If you, like me, are one foot in the grave in the eyes of most of One Direction’s target demographic, you may be a little confused as to who these people are, and why everyone seems to care about them so much. Allow me to be your guide, your sensei if you will, through the terrifying labyrinth that is Being A Few Years Too Old For The Latest Teen Sensation.
Essentially, much like the equally-hard-to-comprehend Justin Bieber, they were created the “modern way,” or, “the democratic way.” Just as Bieber let the people speak for him by giving him millions of YouTube hits and comments, the boys of OD (oh my god, their fans are totally OD’ing on them, what a hilarious pun LOLOLOL) were voted for by the people. The boys (Niall, Harry, Zayn, Louis, and Liam) all auditioned individually for the X Factor over in Britain but apparently were not good enough to stand up by themselves. However, like chocolate to the proverbial peanut butter, they just worked so much better together, so the V-neck wearing maestro of all things soulless and auto-tuned, Simon Cowell, put them together into a group. (Okay, so Wikipedia is telling me that apparently Nicole Scherzinger, of Pussycat Dolls fame — “I wanna be a star, I wanna have boobies” — put them together, but I much prefer the idea of Simon doing it. He is this generation’s Lou Perlman, only he doesn’t look like a beached walrus.)
But I digress.
So you had these five beautiful, just-of-age, and objectively talented boys who wear delightfully not-quite-matching outfits and bop around the stage with charisma and charm, but they were just not good enough to even finish runners-up. They were beaten out by some guy I don’t care about and Rebecca Ferguson, also known as the best singer to ever grace a bullsh-t singing competition. But, as is the cruel, cruel fate of reality television, often the actual winners end up being less popular than some of their stylish, charming loser counterparts. (Et tu, Ruben Studdard, et tu?) And so it was that One Direction would go on to become the popular ones of the bunch, becoming the next tween sensation and making hit after hit that rocks the worlds of both 12-year-old girls and deeply shamed 23-year-old Thought Catalog writers.
So what makes them so special? Well, if you ask Tumblr, it’s the fact that two of their members — namely, Harry and Louis — are latently homosexual and in love with each other. As with most forms of media/entertainment/art, Tumblr is not satisfied until there is more gay fanfiction about it than actual original text. If you ask 12-year-old girls, I’m pretty sure it’s just because they are “soOOooOo cute and awesome,” similar to my explanation of the Backstreet Boys’ appeal a scarce 10 years ago. And if you ask several of my shame-filled friends who occasionally repost pictures of the boys all hanging out with each other on some beach as if no one’s going to see it, it’s just because they’re British and that makes them somehow more acceptable as a band.
In any case, they make criminally catchy music and have charming accents, so I insist that we all come out in the open with our appreciation for them. Now that we know their rise to fame a little better, we can swat away any accusations of bad musical tastes with a simple “Yeah, well, they have a book published. They’re literary.” I’m pretty sure that’s enough to keep the critics at bay.
(I LOVE YOU LIAM OH MY GOD.)