Harry Styles. Liam Payne. Zayn Malik. Louis Tomlinson. Niall Horan. Yep, I can name them all.
Confession time: Yes, I'm a grown up, and yes, I love One Direction. There, I said it. Truthfully, I'm rather proud of my status as a Directioner (oh, yeah...I can toss out terms like "Directioner," "Directionater," "The lads," etc., with practiced ease).
First, you should know that I have two daughters, ages 12 and 13. One of them is a serious Directioner (and the other likes them a lot, but not in the obsessive way her sister does). She became aware of the lads early on, watching every single clip from X-Factor UK on YouTube, and I watched some of them with her. Mostly because I can identify--I was similarly obsessed with New Kids on the Block back in the day. But...guess what? One Direction is...gasp...better than NKOTB. Yes, I said it. And I stand by it! I mean, c'mon...we all know that Jonathan mostly just stood there woodenly, neither a great singer nor dancer. And Danny...well, he could dance, but not sing. Donnie was a good rapper and had the most charisma, IMO, but it was really Jordan and Joe with the true singing talent. NKOTB was mostly about the "show"--choreographed dance routines. Don't get me wrong, they were (and still are) fun. But One Direction? They're better.
In case you don't know the band's history, they all auditioned individually for UK's X-Factor television show. They didn't know one another beforehand, and they hail from across England (and Ireland). They each made it through to the show--in other words, all five were good enough singers to make it onto the show. And then Simon Cowell decided to put the five lads together into a group. Suddenly, they were One Direction. Allow me to say, Simon Cowell is brilliant. They continued through the competition right down to the finals. In the end, they came in third (**trivia: can anyone here name the two solo artists who beat them?!**) but it didn't really matter because their fan base was already so huge that it was pretty clear that they were going to be big stars. I'm think Simon's record label was already working on their first album before X-Factor was even over.
After X-Factor, their first single dropped--What Makes You Beautiful--and the rest is pretty much history.
My husband and I took our daughters to see them at the band's first New York concert--at the (fairly small) Beacon Theater. Seriously, I have never heard the kind of audience shrieking that I heard that night (not even at those NKOTB concerts I went to back in the day). It was so loud that I found myself covering my ears at some points. Still, it was awesome. No choreographed dance routines--in fact, they don't dance at all. They sing. They move around the stage. They connect with their audience. And even then, it was obvious that they were on the cusp of something really, really big. I'm glad we got see them then, before they moved onto huge arena shows.
So...why do I love them?
1) They are talented singers. Really. All five of them, I kid you not.
2) They seem like genuinely nice guys. If you watch the X-Factor episodes, there's one thing you hear over and over from all the judges: "These are genuinely nice lads. They are nice/respectful to everyone they come in contact with here on X-Factor, right down to the maintenance staff." Even now, with all their overnight fame, you still hear this same refrain repeated over and over again by everyone who comes in contact with them.
3) They are...ahem...nice to look at, too. Okay, I'll come out and say it--they're hot. I mean, have you looked at Zayn??? Dude is beyond gorgeous, though personally, I'm a Harry gal (I try to forget the fact that I'm old enough to be his mum). But they're *all* cute, each in their own way. Daughter #1 is all about Louis; it's Niall for daughter #2. There's a lad for everyone's tastes....
4) Their fan base is fun. I mean, go to YouTube and watch "The Adventurous Adventures of One Direction." You'll see what I mean. And if not for Directioners, I wouldn't have heard of Ed Sheeran so early on (for those who don't know, Sheeran wrote a song for 1D's first album -- and then later for their 2nd, too -- and I guess they've been pals ever since). Also, there's all kinds of fun "insider" jokes/sayings you can get in on: Carrots. Onesies. Larry Stylinson. No, Jimmy protested. How many R's are there? Inbetweeners Dance. Pat the dog, screw the lightbulb.
So, c'mon....if you're not already a One Direction fan, why not give the lads a listen? Watch THIS VIDEO, sing along. And when you're done, report back and let me know what you thought--and/or who's your favorite lad.
CONTEST ALERT: Everyone who comments below will be entered in a random drawing for a paperback copy of my book HAVEN (the first book in the Winterhaven trilogy) *OR* One Direction's debut CD, Up All Night *OR* a pre-order (e-book or print) of my upcoming book, ETERNAL (the final book in the Winterhaven trilogy). Winner's choice! Yes, open internationally! I will draw the winner's name on May 31st at noon, EDT. Good luck!
**answer: Matt Cardle and Rebecca Ferguson, aka...who?**