A Ranking Of Every One Direction Song, From Least To Most Sexual


Now, I know what you’re going to say: How much time did you have on your hands to write this? In all honesty, I was listening to the boys of One Direction anyway (yes, as a fully grown, 25-year-old woman, and I regret nothing), so it wasn’t a big timesuck for me. But you listen to a few of these songs a few times, and you realize that a lot of these songs are sexual. And not to be a priss or anything, but this band is marketed to teenagers. Pre-teens, even! Pre-pubescent children are claiming that they are the Future Mrs. Styles… or whoever. So, as someone who had to go through her formative years guided by the Spice Girls wanting to zig-a-zig-ah on nights where two became one, I figured I’d perform a public service and find out which songs were the most sexual. You know. To save the youth.
  1. ‘Act My Age:’ A song about reverting to less mature and wise ideals does not necessarily mean you’re going to also crack out dirty jokes. It does mean you will sing along with your friends in bars, because this is a perfect BFF drinking song. You can almost hear the pints of ale clinking in the background.
  2. ‘Don’t Forget Where You Belong:’ Proof that these are still very much good, clean-cut boys-next-door, who just happen to be pop stars who attract both legions of screaming fans and writers with nothing better to do than crank out weak jokes about their discography. But not dirty.
  3. ‘Once In A Lifetime:’ It’s not a very strong song, but it’s sweet. Every once in a while, you fall in love, and you feel special and safe and loved. That’s all. There’s no punchline here, really.
  4. ‘I Want:’ I mean, they have a point here. Materialism isn’t a cute look. Not sexual, utterly practical advice.
  5. ‘Same Mistakes:’ Again, not sexual yet, but if a relationship is this broken, just do what Elsa advises and let it go. This sounds like irreparable heartbreak, honestly, and life’s too short to fix something so broken.
  6. ‘Half A Heart:’ Honestly, I cannot crack on this song because I love it endlessly and I would sob if I found out a guy thought about me when he listened to this song. It’s One Direction’s most Adele-worthy performance. Five stars. My heart can’t handle it.
  7. ‘Fool’s Gold:’ I mean, when the boys want to break a heart, they know how to break a heart. This is sad, but not sexual. We are still very much in the “least” end of the spectrum.
  8. ‘Diana:’ I’ve never been able to parse if this song actually exists in a parallel universe where the late Princess of Wales was still alive, but it’s sweet. Maybe it’s a ‘Candle in the Wind’-type situation, or maybe I’m reading to much into the Britishness of it all. In any case, it’s more about treating a girl right than anything else, and treating a girl right doesn’t have to be sexual at all (contrary to what pick up artists the Internet over believe).
  9. ‘Stole My Heart:’ I’m sure there is something bordering an innuendo in this song, but if there is, I can’t find it. I’m sorry. The heavy Ibiza-ready beat distracted me. This is the most Euro song ever, and that’s kind of what makes it great. (Great in an awful, horrible, worst-song-on-their-roster kind of way, but still great.)
  10. ‘Clouds:’ Their one “I just got out of a breakup, so I’m going to live it up with my friends!” song, this is empowering, if a little confusing. But hey, moving on from a breakup feels different to everyone, so maybe they really are on clouds.
  11. ‘Girl Almighty:’ In some alternate universe, they bring a bar to ovation with a rousing rendition of this song performed while standing on tabletops, but other than just being really congratulatory to girls (yay, girls! way to be girls!) there’s not much that’s objectively bad here. It’s just a fun drinking song, is all.
  12. ‘Through The Dark:’ Because everyone needs a love song that is essentially a repackaging of “when you saw only one pair of footprints, know it is I who…” (Also, because the Deathcab For Cutie song got quoted one too many times in my day and this is now its pop replacement.)
  13. ‘Loved You First:’ In retrospect, we really shouldn’t have been surprised by the spectacular crash-and-burn romance that was Haylor, because this song is essentially ‘You Belong With Me’ from the guy’s perspective. (Harry, for the record, would totally be on the bleachers. Zayn’s probably cheer captain.)
