” and you’re out.

You know that after your three-year pop spin cycle is up you’re looking at a future of dire pantos and nasty reality TV shows (if you’re lucky, and not locked up in a high-security rehab facility). Still, you have to perma-smile, shake your hips on cue and thank your “fantastic fans” a few hundred times a day.Eventually the moment will come when you find yourself at closing time in the bar of the Huddersfield Holiday Inn with Kerry Katona for company.

That 1D have survived the obstacle course, flourished as an ongoing business concern and still have their wits about them is a massive tribute to all involved.

They say love is blind. It’s deaf as well.

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