10:54 am - 03/23/2013

Harry Styles' sense of direction is correct, bands like One Direction must write their own songs

This column on matters cultural has failed hitherto to mention a cultural phenomenon of our time – the boyband One Direction and their highest-profile member, the mover, shaker and dater Harry Styles. I will right that wrong, because Styles has come up with an interesting observation. The 19-year-old has been pondering the future, as 19-year-olds do, and has questioned whether the band can be sufficiently authentic without writing their own songs.
He has been reassured this week by Cathy Dennis, a key songwriter for Kylie Minogue and the woman behind one of Kylie's signature pieces, "Can't Get You Out of My Head." Ms Dennis, unsurprisingly, claims in a newspaper article that one can have a long and fruitful career in pop by using outside songwriters. She adds: "It will be expected that they will write their own songs at some point. Someone is going to say, 'hang on, the royalties coming in from just singing are not enough'. But if 1D started writing their own songs it could be the kiss of death... to emulate The Rolling Stones – you can't have that overnight."

She seems to think the desire to write is royalties-related, and, of course, you make a lot more money if you write the songs as well as sing them. But I'd credit Harry Styles with wanting a bit more than money.

Certainly, the history of popular music from Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra through Barbra Streisand and many, many others including Kylie, shows that if you can really interpret a song distinctively you don't need to actually write the thing.

But it does seem to me that in the main the interpreters have been solo artists. Groups, from the Sixties explosion of The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Who via Britpop's Blur, Oasis and Pulp to Arctic Monkeys and a thousand others have a songwriter in their midst to give them not just a personal sound, but a personal mode of storytelling – the erstwhile chronicling of teenage angst by Pete Townshend, for example.

So I'm with Harry. I watched One Direction at the Brits, and their rendition of Blondie's "One Way or Another" only served to make me think of Blondie, and not just with sympathy. Even new songs by hired writers are unlikely to give them a consistent sound and story that can last years.

To be true artists, and to last, a band, whatever their manufactured origins, must write their own material. It lifts a band from being a well-drilled, sexually manipulative outfit to a creative body with artistic integrity. It gives them distinctiveness and puts them in the great tradition of British bands making a narrative and portraying the angst and excitement of their generation. By instinctively recognising this, Master Styles shows that he has a wise head on his young shoulders.
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chikntetrazzini 23rd-Mar-2013 03:09 pm (UTC)
ghostsaddle 23rd-Mar-2013 03:09 pm (UTC)
they co-wrote summer love, and that is my song omg
colorzplosion 23rd-Mar-2013 03:10 pm (UTC)
summer love is one of my favorites <333
punkylana 23rd-Mar-2013 03:12 pm (UTC)
lmao, i hate that song
dynamite_state 23rd-Mar-2013 03:27 pm (UTC)
their worst song though (and I included the British showers one)
punkylana 23rd-Mar-2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
lmao yes
ghostsaddle 23rd-Mar-2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
whaaaaat y'all are trippin, I guess I love it because it's so different from their other stuff. oh god over again is ridiculous, they need to stop taking songs from Ed sheeran for real

Edited at 2013-03-24 03:25 am (UTC)
bee_xx3 23rd-Mar-2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
ms_v_nessa 23rd-Mar-2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
ever since they sang it live, I can't get enough of that song.

Zayn's voice live is usually better than in the CD version
quizblorg 23rd-Mar-2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
"Certainly, the history of popular music from Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra through Barbra Streisand and many, many others including Kylie, shows that if you can really interpret a song distinctively you don't need to actually write the thing.

But it does seem to me that in the main the interpreters have been solo artists."

He forgot the 60s girl groups.
rolt_me 23rd-Mar-2013 05:01 pm (UTC)
60s girl groups is like the pinnacle of pop music
piratesswoop 23rd-Mar-2013 03:24 pm (UTC)
can they work on making their current songs better hits first tho
quizblorg 23rd-Mar-2013 03:27 pm (UTC)
It's criminal that "Rock Me" hasn't been released as a single.
piratesswoop 23rd-Mar-2013 03:31 pm (UTC)

and i've pretty much given up hope of them ever doing anything with TDKAU
dynamite_state 23rd-Mar-2013 03:35 pm (UTC)
m t e. My theory is that they're saving it for the summer.

But watch them release I Would or sth instead
colorzplosion 23rd-Mar-2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
ew no
bloolikejazz 23rd-Mar-2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
ita that song is so catchy even with the silly lyrics such as hit the pedal heavy metal
ms_v_nessa 23rd-Mar-2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
ikr... I want that to be their summer single, plzzzzzzz
howhighvices 23rd-Mar-2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
they just need to stop using ed sheeran songs
slackkerr 23rd-Mar-2013 03:33 pm (UTC)
I can see them doing it at some point, maybe in an album or two.