  14. ‘Tell Me A Lie:’ Easily the most uptempo heartbreak song ever, this is deceptively catchy. “Break up with me for every reason but the truth!” they proclaim. “Say it’s not you, it’s me! Feed me lines! Spare my ego!” It’s very bleak. But then again, young love is very bleak. We all go through it. It’s bleak.
  15. ‘Save You Tonight:’ This is a knight in shining armor disguised as a pop song. It’s idealistic and sweet, but not practical. Don’t expect another guy to save you from a bad relationship. Save. Your. Self.
  16. ‘Stand Up:’ I dare any self-respecting single male to go up to a girl this weekend and tell her that this is a standup (the actual term is stick-up, but hey, artistic liberties, I get it) and you’re stealing every piece of her heart…

    … without bursting into laughter as you do so. (It cannot be done.)

  17. ‘Taken:’ I really have no jokes about this song’s sexuality (partially because it’s not that sexual beyond “saying there’s nothing you won’t do / to get me to say yes.”) The main theme at play here is that you always want what you can’t have, and ain’t that the truth?

    Also, in my dream world, Liam Neeson sings a cover of this song on SNL and I would just like to put that out in the Universe, please and thank you.

  18. ‘I Wish:’ Because if these boys are good at one thing, it is pining after another guy’s girlfriend. And making teenage girls feel something a lot like love. (Okay, that’s two things. But my point stands.)
  19. ‘Nobody Compares:’ A very strong theme in the One Direction repertoire is the make-up-after-the-breakup theme (more on this in a moment), but I will forgive this song’s mildly suggestive lyrics for this fact, and this fact alone: they pay homage to *N Sync’s seminal hit, ‘Tearing Up With My Heart,’ and because they have paid their dues, I will allow the cheesy metaphors. (How is anyone “so Paris” when they kiss? Like, in a “that’s hot” kind of way? No thanks.)
  20. ‘Still The One:’ I mean, you really do have to hand it to these boys for admitting they’re idiots and that they’re still very much in love with you, but yo, bro, let her move on.
  21. ‘Ready To Run:’ In my heart of hearts, I know this is One Direction’s homage to Bruce Springsteen. It has to be. God bless Springsteen, the original rock hearthrob. (Not the original, but like. Top 3 in ability to rock a pair of jeans.)
  22. ‘Spaces:’ And this is their send-up to Rihanna’s ‘California King Bed,’ which is a very underrated Rih jam, so I’ll give them that.
  23. ‘Up All Night:’ These boys are adorable scamps, lovable party monsters, and the kinds of kids you’d invite to your house party knowing that it would not be a good party if they didn’t roll in five deep and really get the game going. They are portable high school ragers, and I respect it. (But they also talk about going all the way and it’s like, dang, you gotta throw in at least one innuendo in per song, don’t you? Is that a contractual thing?)
  24. ‘C’mon, C’mon:’ This is more about the introduction and first dance when your eyes meet across a crowded dance floor than anything else, but even then, there is heavy flirting and, therefore, some pretty steep innuendo that something might unfold once the song ends.
  25. ‘You And I:’ It’s the kind of love song you expect a guy to strum at you while a fire crackles in the corner, but (and maybe I’m now just looking for innuendo) if you don’t think that all this talk about nothing coming between you and not even Gods above separating you does not involve naked bodies smushed together somewhere, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
  26. ‘Fireproof:’ Aside from “I’m feeling something deep inside / hotter than a jet stream burning up,” which is a weird way to describe getting turned on, this is just about a girl teaching some poor guy how to love again, so I guess it’s sweet. But still, you don’t need to refer to your sex drive as a jet stream.
  27. ‘Midnight Memories:’ The anthem to end all anthems of pop bands who claim to live that hard rocking lifestyle, but we all know what kind of rock legend followed the Stones around like a great cloud, and so to consider this not at least a little gritty and dirty is to ignore the fact that Harry Styles is, in fact, the second coming of Mick “Mars Bar” Jagger.
