UK Release Date: Monday 21st November 2011
Label: Syco/Sony Music
Love or hate One Direction, you can’t possibly have a good line of defense against the word “manufactured”. Not only did they shoot to fame on The X Factor, but they were actually formed on the show as well, becoming the first act in the show’s history to support the judges’ habit of chucking together a group of also-rans and calling them a “band”.
Since their series ended, keeping the boys in the public eye has been like taking candy from a baby, and fanbase-encouraging anthems like ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ and ‘Gotta Be You’ have fed right into their obsessive Twitter follwers’ notion that they could actually stand a chance of becoming the future Mrs Styles/Malick/Payne/Miscellaneous.
But – brace yourselves – their album is, dare I say it, quite good. It may have been recorded with the sole intention of earning Sony a tasty Christmas bonus, but strip away the commercial cynicism and, thanks to some of the world’s best pop producers (Toby Gad and Savan Kotecha to name two) this is a record that teaches obvious rivals JLS and The Wanted a lesson or two about throwing serious-faced-boybandism to the wind and just having some bloody fun.
The vast majority of tracks on Up All Night could feasibly be singles. ‘One Thing’, ‘More Than This’, ‘Up All Night’ (regardless of the bizarre Katy Perry name-check) and Kelly Clarkson’s songwriting contribution ‘Tell Me A Lie’ could all be airwave-consuming bestsellers, and why the hell not? Alright, so making ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ the fastest-selling single of the year is a bit over-generous to say the least, but if your Twitter feed must be invaded on a daily basis by obsessive fans of a pop act, you could do a lot worse than One Direction.
That said, the conveyor belt style will-this-do attitude does rear its head once or twice. ‘Everything About You’ is so generic it should be mentioned alongside the word ‘Yawn’ in the Oxford Dictionary, and mid-album numbers ‘Taken’ and ‘I Want’ have the faint air of filler about them, too. But regardless of how little of the album’s quality is actually down to the boys themselves (I can’t be bothered to repeat that particular arguement again, so see it in the Britney context if you so desire), Up All Night is just damn impossible to dislike. It may be the very definition of manufactured, but seeing as I have sod all interest in becoming yet another sour-faced “OH ISN’T SIMON COWELL A MUSICAL TERRORIST” bore, I’m gonna have to admit this is one of the year’s most shamelessly (or should that be shamefully) enjoyable pop albums.
So… much as I didn’t really want to give it this particular rating… I don’t think I can stop myself…