Maybe a little OT, but I was trying to convince my 8yo Harry Styles obsessed niece that Zayn was the best member - purely because he's from Yorkshire. She was having absolutely none of it, and gave me the best "bitch, please." look I've seen in a long time.

I was so proud in that moment.
fierysadness 23rd-Mar-2013 03:34 pm (UTC)
LMAO What is that picture?
bloolikejazz 23rd-Mar-2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
i didn't realise one direction is a band. i thought it was just harry styles' stage name. those back up figures do look familiar however they don't manage to overshadow the true star act from holmes chapel
fierysadness 23rd-Mar-2013 03:45 pm (UTC)
Excuse me no. The "true star act" is obviously Zayn.
punkylana 23rd-Mar-2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
good joke
twerkbitch 23rd-Mar-2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
no lies detected.
punkylana 23rd-Mar-2013 04:03 pm (UTC)
i'm sorry you're deaf and blind :(
nefertitii 23rd-Mar-2013 03:45 pm (UTC)
its sad that their highest profile member is the pimpled, unwashed, and dirty hipster that is harry styles.
rebecaqt 23rd-Mar-2013 10:38 pm (UTC)
lol mte!
never_ever00 26th-Mar-2013 10:12 am (UTC)
i love the "highest profile" lol
makahakat 23rd-Mar-2013 03:45 pm (UTC)
they should only write them if theyre any good at writing, imo
punkylana 23rd-Mar-2013 03:53 pm (UTC)

twerkbitch 23rd-Mar-2013 04:02 pm (UTC)
Just stop taking songs from Ed Sheeran tbh. Those are all my least favorite on Take Me Home. Other than that, the album is pure
pop perfection!
punkylana 23rd-Mar-2013 04:05 pm (UTC)

aikoi_wings 23rd-Mar-2013 04:22 pm (UTC)
Can we get them to sing that song?
punkylana 23rd-Mar-2013 05:27 pm (UTC)
if only :(
ty 24th-Mar-2013 07:33 am (UTC)
Of course she did. She was 7. Hello.
arisingphoenix 23rd-Mar-2013 04:12 pm (UTC)
Not if you keep writing that Westlife knockoff stuff like Summer Love...actually in the UK that will work for you but I think harry and Zayn will kill themselves if they are reduced to sitting on stools and standing for Key changes.

However if you keep writing with McFly but STOP making the best stuff they give you B sides it could work. also get Jamie Scott to give you better stuff. Then ok.
ellecain 23rd-Mar-2013 04:53 pm (UTC)
also get Jamie Scott to give you better stuff


Still pressed Stole My Heart was never performed live
ms_v_nessa 23rd-Mar-2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
ME TOO! Stole My Heart was perfection. And the Liam girl in me reallyy wanted to hear his parts live.. plus Zayn in the end. Grrrr, damn Harry's voice for getting deeper so fast.. ;)
poopanna 24th-Mar-2013 11:24 am (UTC)
Stole My Heart is what did me in. That song rules so fucking hard.
poopanna 23rd-Mar-2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
Everyone knows about the curse of the boyband, but having gone through so many of them since NKOTB, there's something different about these 5 young men.

I joke about how I can't wait for their downfall, so I can see them in small venues, but unless someone is like "fuck it, I don't want to do this anymore," I believe they will evolve and stay in the spot light longer than what people predict.

And their own management has predicted it because look how fast their albums have been put out and how aggressive this tour is. Check out those dates, there's a fucking million of them and the tickets went on sale last goddamn year. Basically to be like "look, if fickle teenage girls start the backlash sooner than later, we still got the money."
m_h_p 23rd-Mar-2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
I'm not even a particular fan, I only know two of their songs, but something about them makes me want them to succeed.

Fuck the haters, etc.
lovebum4life 24th-Mar-2013 01:04 am (UTC)
you sound sort naive lol
poopanna 24th-Mar-2013 02:22 am (UTC)
How so?
ty 24th-Mar-2013 07:38 am (UTC)
How many boybands have you gone through?


Of course someone is going to say FUCK IT, I do not want to do this anymore because you cannot take five strangers, throw them together on the whim of Simon Cowell and expect it to last.

Someone will become the standout and if he actually has any talent (See Timberlake, Justin), he will have a career.

insomniachobs 24th-Mar-2013 05:36 pm (UTC)
I think the problem with bands of this type is that inevitably somebody does say "fuck it" - and quite understandably, because it's a relentless juggernaut which demands everything out of them mentally and physically. They're worked until they're dropping. Then there's the fact that spending 24/7 with the same group of people in such an intense environment is bound to cause strains - as is constantly having to do everything by committee because you're in a group and it can't just be about what's right for you personally. I think it's telling that the groups who manage to stay together aren't at that level of fame/success any more.
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