  28. ‘Back For You:’ Notably sexual lyric: I’ve never been so into somebody before / And every time we both touch I only want more.” Otherwise, it really just sounds like dating a pop star is exhausting and lonely.
  29. ‘What Makes You Beautiful:’ Essentially a 3-and-a-half minute long version of Drake’s “sweatpants, hair tied, chillin’ with no makeup on” credo, this song does get points on the sexualometer for If only you saw what I can see / you’d understand why I want you so desperately.” Sweet, but have you considered that she doesn’t need you to tell her she’s beautiful to know she’s beautiful?
  30. ‘Steal My Girl:’ We’re going to ignore the more misogynistic undertones for a hot second and talk about these lyrics: “Kisses like cream / her walk is so mean / and every jaw drop / when she’s in those jeans.” Congrats, dude. You’ve got a hot girlfriend. That doesn’t mean everyone else is out to get her. (Also, if she leaves you, it’s because she’s a autonomous human being and doesn’t ‘belong’ to you. Sorry for bursting that bubble.)
  31. ‘Change My Mind:’ The most passive-aggressive “so, what are we?” move in the book, but it’s a staple for bros of a certain age. A few well-executed hints, and you’ve flipped the script so that she asks the questions and does the defining, and you don’t get your heart broken if it doesn’t end up the way you want it to! You have all the power!
  32. ‘Little Things:’ I know I shouldn’t crack on a song that’s meant to be sweet, but preying on saying you love a girl’s imperfections even if she doesn’t is a trope as played out as time (see, Ne-Yo, Bruno Mars, John Legend, that other One Direction song, the list goes on). Besides, every time I hear a guy sing about a woman’s thighs, it feels a little weird and sexual. It is definitely a song to croon to a girl who is naked in your bed.
  33. ‘She’s Not Afraid:’ Convincing yourself that a girl is afraid to fall in love is a great little delusion. Girls tell themselves this about the guys they just can’t seem to tame all the time. (Trust me, I know.) Have you ever considered, dear sweet boys, that this girl who is so hellbent on teasing you is just not that into you? I mean, I don’t know. It’s possible. Maybe she just doesn’t want to commit to you. If she wanted to be with you, she’d be with you.
  34. ‘One Thing:’ This is song is all well and good (if a little cheesy and veering toward pick-up line; after all, “get out of my head and fall into my arms” is like a mashup of “are your legs tired, because you’ve been running through my mind all day!” and “did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”) — but then, wait! Plot twist! They admit they don’t even know your name! They’re officially crushing on a stranger! And with that detail, it is definitely a pick-up line!
  35. ‘Best Song Ever:’ They dance all night to the song, and a skeptic could easily say that means they’re doing the horizontal dance all night, too, but I genuinely believe that they just meant there was a rager of a party and the boys and their girls stayed up until the 4 a.m. sing-along of ‘Closing Time,’ got pizza afterward, and watched the sun rise from some great, unfinished rooftop. You know, the idyllic life.
  36. ‘Illusion:’ Oh, baby, this is not an illusion, but it is the musical embodiment of a guy hitting on you at a bar for 3 minutes and 14 seconds without stopping.
  37. ‘Summer Love:’ It’s a musical tradition that any and all songs about summer relationships (see: Grease; Justin Timberlake’s superior song of the same name) allude to things getting hot and heavy in the warmer months. “Make the last time just like the first time,” he says, and then you nod, and delete all the selfies on Instagram because it’s all so sad and you don’t need that kind of heartbreak in your TimeHop.
  38. ‘Story Of My Life:’ About getting friendzoned by the girl he (they?) loves? Sure. Sexy? No. The point of getting friendzoned is that there is no sex happening, but sex is definitely wanted.
  39. ‘Heart Attack:’ This is just Friend Zone City, the remix.
  40. ‘Night Changes:’ More about the loss of innocence than anything else. Sure, there’s allusions to cigarettes and a sexy dress her mom doesn’t want her to wear, but just because you lose your innocence doesn’t necessarily mean you’re immersed in the world of sex. The Lord Of The Flies was about LOA, too, and I refuse to believe sex was happening on that island.
