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One Direction are popular. So why is it popular to hate them?

22nd October 2015

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On Sunday 4th October I went to see One Direction live at Manchester Arena and I have to admit they were fantastic. However, every time I told someone I had bought tickets to see them I was greeted with the response "really?" and "why would you want to?". 

One Direction

But why not? 1D have been described as ‘bigger than The Beatles’ and are notably one of the most successful boy bands the industry has ever seen. So why is it so popular to hate them?

When thinking of ‘One Direction’ it is normal to think of cheesy pop songs and the stereotypical boy band. But other boy bands such as Take That, JLS, Union J and many more all fall into this category of the all singing, all dancing boy band yet there is less stigma surrounding the popularity of these bands.

Over five years the band have had 12 top 10 UK singles, sold out stadium tours globally and have upheld a crazed, yet very dedicated fan base, which they could not have achieved without substantial talent. But the usual criticism to this is that they do not write their own music or play instruments so they cannot be talented and are not real musicians.

Sure, their songs are created for pure entertainment being simple and catchy. The notion of finding their songs deep and meaningful seems slightly absurd.

Nevertheless, they create and produce quality tunes that are actually less conventional in the pop genre.

With their first couple of albums the polished poppy boy band sound was definitely present but their more recent releases have defied the predictable pop genre and taken them into a more pop/rock direction. The tracks still have a certain pop feel but they could now be viewed as an unconventional boy band. 

When seeing One Direction live the production is minimal and the choreographed dance routines non-existent. They do not wear matching outfits and rely predominantly on just the four of them standing on stage and singing.

It is notable that they have also written a substantial amount of their own material more recently and some of them do play instruments whilst live on stage.

Yet as a culture we still cannot seem to get away from the concept that they are not real musicians, that they are manufactured pop.

Take Beyonce as a comparison. She is evidently vocally talented however she only co-wrote some of the tracks from her latest album and she too is marketed as a typical manufactured pop act. Yet more than often she is idolised and is portrayed as some sort of musical genius.

Of course women in the music industry are often sexualised and receive criticism surrounding their femininity. Nevertheless why is it that when you mention One Direction the retort is often "they're crap, they don't even write their own music" but when Beyonce's name pops up all you hear is "she has the voice of an angel, she is so amazing"?

Both manufactured pop acts yet two very different receptions. 

The obvious answer to all this would be “jealously”, as it tends to be males who project abhorrence outwards.

They are jealous of four males who have acquired fame, fortune and have thousands of girls wanting to be with them.

Nonetheless, the concept of disliking One Direction for their unconventionality could be considered.

As a culture we tend to dislike change, any form of upheaval is often unwelcome unless it is for greater change. Therefore the image One Direction has grown into may be the reason people take such a dislike to them.

First they had a very squeaky-clean, perfect boy band look. However, since they have taken on a more rough and ready appearance also finding themselves in media scandals. Former band member Zayn Malik was heavily criticised for his reference to recreational drug use in a video that went viral and more recently Louis Tomlinson announced the unexpected pregnancy of his ex girlfriend.

This slightly bad boy image combined with, to some extent, more risky lyrics, such as on ‘Rock Me’, may be seen as the band sending the wrong message to their fans. Fans as young as four or five seemed to swarm the crowd at the concert at Manchester Arena and although they are likely too naive to understand the underlying allegories in the songs it seems some still take a huge dislike to the band because of this. 

Personally I view the core reason for hating One Direction as musical snobbery.

I cannot deny I am guilty of that myself, considering my listening choice better that anyone else's.

We often seem to forget music taste is very subjective and that we all have our own personal preferences.

 However, people are still very quick to judge believing that to like One Direction is a terrible thing. I could not even say they are just a guilty pleasure; I really do think they are talented and create good music.

They produce catchy, memorable songs and just because they do not all play instruments it does not make them bad musicians.

In my opinion a good musician, a good artist, is someone who can sell records to a devoted fan base and that are going to be remembered for decades to come.

Do not just hate them because it is popular too, give them a go and who knows, you might actually become partial to some of the One Direction mania. 

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