I am a 51 -year-old woman and I love One Direction. There I said it. Judge me if you must. But I stand as one with the kids and the tweens excited over the release of 1D’s new album Made in the AM. It is their fifth studio album in 5 years and the first since becoming a quartet. (Member Zayn Malik defected last year, and while, I’m a fan, I did not take to the Twittersphere with tear-stained emojis over it). Made in the AM is notable also because it contains a greater number of songs written by the boys themselves Fourteen of 17 songs on the album were written by members Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson, thus leading us to believe they might just be more than pretty faces. I guess we’ll have to judge their song writing prowess another time.
All that being said, I’m still not going to buy the album. I think the last album I bought was Wham! in 1984. I usually just get familiar with the songs when they’re played on Top 40 radio as I’m carting my kids off to their 18 gazillion afterschool activities. Eventually, I will learn the lyrics to these songs much as I (kind of) learned the lyrics to their other songs. And as in the past, I will sing them loudly in the car as my children pretend they don’t know me.
“I don’t know I’m beautiful…that’s what makes me beautiful.”
But it’s mostly the videos I look forward to with the group.(By the way, do they still call them “videos?” Every time, I call them music videos I feel like Martha Quinn or Nina Blackwood.) That’s what happened when I first saw “What Makes You Beautiful.” I had heard it on the radio back in 2011 and I liked it. But I like a lot of songs. But c’mon. Seriously. As soon as I saw them dancing around on the beach together I became a fan. Maybe it’s because they reminded me of the Frankie Avalon Beach Blanket movies I grew up watching or maybe it’s because these little cuties just looked like they were having so much fun. Bubble gum pop kind of fun. It was the kind of video that would attract a female audience. The boys are cute, they’re dressed well, and they’re surrounded by beautiful teen models (who apparently didn’t know they were beautiful). They frolic around in clam-diggers and broad smiles like actors in a pantyliner TV commercial. Ah sweet sugar pop. Definitely, lightweight stuff to music snobs out there – especially ones my age.
Yet, still I didn’t go around advertising that I liked the group. I just kept on keeping on. I loved Story of my Life. As a momma, how could I not love that we got to see old pictures of the lads before their days in the spotlight? Zayn with his little pink-sweatshirted sister and the disappearing grandparents on the couch. Sniff. As touching as a Hallmark commercial or at least that Folgers ad from several years back. Good stuff Maynard.
I also like Night Changes. Such a creative concept. And yes, maybe part of me wished I could go on a spaghetti date with Zayn or figure skating with Harry. I’m not sure about riding in the car with Louis. He looks like he’d spend a good deal of time looking at himself in the mirror and we’d end up in a terrible crash and the paramedics would wonder why Louis was hanging out with a middle-aged American woman.
So fellow 50-somethings I come before you today admitting what I know some of you (especially you moms out there) don’t want to admit. You like these guys. You really like these guys. Pretend you don’t. Groan if your daughter asks you to take her to their concert. Complain about the screaming and the overpriced t-shirts. But you’ll hear and see for yourself just like I did and just like Jerry Riekert did. You remember him, right? He’s the 50 year old lamp maker from Long Island who tweeted a compliment to 1D last year. The fans got a hold of it and made him a celebrity. In his 15 minutes, he sold a few lamps.
Maybe, it’s not as weird for a middle-aged woman to write about her love of One Direction. We might be old, but age does not make us immune to the charms of Harry’s hair. So I’m putting it out there. One Direction is awesome. Their fans are pretty great too. Our society has a way of trivializing what girls like. If teen girls like something it must be silly and unimportant because some adults think teen girls are silly and unimportant. I’m here to say you are not. I don’t care if you like 1D or not. You might hate them or you might be one of the screaming masses in the stadium. Your tastes are your tastes. Don’t let anyone talk you out of them because of their perception that it’s not serious music. Who cares? If you like it that’s all that matters. It doesn’t make them right and you wrong. Obviously, it’s a lesson this 51 year old woman has had to learn. What took me so long to admit I liked these guys? Was it because I was worried the world would judge me as a lightweight because I liked music my tween daughters might like? Maybe, but then I remembered the old saying, “What other people think of me, is none of my business.” And maybe today I realized if they don’t get it, it’s not my job to convince them.