  41. ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go?’: “Are you sleeping, baby, by yourself? Or are you giving it to someone else?” [ mic drop ]
  42. ‘Everything About You:’ It’s everything about you / everything that you do / from the way that we touch, baby / to the way that you kiss on me” means that “everything” is mostly physical, and therefore, sexual. Where are they kissing on you, Louis? That seems a little passive on your end.
  43. ‘Last First Kiss:’ A very, very sweet concept in theory, ruined by the opening lines: “Baby, I, I wanna know / what you think when you’re alone. / Is it me? Yeah / Are you thinking of me? Yeah, oh.” Between that and wanting to be the first one to take it all the way like this, it is very centric on the first love, forever love concept, but given the divorce rate in this world, how much can we trust this? Am I too cynical? I’m too cynical.
  44. ‘Over Again:’ Yeah, it’s about making up after a breakup, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also about makeup sex after a breakup. Or breakup sex. Or something in between. I don’t know. On-again, off-again relationships are confusing and messy and weird.
  45. ‘They Don’t Know About Us:’ A list of things people don’t know about us*: A) the things we do, B) the “I love you”s, C) the up all nights, D) that he’s waited all of his life. and I have a hard time beliving “things we do” are unrelated to “up all night.” Sorry.

    *Us is me and Liam, because I’ve gone this far without admitting a preference, but like. Girl.

  46. ‘I Would:’Would he please you? Would he kiss you? Would he treat you like I would (I would)? Would he touch you? Would he need you? Would he love you like I would?” Would he not be so thirsty for a girl who is already in a relationship? Because that is a very valid question, too.
  47. ‘Rock Me:’ I feel like only a “yeah, baby, rock… your world” and a really cheesy “bow-chicka-wah-wow” are appropriate here. I don’t know. This song doesn’t exactly feature the most inspired lyrics, but it’s definitely about getting it on.
  48. ‘More Than This:’ When I hear the lyrics, “When he lays you down / I might just die inside / it just don’t feel right / ‘cause I can love you more than this” just leaves me with one question: why are you imagining the girl you love with another man? That is not okay. That is not cool. Keep you minds out of somebody else’s bedroom, boys.
  49. ‘Alive:’ Only veering on dirty because they admit to falling in love with every girl they meet, and also because one of them “whispered something in her ear that I just can’t repeat / She said, ‘OK,’ but she was worried what her friends will think.” To which I say, girl, you’re about to do something unrepeatable with a member of one of the most successful bands in the world. Live long and prosper.
  50. ‘Gotta Be You:’ “Girl, what a mess I made upon your innocence,” the pop star croons. “You can make a mess on my innocence any day,” the creepy blogger writes in the dark of the night with a smirk to herself, a self-five, and a lone rimshot echoing somewhere in the distance.
  51. ‘Strong:’ “My hands, your hands, tied up like two ships” are the first lines of this song. The first lines. And with that, we have officially veered into the territory of the kink. (Not to mention, the song itself is a little codependent. Be strong on your own, dude!)
  52. ‘Little Black Dress:’ Sure, this song weirdly personifies a girl by her choice of party dress, but honestly if I showed up to a party in a LBD, and a dude hit on me by singing every line of this song, including the borderline creepy “I wanna see the way you move for me, baby,” it would probably work. I’ve been worn down with cheesier lines.
  53. ‘Happily:’ A little-known fact about the boys of 1D is, that for all of their adoring fans, they really like singing about how the girls they’ve fallen in love with already have boyfriends. This song is about stealing a girl away from that boyfriend. (Pot calling the kettle black, much?) “It’s 4 am and I know that you’re with him / I wonder if he knows that I’ve touched your skin / And if he feels the traces in your hair / I’m sorry, love, but I don’t really care” is equal parts stalkerish and other-man-ish to boot.
  54. ‘Why Don’t We Go There:’ The girl wants to take things slow. The boys admit that in the first line, but they continue to pressure her into going further because they’ve got all night and they’re going nowhere. Why is this song okay. Why?!
  55. ‘Something Great:’ “I want you here with me / Like how I pictured it / So I don’t have to keep imagining” sounds like a rote sext. It really does. It sounds like the 50 Shades Of Grey version of a sext.
  56. ‘Live While We’re Young:’ “And if we get together, get together / don’t let the pictures leave your phone,” is 1D’s version of Mariah’s “If there’s a camera up in here / then it’s gonna leave with me when I do / If there’s a camera up in here / Then I’d best not catch this flick on YouTube,” and I gotta say I don’t hate it.
  57. ‘Closing Credits:’ Right now, I wish you were here with me / ‘Cause right now, everything is new to me / You know I can’t fight the feeling, and every night I feel it” is peak booty text material and I dare you to tell me any different.
  58. ‘Little White Lies:’ “You say you’re a good girl / but I know you would, girl / ’cause you’ve been telling me all night / with your little white lies, little white lies” actually kind of worries me, because it is hallmark ‘not taking no for an answer’ and believing that girls have to feign innocence and purity. But it is 100% about taking someone home the night you met. It is 100% about a one night stand.
  59. ’18:’ And with these words — “so kiss me where I lay down, my hands press to your cheeks / a long way from the playground” — the boys officially lost their innocence. Okay, they lost it a while ago, but this is just explicit.
  60. ‘Kiss You:’ “Yeah, so tell me, girl, if every time we touch / you get this kind of rush / baby, say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah / If you don’t wanna take it slow / and you just wanna take me home, / baby, say yeah” roughly translates to: so, we hooking up tonight or nah?
  61. ‘Stockholm Syndrome:’ It’s a little ‘Beauty and the Beast‘-y (come on, tell me that movie was not Stockholm Syndrome 101), a little 50 Shades Of Grey-ish, but even if saying, “Baby, you’ve got me tied down” is metaphorical and not actually what’s happening there, it seems like a really kinky relationship. How else would you keep a guy around who didn’t want to date you until he realized, whoops, too late, he’s in love with you?
  62. ‘Better Than Words:’ A close listen of this song just sounds like a guy thanking a girl for taking his virginity and rocking his world and wow, that was great, baby, can we do that again. Add the wolf “ah-woo!” on top of that, and, well.
  63. ‘Change Your Ticket:’ The song opens with Harry Styles (because of course it’s Dirty Harry) saying he’s watching a girl get dressed, and that she should come back to bed. Zayn maintains the girl knew what she meant when she said she’d come over, Niall says the hotel shades can hide their tryst from the sheets, and it’s basically all just a booty call weekend as your man breezes through town on his world tour.
  64. ‘Moments:’ “Shut the door / turn the light off / I wanna be with you / I wanna feel your love / I wanna lay beside you” are the opening lines, and then it all goes downhill from there. They talk about trembling hands and streaming tears and a pile of clothes at the end of the bed, and this is about breakup sex and it’s SAD, okay? It’s sad.
  65. ‘Does He Know?’: Between all of the layered “Whoa-oh-oh-oh”s is a very crypitc message: Does he know you can move it like that? Does he know you’re out and I want you so bad? Tonight you’re mine, baby. Does he know that you’ll never go back? One camp might say that the girl being sung to has a boyfriend who doesn’t appreciate her. I say, again, Direction & Co. are out to steal another man’s girl.
  66. ‘No Control:’ “Waking up beside you / I’m a loaded gun, I can’t contain it anymore / I’m all yours, I got no control, no control / Powerless, and I don’t care / It’s obvious, I just can’t get enough of you / The battle’s done, my eyes are closed, no control / The taste on my tongue, I don’t want to wash away the night before / The heat where you lay / I could stay right here and burn in it all day…” I mean, you get the point. If this song is not about morning sex, then I honestly don’t know what to tell you. They’re loaded guns when they’re waking up. It’s about morning sex. There’s no alternative.Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Writer. Editor. Twitter-er. Instagrammer. Coffee drinker. (Okay, mostly that last one.)

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